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EXCERPT: I never gave much thought to what the term “war profiteer” meant. Not during Vietnam, or the military build-up during the Reagan Era, during the Persian Gulf War, or even now.
Recently I’ve given it a little more thought. After all, other than listening to political posturing and rhetoric, the War on Terrorism hasn’t touched me much. Oh sure, there’s long lines at airports and the presence of combat uniformed and armed soldiers where you’d never seen them before. But that’s about the extent of the War on Terrorism in my life.
Anyway, when someone talks about a war profiteer, I think of fat politicians with a big smoky cigar in dingy back rooms counting banded stacks of money. Or military industrialists gleefully offering contracts worth millions to provide the military whatever it needs to fight a war. Trucks, tanks, helicopters, fighters, ships, bombs and rockets, all of the way down to bullets, weapons cleaning kits, MREs, and mosquito repellant.
War really does create a profit for some people.
But, I think the best definition was given by a middle-aged man, a Native American in, of all places, Las Vegas - that glittering man-made altar of graft and corruption erected to sex and gambling in the barren desert. He wasn’t a politician or attorney, those specialists who can give new meaning to old words, but sometimes he had a way with words.
I’ll call him Job.
The name is appropriate. You could see the weariness and resignation in his thin, lined brown face. His hair was once jet black but now heavily streaked with gray. When he talked he barely moved his lips because he was missing his upper front teeth, which he was embarrassed about.
He was divorced, and though he had children they weren’t close. He adored his grandchildren but rarely saw them because one lived in another state and the other, though she lived in Las Vegas, was rarely allowed to visit because of ill feelings between her family and one of his sons.
He never had much of a break in life because that was his pre-ordained path or he didn’t know how to really make good decisions. He had a lot of experience, but no college degree…