By James Clingman
With their fingers on the triggers, the Secretary of Defense and others in our government are poised to strike Syria and commit fighting troops to that country, even at a time when the soldiers in Afghanistan are scheduled to leave. Understanding that World War II and the Viet Nam War, followed of course by the war in Iraq, brought with them huge windfall profits to various corporations, we should brace ourselves for this next foray into a foreign country, especially one that is located in the so-called Middle East.
Along with the regular accouterments of war, such as private armies of well-paid mercenaries such as Blackwater, there are also the firms that feed the troops, including like Kellogg, Brown, and Root, and others that take care of construction and other vital “services” for the government. Remember Halliburton? They are probably licking their chops right now at the prospect of an attack on Syria. Let the good times roll – again.
What about the everyday guy and gal in this country? Will we once again feel the pain of our young people dying while defending another country? And will we ultimately pay for this war, as we did for that unnecessary war in Iraq, with our low stagnant wages? While I don’t know the answer to the first question, surely the answer to the second question is probably “Yes”
It has already started, but get ready for more pain at the pump. Get ready for price gouging and everything else that goes with strife in the Middle East. Some speculators and “oil watchers” say prices will not rise because Syria produces such a relatively small amount of the world’s oil. That fact along with the U.S. having increased its production and having moved away from total dependency on foreign oil (Can you say, North Dakota?) lessens the likelihood of high oil prices if Syria is attacked.
Peel back this onion a bit more and you will find lurking just beneath the surface counter-threats by Iran and other groups in the Middle East. In retaliation for a U.S. strike of Syria, there is a very good possibility that Iran will get a couple of its groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, to start lobbing rockets at Israel, as well as their constant threat of blocking the Strait of Hormuz. Now we have a full blown war and a catastrophe on our hands, which will most assuredly result in outlandish and in some cases unreachable gas prices, at least for those of us who need it most.
Look, I am not an oil analyst, a politician, or a soothsayer, but I can look back at the past and learn from it, based upon what has already taken place. I truly hope and pray that I am wrong about this impending war in Syria. We have had enough – too much – war, but as I remember Dr. Martin Luther King’s words regarding America and our penchant for war, especially the part about our being the world’s greatest purveyor of war, I doubt that this latest one will be avoided. Thus, we will have to pay the bill for it, the way we did for Iraq and Afghanistan; and we are still paying for both.
In light of the fact that we pay for wars, and even threats in the Middle East, via gasoline prices, we will likely feel the impact of this one in our wallets as prices rise and all the excuses begin to leak out. We will be told it’s the speculators, world market prices, supply and demand, and price gouging. We will hear all of the same reasons that now have us thanking the industry for $3.50 a gallon gasoline. They teased us with their up and down prices and then lulled us to sleep; we woke up feeling comfortable with $3 – plus prices. Now, we think it’s a bargain of we find gas for $3.15 and we rush to get it, depending on what state we live in.
The oil barons, U.S. or foreign, have us by the throats and they will soon be choking the dollars out of our pockets again if this war jumps off as anticipated. I deeply sympathize with the people of Syria, but right now, as in the case of Egypt, we don’t know who our friends are and who our foes are in their civil war. We cannot continue to be the policemen of the world; we must take care of the numerous problems we have in this country, mass incarceration of Black men, health disparities, the growing wealth gap for Black people, the high unemployment rate for Blacks, especially our youth, and the desperate and dangerous condition of our infrastructure, namely, our bridges.
Our nation-building efforts should begin with this nation. As Ron Daniels has called for a “Domestic Marshall Plan” to rebuild America’s dark ghettos, after attending the commemorative March on Washington, he also wrote, “After the countless billions of dollars squandered in Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan since 1963, the gauntlet should have been thrown down for America to make a huge deposit on the “promissory note” King referenced in his speech a half century ago. How can the U.S. justify “nation-building” in Iraq and Afghanistan and refuse to do “community-building” on behalf of her long-suffering sons and daughters of Africa in America?”
Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.