A report by the Wall Street Journal has been circulating how the United States spent $14 trillion of taxpayers’ money on wars in the last 20 years and how the war contractors pocketed nearly half of this colossal amount. The WSJ collected the data from Brown University’s Cost of War Project. Although the university is doing commendable research by digging into the cost of wars, the superpower launched and the human lives lost by both the attackers and the attacked, will it help stop wars in the future? No. The wars have become a profitable industry. What Maj Gen Smedley Butler, with two medals of honour, wrote in 1935 in his book “War is a racket” holds true even today, more than eight and half decades later. A few lines from the first chapter of his book define how warring has become a highly profitable proposition more than ever. “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 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.” Veritably, weapon manufacturers and contractors make windfall profits out of the wars. Leading among them in the US are Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co, General Dynamics Corp, Raytheon Technologies Corp and Northrop Grumman Corporation. In 2020 alone, the Pentagon awarded Lockheed Martin contracts worth $75 billion. And leading among the contractors would emerge Black Water and its CEO Eric Prince. Black Water recruited former soldiers from various countries whose job was to kill Afghan fighters resisting the occupation of their country. True to its name, the company became famous for its black deeds in Afghanistan. After a reprehensible defeat in Afghanistan, the superpower must look for new war theatres to keep its war-based economy kicking. Not to talk of the developing countries, the military-corporate interests are intermingled even in the most developed countries. Recall how Halliburton was given logistics contracts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The company had to set up military bases, maintain equipment, and provide food and laundry services. By 2008, a whopping sum of $30 billion was paid to the company. Is it by chance that Dick Cheney had served as its CEO before becoming vice president in Bush’s administration? Incidentally, that was the time when US-made breakfast cereals, honey, and other foodstuffs were readily available in the Baara markets of Peshawar. After twenty years of war and reprehensible defeat in Afghanistan, the superpower must look for new war theatres to keep its war-based economy kicking. When opportunities to wage a war don’t exist, these could easily be created on one pretence or the other through mainstream corporate media. For instance, a guest speaker in a Fox News programme last December said, “China right now and Russia, they’re both testing hypersonic missiles that can turn New York City to ash. Russia is developing and has developed satellites that can push our satellites out of orbit and completely cripple our military.” This is how the propaganda to promote an underhand agenda works and public minds are influenced. In the same interview, the conniving guest added, “We need a military that’s flat out hostile. We need a military full of Type A men who want to sit on a throne of Chinese skulls. But we don’t — we don’t have that now.” Did he mean the same Type A men who sat on a throne of Afghan skulls for more than two decades? Pun, not intended. However, the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom launched in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks completely devastated the poor country. The only change after more than twenty years of occupation is that there’s no change other than its overall devastation. Afghanistan was wrested away from the Afghan people more than two decades ago and, after innumerable deaths and destruction of their infrastructure, they have recaptured their land and repeated history. Isn’t it time for the superpower and its coalition partners, who destroyed Afghanistan, to help the poor country get back on its feet? Instead, the US has frozen nearly $9.5 billion in assets that belong to the Afghan central bank (Al Jazeera report). Western powers teach the underdeveloped world moral values and human rights. The writer is a Lahore-based columnist and can be reached at email@example.com.