When I was a little kid growing up in the US I used to go into my grandfather's office where he told me more than once that war was good for business. I despised the concept as a teenager during the US war on Vietnam.
The US is currently involved in multiple large-scale wars abroad and despite momentary dips the Dow Jones Stock Exchange average has steadily risen. It is now around 75 percent higher than when the war on Iraq began in March 2003.
However, grandpa was right. In the US, wars are fought in somebody else's country, but manufacturing the bombs, tanks, warplanes, artillery, ships, uniforms and food rations is a trillion dollar business. While it is the corporate elite who reap the gigantic profits, well over a million working and middleclass US citizens are dependant on an active war machine.
Meanwhile, Iraqis, the supposed beneficiaries of the US-led invasion and occupation, see a very different picture. Repeated opinion polls show a vast majority agrees the "liberation" mission has made things worse.
The US media reports as bad news the death of more Pentagon soldiers or contractors and the destruction of military hardware. However, behind the closed doors of corporate boardrooms the reports are seen in dollars and cents.
Every uniform ripped apart, every bullet shot, every bomb dropped, every Humvee charred, every crashing chopper is something to be replaced and in some cases upgraded. And in this game, the suppliers name their price and the government passes the bill on to the taxpayers.
It's a no-lose situation for CEOs, as virtually none of their sons and daughters or those of Congress members go to war or come home in flag-draped coffins.
None of their homes or public utilities are destroyed, none of their fields poisoned. None of their children die or lose limbs from playing with unexploded ordinances or suffer decades of consequences from high levels of radiation.
The path to Iraq could now be Iran's.
Five key ingredients characterized the period preceding when George W. Bush and his top brass were preparing to launch the fated attack on Iraq.
First was the determination to go to war and President Bush and his associates had longed to finish a job begun by George H. with the Gulf War in 1991 and gain control of the country's oil production and reserves.
Secondly, alleged stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and a supposed link between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were the pretexts that were hammered into public opinion on a non-stop basis.
The third factor was Washington declaring the 12 years of UN sanctions and its trail of severe hardship on the Iraqi population insufficient to stop Saddam Hussein from developing WMD.
During the month preceding the attack an unprecedented military build up took place in the area, the fourth ingredient.
Then, days before Washington unloaded its cluster and bunker buster bombs using depleted uranium on Baghdad, the State Department issued its courtesy "get out or else" calls to friendly foreign embassies there, leaving others to take the hint. By the time ancient buildings were turned to rubble only the Cuban, Vatican and Russian embassies remained.
Many now fear that attacking Iran will be the next stimulus to US business.
Plans for attacking Iraq's neighbor have been on the table at Pentagon strategy rooms for a long time; although State and Defence Department spokespersons still deny that they are contemplating military action. Nonetheless, the five steps used before attacking Iraq are being applied in Iran.
The longing to control Iran and its oil and gas reserves dates back to 1979 when the US-backed Shah - installed after a coup in 1953 - was overthrown by an Islamic Revolution and an embarrassing hostage scene at the US embassy that lasted 444 days and probably cost Jimmy Carter his re-election.
The pretexts for going to war have been in place for months. The US accuses Iran of wanting to develop nuclear weapons and of aiding the resistance movement in Iraq.
The current spat with Tony Blair, over 15 intruding British marines in Iranian waters, reminds one of the pretexts for Israel's 2006 attacks on Lebanon and Palestine, supposedly over a few captured soldiers. Like in Iraq, Bush will want Blair to join an eventual attack.
The new sanctions approved on March 24 to hurt the Iranian economy and development plans are unacceptable to Iran, just as the UN Security Council played into the US hand with unacceptable demands on Hussein's Iraq.
President Mahmoud Ahmainejad said the sanctions violate Iran's "legal and inalienable rights" to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes as dozens of countries around the globe. The 118-member Non-Aligned Movement currently chaired by Cuba supports that right.
Curiously, the original idea for Iran to diversify with nuclear energy came from the US, which sold the Shah a reactor back in 1959.
To many analysts it is a foregone conclusion that the White House will soon proclaim the sanctions ineffective as justification for tougher action with or without UN consent.
Independent of Congress, a troop and military hardware build-up has already occurred in recent months and continues in an effort to increase the Pentagon's firepower and troop strength in the region. Israel, the region's nuclear power, is also poised to get involved if Washington so desires.
The final prelude to war has yet to occur. Hopefully it will never come. Numerous foreign embassies from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas are still operating normally in Iran. However, the tension is mounting and Iran watchers are on the lookout for signs that an aggression is near.
(Circles Robinson is a US journalist living in Havana.)