U.S. Politicians and their Love of the Military

W.J. Astore

James_Madison_1894_Issue-2$
James Madison.  We need his wisdom more than ever.

If there’s one area of bipartisan agreement today, it’s politicians’ professed love of the U.S. military.  Consider George W. Bush.  He said the U.S. military is the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known.  Consider Barack Obama.  He said that same military is the finest fighting force the world has ever known.  Strong praise, indeed.

Today’s politicians are not to be outdone.  This past weekend at Camp David, Paul Ryan praised the military for keeping America safe.  Mike Pence noted the military remains “the strongest in the world,” yet paradoxically he said it needs rebuilding.  He promised even more “investment” in the military so that it would become “even stronger still.”

Apparently, no matter how strong and superior the U.S. military is, it must be made yet stronger and yet more superior.  All in an effort to “keep us safe,” to cite Paul Ryan’s words.  Small wonder that the Pentagon’s budget is soaring above $700 billion.

It didn’t use to be this way.  President Dwight D. Eisenhower, formerly a five-star general and a man who knew the military intimately, warned us in 1961 of the anti-democratic nature of the military-industrial complex.  James Madison, one of America’s founders, warned us in the 18th century of the perils of endless war and how armies drive authoritarian tendencies and contribute to financial debt and national ruin.

Ike knew that national safety shouldn’t be equated with military prowess; quite the reverse, as he warned us against the unchecked power of a burgeoning military-industrial-Congressional complex.  Madison knew that armies weren’t “investments”; rather, they were, in historical terms, positive dangers to liberty.

But for America’s politicians today, the idea of national safety has become weaponized as well as militarized.  In their minds personal liberty and national democracy, paradoxically, are best represented by an authoritarian and hierarchical military, one possessing vast power, whether measured by its resources across the globe or its reach within American society.

Our politicians find it easy to be uncritical cheerleaders of the U.S. military.  They may even think they’re doing a service by issuing blank checks of support.  But Ike and Madison would disagree, and so too would anyone with knowledge of the perils of military adulation.

6 thoughts on “U.S. Politicians and their Love of the Military

  1. I think it’s incredible in just over 50 years how nearly every politician has ignored Ike’s warning about the MIC. All the founding fathers warned us about standing armies and the dangers they produce. But as Chalmers Johnson warned “When war becomes the most profitable course of action, we can certainly expect more of it”.

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  2. Hmm. You sure it’s a “love of the military” Col Astore, or, is that the ONLY thing these contemporaries after Eisenhower know? No Golden Gate Bridges going up recently with these clowns. And they fought hard to protect Congressional ‘insiders trading’: obviously needing it to bet & invest in the MIC. Saw an aerial view of Sen. Diane Feinstein’s ‘house’ – it looks like a Versailles style palace. How the hell do you pay for that without a MIC? Find a war she didn’t want? Impossible!
    Getting back to basics, Capitalism is when both industry & it’s control is in private hands. Fascism is when industry is private, but control in government hands. Communism; both in government & ownership control.
    So my feeling is Amerika today is really fascism. Oh yeah, they love to brag about different ‘brands’ – Lockheed Martin, Boeing, etc. supposedly making them all ‘private’. But that’s a fallacy. The sick joke in all of this, is no matter how much vodka they pumped into Yelsen, he never split up or sold off the old Soviet military complex. The old commies were not capitalists! Product quality 1st! Today their superior jets zoom around ours & France’s & Britain’s. Still under government ownership & control. And after the West’s humiliation in Syria, I doubt Russia’s gonna’ change.
    The MIC has bankrupted us. And we got nothing for our tax $. Just more trouble & expense.
    I ease my mind with ‘transportation’ – ships, cars, trains. One I like is Friedrich Geiger, hired my Mercedes Benz in 1930. He designed those mouth watering roadsters in the 30’s. Then…forced to design Hitler & Reich’s limousines. There was no choice – “DO IT!” He did, but held no bitterness after WW2 & did the FABULOUS ‘Gull Wing’ as his retirement gift. He went from being a slave of Nazism to realizing a better world.
    That is now our task as Americans: we must break our ties philosophically to FASCISM!

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    1. Thanks. I tend to avoid fascism as a label. Everyone thinks of Nazi Germany, so there’s a tendency to say, “We’re not Nazis, so it’s not fascism.”

      Maybe crony capitalism — or just plain kleptocracy mixed with an authoritarian oligarchy. Whatever you label it, it’s not of, by, and for the people.

      Ike nailed it. It’s the anti-democratic power of a military-industrial-Congressional complex. Why do our politicians bow before it? For many reasons, I think: opportunism, careerism, nationalism, genuine belief in the military and militarized solutions, jobs. You see all the bowing and scraping when generals come to testify before Congress, with each Member of Congress taking pains to applaud and thank the military. Weird — the military is supposed to be subservient to Congress and the President, not the reverse.

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