War Inc.

Vantage Point
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Those who profit from war “are the enemies of democracy in the homeland,” and “amassing enormous fortunes out of the world’s misery.”

I’d like to take credit for those words, but I can’t. Wisconsin Senator Robert La Follette bravely spoke them in 1917, during the height of World War I.

It’s amazing how some things don’t change in 90 years.

Or consider U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell speech, warning of the dangers posed by the “military-industrial complex”—those who profit by manufacturing weapons and selling them to governments.

When it comes to moving public funds onto corporate ledgers, no force can rival war. Even natural disasters of tsunami or Katrina proportions, or the global campaign against HIV/AIDS, consume just a few days’ worth of shock and awe.

War is big, big business. Each year the nations of earth spend more than $1 trillion (US) to build and flex their military muscles. $1,000,000,000,000! That’s 15 times what gets spent on international aid and development. So much for “If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink” (Rom.12:20, NRSV).

Christians must not only tear up the balance sheet of War Inc., but we need to scrutinize our own investments to ensure we are not personally profiting from war.

I apologize if, somewhere, someone is still driving a 1966 Volkswagen van with the last surviving bumper sticker that reads, “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came?” Let’s replace that faded icon of the Vietnam War era with one that says, “Suppose they gave a war and nobody got rich?”

If, in 1917, Senator La Follette could speak out against the profiteers of war, surely the church can do so in 2007. Our commander is the Prince of Peace, but when we must wage war, let’s remove any earthly conflict of interest and make it not-for-profit.

About the Author

Ken Bosveld is publisher of Beacon magazine and a member of Calvary Christian Reformed Church, Flamborough, Ontario.