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The high cost of needless wars - nation-building vs. community building

James Clingman | 9/9/2013, 9:42 a.m.
James Clingman

In light of the fact that we pay for wars, and even threats in the Middle East, via gasoline prices, we will likely feel the impact of this one in our wallets as prices rise and all the excuses begin to leak out. We will be told it’s the speculators, world market prices, supply and demand, and price gouging. We will hear all of the same reasons that now have us thanking the industry for $3.50 a gallon gasoline. They teased us with their up and down prices and then lulled us to sleep; we woke up feeling comfortable with $3-plus prices. Now, we think it’s a bargain if we find gas for $3.15, and we rush to get it, depending on what state we live in.

The oil barons, U.S. or foreign, have us by the throats and they will soon be choking the dollars out of our pockets again if this war jumps off as anticipated. I deeply sympathize with the people of Syria, but right now, as in the case of Egypt, we don’t know who our friends are and who our foes are in their civil war. We cannot continue to be the policemen of the world: we must take care of the numerous problems we have in this country, mass incarceration of Black men, health disparities, the growing wealth gap for Black people, the high unemployment rate for Blacks, especially our youth, and the desperate and dangerous condition of our infrastructure, namely, our bridges.

Our nation-building efforts should begin with this nation. As Ron Daniels has called for a “Domestic Marshall Plan” to rebuild America’s dark ghettos, after attending the commemorative March on Washington, he also wrote, “After the countless billions of dollars squandered in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan since 1963, the gauntlet should have been thrown down for America to make a huge deposit on the ‘promissory note’ King referenced in his speech a half century ago. How can the U.S. justify ‘nation-building’ in Iraq and Afghanistan and refuse to do ‘community-building’ on behalf of her long-suffering sons and daughters of Africa in America?”

Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his website, http://www.blackonomics.com.