The Military Madness Machine
The 2013 Pentagon blueprint to continue our military hegemony worldwide is titled “Sustaining Global Leadership: Priorities For 21st Century Defense.” That sounds innocuous enough, I suppose, but one sentence in the main text is more starkly revealing: “The U.S. must maintain its ability to project power in areas in which our access and freedom to operate are challenged.” In other words, you’ve got resources we need and we’re taking them, and anyone who challenges us will be blown into red mist. It’s the hubris of American exceptionalism, once called Manifest Destiny. Because we’re the greatest country in the world, we’re entitled to whatever we want. Along with our military superiority, we have another huge advantage — we have God on our side, and apparently He doesn’t care for heathens, or black, brown, and yellow people, any more than we do.
This nation was born out of war, when we won independence from the British. Then we had to do it again, in 1812. We committed genocide against the Native Americans as we moved west. In the 1840s was the Mexican War. In 1853 Commodore Matthew Perry “opened” isolationist Japan to trade by pointing the Navy’s guns at them, and the doctrine of gunboat diplomacy was born. We were drawn into two world wars, but the rest of the time we’ve kept busy flexing our muscles. It reminds me of a good friend, who has probably been in a hundred bar fights, and swears he never started a single one. He’s a really big guy, too.
America is saturated with the culture of warfare; it’s everywhere we look. From G.I. Joe and toy guns, to the propaganda of war movies, to video games, warfare is part of our DNA. Our most popular sport is football, which is basically ritualized warfare. And all the big sports events are partly sponsored by ads for the armed forces. For telling it like it is, here’s the slogan on a current TV ad: “U.S. Navy: a Global Force for Good.” Not good as a virtue, but more as permanently, I’d say. The Navy’s Blue Angels or Air Force’s Thunderbirds fly overhead at sporting events or spectaculars, to the delight of slack-jawed, misty-eyed crowds. The uniforms now are even designed by Hugo Boss — now with stylish new berets!
Military language is a linguistic family of its own. Secure the perimeter, project force, command and control, escalation dominance, strategic stability, and so on. When I was in the Army we used to joke about their anal retentive nomenclature with “glands, mammary, w/nipples, two each.” Civilian casualties are either “soft targets” or “collateral damage.” It’s cold and clinical, which I suppose it must be. You can’t let emotion and reason get in the way. It’s top-down, no questions. If you’re career military, war is the only thing giving purpose to life. Without war, what would the generals do, play pinochle? Promotions of rank are so much faster in combat situations, as well.
We ignored President Eisenhower’s warning about the military industrial complex, and today we have over 700 military bases in over 140 countries. We lead the world in weapons exports — defense contractors are getting pig-wealthy. And we’re one of only a few nations who haven’t singed on to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (Israel is another). Below is a list of U.S. military interventions since 1900. To be fair, many of these were humanitarian missions, but not that many. The rest were mostly to prop up business friendly dictators, or to help them put down rebellions. As you peruse the list, see how many Caucasian Christian nations you can find.
1898 – 1902 — Cuba, Philippines 1958 — Lebanon, Panama
1901 — Panama 1961 — Cuba
1903-04 — Dominican Republic 1962 — Laos
1904 – 05 — Korea 1964 — Panama
1907 –– Nicaragua, Honduras 1965 –– Indonesia
1909 — Cuba, Panama 1965 – 66 — Dominican Republic
1910 — Nicaragua 1966 – 67 — Guatemala
1911 — China, Honduras 1969 – 75 — Cambodia
1912 — Cuba 1970 — Oman
1913 — Mexico 1971 – 73 — Laos
1914 — Dominican Republic, Mexico 1973 — Chile
1914 – 18 — Haiti 1976 — Angola
1915 – 18 World War I 1981 — Libya
1916 — Mexico 1981 – 92 — El Salvador
1917 — Cuba 1981 – 90 — Nicaragua
1918 – 22 — (Eastern) Russia 1983 — Grenada, Lebanon
1920 — Guatemala 1983 – 89 — Honduras
1922 — Turkey 1986 — Bolivia, Libya
1922 – 27 — China 1989 — Libya, Panama, Philippines
1924 — Honduras 1990 — Lebanon, Saudi Arabia
1925 — Panama 1991 — Kuwait, Iraq
1932 — El Salvador 993 – 95 — Bosnia, Serbia
1941 – 45 — World War II 1994 – 96 — Haiti, Zaire
1945 — Korea 1997 — Albania
1946 — Yugoslavia 1998 — Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan
1947 — Uruguay 1999 — Columbia
1947 – 49 — Greece 2001 – 13 — Afghanistan, Pakistan
1948 — Germany (Berlin airlift) 2003 – 13 — Iraq
1948 – 54 — Philippines 2008 – 13 — Somalia, Yemen
1950 — Puerto Rico 2010 — Honduras
1951 – 53 — South Korea 2011 — Libya
1953 — Iran 1954 – 75 — Vietnam
1954 — Guatemala 1956 — Egypt
2012 — Rep. of Congo, Guatemala
2013 — still in Iraq, Afghanistan, Congo, Somalia, Guatemala, Yemen,and who knows where else.
We’ve heard a lot about nation building in the last decade, in reference to Iraq and Afghanistan. How’s that coming along? In Iraq there have been 2000 deaths due to sectarian violence just from April through June of this year. The rest of the world is getting our message: be nice, or we’ll bring democracy to your country too. Then there’s the horrific cost of war on our soldiers, the PTSD, traumatic head injuries, and suicide. The suicide rate among active duty military has been higher than battlefield deaths for the last couple years. And the suicide rate among veterans is far higher.
Americans are war-weary, our military is broken, and we make new enemies every time a Hellfire missle from a drone crashes a wedding party. This is why the cushiest job in the world is recruiting for the Taliban. We’ve been spending about $2 billion a week in Afghanistan, though we’re told we’re drawing down. I would bet that if we spent that money building roads, hospitals, and schools (especially girls’ schools), no one would want to be a Taliban recruiter; people wouldn’t listen to them. Yes, we have enemies who wish to harm us. Maybe we should ask ourselves why there are so many. I hope you will print out the list above, and carry it with you in your wallet or purse. And the next time you hear someone ask “Why do they hate us?” you can pull out the list and show it to them.
We could easily cut half the Pentagon budget without compromising security. Close most of those 700 military bases, cancel contracts with defense contractors for weapons we no longer need, and use that money here, where it’s most needed. With the world as it is now, and weapons technology being what it is, we can no longer afford the luxuries of endless war. It’s been said that to a man whose only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Let’s give him some other tools.
The war isn’t meant to be won, it’s meant to be continuous. — George Orwell, 1984.