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Is the core of the U.S. ethos militarism?

BARBARA WALKER Granny Peace Brigade | 10/21/2011, 11:20 a.m.

Well known is President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Jan. 17, 1961, farewell address to the nation, in which he said, "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex."

General Smedley D. Butler (at the time of his death in 1940 the most decorated marine in U.S. history), in his book "War is a Racket," emphasized that in war, profits are tallied in currency and losses are tallied in lives. War, he said, is "conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the very many." He also wrote of his own stark fear in the battle zone.

We know that some high school students, after talking with recruiters, believe that military service may be a good avenue for expressing their patriotism, pursuing career development, obtaining funds for college or other further education. But there are nonmilitary avenues as well, which can be found in the leaflet "Options for Life After High School," compiled by www.codepinknyc.org and www.grannypeacebrigade.org.

I was 8 years old in December 1941. When we arrived at school on Monday morning, Dec. 8, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, we were told we were at war and were sent home. We ran home.

Scared, I crawled under the dining room table. I think I have never been as scared since. Children in the Eastern Hemisphere were also scared. War was waged. Bombs fell there but not here. Are we callous in part because this continent has not known modern warfare?

And now in modern warfare, the battlefield is the town, the village, the home. How many of us have seen "Fallujah in Pictures," "Afghanistan in Pictures"? Awful! There has to be another way for major conflicts to be resolved. And shouldn't there be examination of cause and effect; action and reaction? Shouldn't there be oversight to eliminate opportunities for war profiteering?

Several decades ago, matriculation at the colleges of the City University of New York was basically free. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell knows this, I know this, as do friends of mine-we all attended city colleges. Can we not again have financially accessible public colleges and universities and reasonable arrangements for financial assistance for those attending private colleges and universities?

Access to higher education is just one of the major national areas of concern. On what are our priorities based? Does "enlightened self-interest" matter?