War is a Racket is a short book (and also a speech) by Smedley Butler that discusses who profits from war.
War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.”
When George Bush announced the invasion of Afghanistan, I did the college teacher thing and posted this picture on my door without comment.
Here is the explanation I didn’t put on the office door. The painting shows assistant surgeon William Bryde’s arrival at the fort at Jalalabad in 1842 – 16,500 had left Kabul. Bryde was the only Briton to make Jalalabad. The 44th had one officer, one sergeant, and seven privates taken prisoner who also survived the evacuation. The first Anglo-Afghan war is listed as an Afghan victory.
The second Anglo-Afghan war ended a little better for the British:
This painting is “The Last Eleven at Maiwand.” Note the little dog – we have no idea how Bobby survived until the rest of the 66th came into Afghanistan, and the little dog came into camp when the bugle called. Queen Victoria described Bobby as “Pomeranian-like – but I think her bias for Pomeranians was showing. The 66th lost its colors and the Queen’s colors. Bobby received the Afghanistan campaign medal from the Queen, not the Victoria Cross.
The second Anglo-Afghan war is recorded as a British win.
The third Anglo-Afghan war resulted in Afghan independence.
Over 40 years ago, a friend told me of his experience on a carrier’s flight deck during the evacuation of Saigon. You can get a carrier a lot closer to Saigon than to Kabul.