Certainly everything, from the reactions to the reasoned responses of victims, will figure into investors' calculations. But investors' primary concern is with increasing their wealth, and the feelings of victims only matter when they affect share prices. They apply their knowledge of geopolitics to calculating how various reactions will affect the rest of their portfolio. How will these factors affect the price of their shares in Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrup Grumman, and General Dynamics, five of the six top “defense contractors” (the other being the UK’s BAE Systems, at number four)? What about the others among the top 10 weapons-producing countries, France, Italy, and Russia?
As I watch the geopolitical drama being played out in various online media, helpless to make it stop, I’m thinking about the people who are most directly affected by this game of wealth accumulation being played out in their homelands. I’m also thinking about friends and neighbours whose lives are being impacted by events beyond their control resulting from decisions being made by people who don’t care about them...and sometimes by their own decisions made in ignorance of the wider context in which they’ve weighed their options. I’m thinking about a dear friend whose son has enlisted in a branch of the US military. Amid the Facebook comments (“He looks so handsome in his uniform,” “Thank you for your service,” etc.), all I could honestly say was, “I wish him all the best,” What I left unsaid was, “May he never be called upon to take even one innocent life, and if called upon, may he have the courage to listen to his conscience and refuse to obey.” Sadly, there aren’t many options once you’re in the military, and especially when you're lost in the fog of war. But there are some shining examples, like this Iraq War veteran, Michael Prysner, who experienced it, who saw it for what it was, and who dares to speak out.
Of course, these mostly White men hypocritically ignore gruesome history, including militarily supporting Iraq’s Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons in his 8-year war against Iran that took one million of their lives. Or, the totally concocted, grotesquely illegal and criminal US war against Iraq, 1990-1991, and 2003-present, killing over a million lives. Since the blood is not streaming out of their bodies, they callously ignore the blood of Iranians, Iraqis, Afghanis, Syrians, Yemenis, Libyans, Somalis, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, Hondurans, Bolivians, Sudanese, Pakistanis, Nigerians, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, and citizens of many other countries, that is in fact on their hands, and on the hands of countless US Generals, Colonels, Majors, Captains, Lieutenants, and their Navy and Marine counterparts, and common soldiers and sailors under the direction of these officers, the President Commander–in-Chief, and all their funders in the bipartisan US Congress comprised of 535 (s)elected representatives, such as Mr. Engel, and the hands of millions of taxpayers.
It lifts my spirit to hear that some young people are making the connection between poverty and militarism again. The statement that "poverty is the new draft" has been around for a long time. And there are rumours that the old draft may make a comeback. Fears that it would be reinstituted in the wake of the assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani led to an overload that crashed the Selective Service System website.
I’m also thinking about my Iranian friends and neighbours. Their loved ones in Iran are already suffering under harsh sanctions imposed by the US, the effects of which are outlined in six charts that show how hard US sanctions have hit Iran. Mismanagement by the Iranian government of this engineered crisis (though it's hard to see how it could be managed well) has led to popular discontent, which reflects the true intention of the US in imposing economic sanctions, namely, to destabilise Iranian society and create conditions favourable to regime change. Demonstrations against a government that has already lost a lot of legitimacy have, predictably, been met with violent repression. Adding to Iranians' misery is Donald Trump's employment of his own version of Richard Nixon's "madman theory" to create intense uncertainty about what the future holds for them.
We should all be feeling uncertain about the future these days. Even if we aren't in the stock market, we need to pay a lot more attention to geopolitics than to whatever political sideshow is being constructed to grab a share of our diminishing attention spans. The World Economic Forum, a gathering of "global leaders, corporate titans, academics and thinkers," is ongoing at Davos, Switzerland. We should take an interest in what they're talking about as they shape the world's future.
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