How an Unpopular War Goes On

Originally posted at on February 4, 2012

By the year 1968, the majority of Americans no longer supported continuing the Vietnam war. Why, then, could they elect a president (Nixon) who kept the war going, claiming another 21,000 U.S. soldiers’ lives?

We have not had a president since William Howard Taft (1909-1913) who presided over a mostly peaceful nation while resisting the financial support of (or campaign support by) the military industrial complex. Even in peacetime, Clinton spent roughly 400 billion per year on military expenditures.

According to an article by the Center for American Progress, “the ballooning defense budget played a significant role in turning the budget surplus projected a decade ago into a massive deficit that forces the U.S. government to borrow 43 cents of every dollar it spends. As the nation attempts to bring this massive deficit—which chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen calls the greatest threat to our security—[italics mine] under control, leaders from both parties recognize that these unprecedented levels of defense expenditures cannot be maintained.”

If Obama is such an anti-war president, ask yourself: why are we spending unprecedented amounts of money on the military industrial complex?

The question now is: how do we get out of this situation? The following article is a cautionary tale of how, against the popular anti-war sentiment, we were dragged into World War I by the power of the elite and the machinations of corporate greed:

So to answer the original question: how could Nixon keep an unpopular war going? It was because he could not or would not stand up to the military industrial complex, much as this president today.



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