Tom Engelhardt—An America eternally ‘at war’
One could postulate explanations for why our policymakers, military and civilian, continue in such a repetitive and self-destructive vein. Yes, there is the military-industrial complex to be fed. Yes, we are interested in the control of crucial resources, especially energy, and so on.
But it's probably more reasonable to say that a deeply militarized mind-set and the global maneuvers that go with it are by now just a way of life in a Washington eternally "at war." Military actions have become the tics of an overwrought great power with the equivalent of Tourette's syndrome. They happen because they can't help but happen, because they are engraved in the policy DNA of our national security complex. In other words, our leaders can't help themselves.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch
Science & Technology
* Economics, Politics
Defense, National Security, Military
Politics in General
* International News & Commentary
Ethics / Moral Theology
Posted October 14, 2012 at 11:15 am
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The URL for this article is http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/45476/
1. Ad Orientem wrote:
This is one of the better articles I have read on our country’s insane militarism.
October 14, 5:07 pm | [comment link]
2. jkc1945 wrote:
Sorry, Tom, but I don’t think you have it. The ‘problem’ is most certainly not our leaders, or at least not only our leaders. Pogo said it: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” All of us, and not just us Americans. The problem is all of us.
October 14, 7:53 pm | [comment link]
3. BlueOntario wrote:
Tom Engelhardt needs spend some (more?) time reading Clauswitz. So do most of our policy and law makers. I do have to agree with the second post in that we the people have put the leaders we have in place and have no one but ourselves to blame for their mindless flailing.
October 15, 7:50 am | [comment link]
4. Tamsf wrote:
Maybe one of the reasons we’re so insane militarily is that we’ve seen what happens when you unilaterally disarm. It certainly is easy to sit in your comfy ivory tower and criticize the military complex that permits you the freedom to safely sit in that tower.
I would join the author in criticizing the “military-industrial-complex” that even Eisenhower warned us against. There’s a lot of money to be made pushing for weapon systems that aren’t needed or even wanted. I live in the district that builds the Boeing Osprey, a system that even the Pentagon wanted cancelled but was kept alive by votes in Congress.
But that criticism is very far from criticizing, as you have, our “insane militarism.”
It may take two to tango, but it only takes one to make war. My parents saw directly what happens when you unilaterally disarm by living thru the 30’s and 40’s of the last century. There was a strong and influential peace movement in England and the US in the 30’s. How did that work out? Really, why do you expect it to work out any better now?
October 15, 3:07 pm | [comment link]
5. Ad Orientem wrote:
I am not sure what unilateral disarmament you are referring to. World War II was the product of American interventionism in the First World War which we had no business being involved in. That in fact would seem to be a common theme for the entire history of the endless series of our military adventures over the last century or so. Of the scores of interventions and wars, great and small, only two seem to be justifiable as self defense, World War II and the campaign in Afghanistan. In both cases we were attacked. But again in both cases we were attacked only as a consequence of our meddling in affairs which did not concern us.
But that aside, I know of no one advocating that we strip the country of its defenses.
The question is do we need, and can we continue to afford, a military that consumes more money than the next 12-16 nations combined (depending on which lists you read). I would suggest the answers are no and no. The Unites States is now spending twice as much money (adjusting for inflation) as it did under President Eisenhower at the height of the Cold War. This is largely being funded by debt.
The military budget currently is by far the largest piece of the American budget and it is the greatest contributing factor to our soaring national debt. This is not sustainable. Against what threat are we maintaining this vast imperial army? There is no nation on earth that even remotely threatens us and this would still be true if we reduced our war budget by half, thereby exceeding only the next six nations combined in military spending.
Math is an inconvenient discipline. Mainly due to the fact that while one can fudge numbers for a while, one cannot ignore the basic laws of economics indefinitely. If we are to maintain this vast imperial armed forces at its current size and level of funding two things will by necessity come to pass. They may be put off for a few years yet. But at some point we will have to bite the bullet as it were. Those two things are, that we will have to raise taxes and implement some form of military conscription.
Our all volunteer and massively expensive military has been strained to its absolute limits by our global adventurism. And it can’t take much more. Even high ranking generals are going on record saying that we have reached the limit of an all volunteer force that was never designed for a decade of continuous war on multiple fronts.
And then of course there is the question of money. With the national debt now exceeding $16 trillion how long can we continue to fund our imperial foreign policy on borrowed money? My answer is that were it not for the mess in Europe we would already have hit the credit wall. The distraction being created by Greece and Spain has bought us a little time. But not much.
A reality check is coming. And it is going to be painful.
October 15, 5:23 pm | [comment link]
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