Military conflict appears very different depending upon your vantage point. How you perceive the battlefield when you are on it will be radically different from the way it looks from, say, Washington, and more different still, from Wall Street. Seeing as how our lands are quite often battlefields, we tend to view these conflicts from the single vantage point on the ground.
From here, of course, the imperative is to engage the invading or aggressive military forces. It is to upgrade our weapons capabilities and degrade the capabilities of the enemy. We deal on a block by block, district by district basis. Victory, indeed survival, requires us to be this way. From the ground, the urgent thing is how to prevent an air strike, how to evade it, and if possible, how to bring down a fighter jet. From this vantage point, the concerns are immediate, tactical for short term wins; planning ambushes, striking checkpoints and convoys, etc. The medium to long term planning is also within the framework of battlefield immediacy; can we develop methods for scrambling the signals of drones? Can we manufacture our own weapons, and so on. If enough small victories are achieved, perhaps they will build the final triumph.
From Washington, as you might expect, the view is very different. Weapons and support for you and for your opponent are two valves, side by side, opened and shut with careful synchronicity to maintain a balance of power on the battlefield, until an atmosphere is created that is conducive for the inevitable political solution to be crafted, proposed, and imposed by politicians from each government involved in the conflict. This process is expensive, of course, and these expenses will be explained as vital to the national security interests of the country when they submit their budget requests to Congress. Congress will concur with that assessment, not because the expenses are vital to national security, but because they entered congress, in part, with the considerable financial support of the aerospace and defense industry.
From Wall Street, like from the ground on the battlefield, every downed fighter jet, every disabled tank, every fired missile (whether it hits its target or not), is celebrated. Unlike on the battlefield, however, every bombed hospital, every demolished bridge, every devastated city, no matter which side of the conflict is affected by it, is also celebrated. Where we see rubble, they see a market. Where we see a loss for the enemy when his weapons are destroyed, they see a guaranteed sale of new merchandise. Regardless of which side in the war is momentarily prevailing, from Wall Street, they see the victory of a climbing share price. Every major sector of the American economy is connected to military production; technology, construction, telecommunications, aerospace, the automotive industry, and obviously defense and weapons; everything. Through every major financial crisis of the last two decades, war based industries have enjoyed uninterrupted prosperity.
The combined political power of these industries is unequaled in the United States. Their economic power dwarfs that of many small countries. And, when we talk about companies, we are not talking about faceless entities; we are in fact talking about their owners; the corporate shareholders. We are talking about the super rich who organize their wealth in the form of corporations. They finance politicians, essentially hiring them as they would a CEO, and assign them the task of increasing share values for their companies; and they do this through government policy. If they fail to do this, like an unsuccessful CEO, they will be replaced.
Thus, the overwhelming driver of policy is this; to serve the financial interests of the owners of the government. As long as a policy achieves this, that policy will continue. If you are interested in changing that policy, there is only one way: you have to ensure that it fails to achieve its aim. And you have to understand its aim, not from the vantage point on the ground, not from the vantage point of the policy’s victims, but from the vantage point of those who benefit from it.