USA: War business
Stan Moore

US President George W. Bush spoke with pride of America’s contributions to European freedom in connection with this year’s D-Day celebrations in France. However, there are several sides of the story that deserved to be mentioned that Bush forgot to speak about.

For instance, Bush forgot to mention that America stayed out of the war long enough for Germany to overrun France and Europe, while American businesses and banks continued doing business with Nazi Germany. For example, IBM (International Business Machines) is now documented as having developed punch-card technology specifically for managing the large numbers of victims of Nazi concentration camps. IBM workers visited the camps and serviced the machines on-site, and had to be aware of the atrocities, but were apparently not willing to let a great business opportunity go to waste.

At the beginning of the war, US ambassador to the court of St. James, Joseph Kennedy, favored staying out of the war so that business could prosper. Like many American businessmen, Kennedy did not want to let a little bickering over inconsequential morals interfere with profit-making, and Kennedy felt very strongly that America could work with and do business with Nazis. American icon Charles Lindberg felt similarly, urging Americans to avoid going to war, even as the Nazis were depriving countless Europeans of their freedom.

The Bush family was also involved in this scenario. Prescott Bush, the father of George Herbert Walker Bush, and grandfather of the current US president, headed a New York bank that handled financing and banking needs of a significant part of the German steel industry under the Nazis. Prescott Bush was actually convicted during the war under the ‘Trading with the Enemy Act,’ and fined. However, the fine did not prevent Bush from building the fortune that later put George H.W. Bush into the oil business in Texas, and George W. Bush into the same oil business farther down the freedom-fighting road. Prescott Bush himself, who hushed the news of his wartime conviction, managed to get himself elected as US Senator.

America’s role as liberator of Europe was far more complex than portrayed by history books and story-telling politicians. America may very well have prevented the onslaught of Nazi hordes against Europe by taking a principled stand at the beginning, but profit trumps principle then and now.

‘America stands for business’ is the slogan that was popular then and is equally true today. Unfortunately, the biggest business of all is war; peace-building is not a source of corporate profit. America continues to set the stage for – and fights – wars around the world, before rebuilding and seeking credit for its ‘contributions’ to mankind.

When one gets past the flag waving and the glorification of war, a reasonable question, asked only by the minority, is – can’t we find a better way of resolving conflicts than by fighting wars? Can’t we build peace and prosperity for its own sake?

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