I find two recent events extremely troubling and disturbing.
One is a bill that seems to allocate uncapped sums of money for another unjust, unnecessary, unwinnable war — this one with Iran. The other is a proposed Nashville city budget that threatens to shut down Nashville General Hospital and Meharry Medical College.
Does it make any sense whatsoever that the self-avowed “greatest nation on earth” can spend trillions of dollars on wars that resolve nothing but cannot provide basic health care to poor people, including pregnant mothers and their babies?
This has become a recurring theme in the United States, which has become the most warlike nation on earth. Our founding fathers warned us strongly about the dangers of foreign entanglements and being lured into other nations’ disputes. Now we are paying the price, as our warmongering politicians inform us that we cannot afford to cut military spending, and therefore must rip apart the safety nets they love to call “entitlements.” Well, those “entitlements” happen to be our money, and trillions of our dollars have been used since WWII on fruitless attempts by our government to democratize nations like Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Those attempts have failed, and any attempt to democratize Iran is also likely to fail. If Iran does not become a stable democracy and our ally, the war will have made Iran more likely to seek nuclear weapons and/or employ terrorism against us. But Iran has never attacked us, and to our knowledge there have been no major acts of Iranian terrorism against the United States. Iran’s dispute is with Israel, which constantly threatens Iran for possibly seeking weapons that Israel possesses illegally and has never allowed the UN to inspect. Iran has not invaded its neighbors repeatedly in recent years, but Israel has, so at best the pot seems to be calling the kettle black.
In my previous article I wrote about the new United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, which just passed the House of Representatives by the astonishing vote of 411 to 2. This bill seems to be the precursor to war with Iran because it provides Israel with refueling tankers, bunker-busting bombs and unlimited amounts of money and other weapons. Financing an Israeli war with Iran will undoubtedly cost American taxpayers billions of dollars. If the war is protracted, it could cost hundreds of billions. And the U.S. will have no way to end the war if it goes badly, since Israel essentially controls U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East through its powerful lobby.
At the same time, we face the possible shuttering of Nashville General Hospital, thanks to Mayor Karl Dean. His proposed new budget would slash funding for the hospital to such an extent that it probably couldn’t survive. Meharry Medical College uses the hospital to train its student doctors, so it seems quite possible that a fine medical school could also go down the drain.
And what would happen to uninsured patients? General is the city’s only charity hospital. While private hospitals do treat the uninsured, there are exceptions, such as people who need ongoing health care, including diabetics and pregnant women. General has earned high marks for prenatal care, but now disadvantaged girls and women will be endangered, and so will their babies.
If General closes, the people who will be hit the hardest are, of course, the poor. According to Councilman Jerry Maynard, “People with no insurance would have nowhere else to go.” He added, “I believe it is cowardly to go after the most needy residents of Davidson County to balance the budget.”
If we have to choose between spending a few million dollars to care for poor pregnant women and their babies and spending tens or hundreds of billions of dollars on unjust, unnecessary, unwinnable wars, the choice seems obvious.
As I pointed out in a previous article, former heads of Israeli intelligence agencies have called leaders of Iran rational while questioning the rationality of Israel’s leaders.
If Iran is rational, and Israel isn’t because of its leadership, how can we choose to give mega-billions to Israel if we can’t afford to care for American citizens?
But by a vote of 411 to 2, the U.S. House of Representatives seems to disagree. I can only conclude that our leaders share a common affliction with Israel’s leaders: insanity.
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.