Everything seems so peaceful in America. I took a dip in the ocean today, blue sky overhead, little kids running around, people passing on kayaks or boards: it all seemed so normal. You’d never know the “defense” budget is once again pegged near $750 billion; you’d never know America is in a state of permanent war; you’d never know that even basic services like mail delivery are under attack by the Trump administration. Even as the postal service is starved of funds, in an attempt to discredit it and privatize it for corporate greed, even as Americans lose their health care during a pandemic, people are still taking vacations, enjoying the sun and fun. Can you blame them?
I suppose it was like this at the tail end of the Roman Empire. People were partying, enjoying life, acting normal, even as the empire was collapsing around them.
And so it goes in this hot and humid American summer. Meanwhile, greed-war has been with us since at least the 1950s, as C. Wright Mills noted, and war is an even bigger racket now than it was when retired General Smedley Butler lodged his dissent in the 1930s.
If America is to reverse its decline and fall, putting an end to greed-war should be first on the list. But how are we to do this, when Congress kowtows to the military-industrial complex and our presidents lack the guts to challenge seriously the military and its corporate handlers and fellow travelers?
Perhaps we might recall that one day, long ago, America took pride in a small military and a foreign policy that tried to avoid unnecessary foreign entanglements?
Just about the only candidate who took on the military-industrial complex was Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard; for this, she was smeared as a Russian asset by no less a chickenhawk than Hillary Clinton. NBC News also accused Gabbard of being a servant of Russia just before she announced her candidacy. And yet Gabbard is a serving officer (a major) in America’s armed services.
Naturally, when Gabbard withdrew and endorsed Joe Biden, she suddenly became a patriot again to the powers-that-be. Her fate is a cautionary tale to anyone who attempts to pump the brakes on greed-war in America.
Maybe I just need to take a deep breath and another plunge into the ocean, while there’s still time …
Ike in 1959: Too critical of the military to be elected today
President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his most powerful speech as he left office in 1961. He warned the American people about an emerging military-industrial complex, a complex that was already beginning to erode democratic rule in America. Originally, Ike had Congress as a collaborator with and enabler of that Complex, but he deleted the reference in the final version, apparently deciding that by alienating Members of Congress, he’d only push them further into the Complex’s corner.
The military-industrial complex, the Complex for short, has only grown in power over the last half-century. Today, more than half of Federal discretionary funding goes to it. With the post-9/11 addition of Homeland Security and more and more intelligence agencies (seventeen of them at last count), the Complex continues to grow like Topsy. It consumes roughly $750 billion each…
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