A pressing concern for many within the last decade is the war on terror. Along with the majority of Americans, I can easily remember where I was on the day of September 11, 2001. Nowadays, our country strives for an end to the 3 wars we are currently fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In his lecture entitled “The Global War on Terror: Who Wins? Who Loses?”, G. Simon Harak, S.J. a Fairfield graduate and former professor, discussed war profiteering and why war in general needs to end. Fr. Harak is the co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness, a human rights group thrice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and current Director of Marquette University’s Center for Peacemaking. The lecture took place on Tuesday evening of February 8 in the Dolan School of Business.
Fairfield’s own “Teacher of the Year” in 1995, Fr. Harak gave an eye-opening talk to a crowd filled with students, professors, and locals. The first bit of revealing information came when Fr. Harak told the crowd that over $200 million of taxpayer’s dollars have been spent trying to sell the war on terror. He spoke of a New York Times article that came out in 2002 which poked fun at the government for selling the war. Fr. Harak’s PowerPoint slide, which came directly from the article, read “Q: Why did our current Administration wait until after Labor Day to advertise the war? A: From a marketing stand point new products don’t sell in August.”
Fr. Harak revealed 4 economic winners in the war on terror: weapon manufacturers, private security contractors, oil companies, and reconstruction companies. According to Fr. Harak, in 2010 the Department of Defense’s budget rose by 3.4% while the money for private security contractors (also known as mercenaries) rose by 23% in Iraq and 29% in Afghanistan. Lockheed Martin, Halliburton, and Bechitel, which are all war profiteering companies, have been making profits in the millions of dollars since the start of the war.
Among the losers Fr. Harak listed were Iraqi citizens, social programs, community and regional development programs, and members of the army. Bechitel, one of the companies making millions of dollars in profits from the government, had 249 contracts to create safe drinking water for the Iraqi citizens and only completed 64 of them. Probably the biggest victims from these wars are the veterans. According to Fr. Harak, an average of 18 suicides a day are committed by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, while a total of 325,000 backlog claims existed for veterans in 2003 and 600,000 now exist in 2011.
An interesting quote that Harak left the audience with was, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” This reminded me to trust my own beliefs and look at everything from multiple perspectives.
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