Andrew Bacevich related a quote from one of the nation’s Founders. It was written early in American history but has bearing on today’s events. According to Bacevich, in 1795, James Madison wrote: “war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies. From these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, debts and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under dominion of the few…No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
Here’s a reminder of how many U.S. dollar-funded (debts still owed) Middle Eastern Wars have been ongoing: Persian Gulf War: 1990-1991, Iraq War, 2003-2010, Afghanistan/Other 2001-2010, and of course our advisors and Special Forces are still active in the Middle East. According to one source, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars cost more than 4 trillion dollars.
President Obama in his speech on 6th Dec, 2015, called for more military action: “Finally, if Congress believes, as I do, that we are at war with ISIL, it should go ahead and vote to authorize the continued use of military force against these terrorists. For over a year, I have ordered our military to take thousands of airstrikes against ISIL targets. I think it’s time for Congress to vote to demonstrate that the American people are united, and committed to this fight.” Never at any point in his speech did President Obama voice doubts about whether military actions in the Middle East should continue. And he should have doubts because disorder there has only increased since the United States started making war in the Middle East.
Deepak Lal wrote a book that discussed American empire aspirations that have affected American foreign policy since the neoliberal era began after WWII. Most Americans, according to Lal, by contrast, advocate for strategies under the Wilsonian doctrine of supporting equally sovereign nations. Most ordinary Americans don’t have an empire sized ambition to control world politics. But during the neoliberal era, many politicians in American government have sought to influence global politics through military actions. The U.S. military has been used to enforce U.S. hegemony in far away places by establishing hundreds of military bases. Here’s Lal’s quote,
“As most of the failed or failing states in Africa and the Middle East are rich in the natural resources whose rents have been misused by their predatory elites, a depoliticization of these rents is required to restore order. An INRF (International Natural Resources Fund) maybe the answer.” Has the level of disorder in Syria risen to the level of depoliticization? Political order in Syria seems to have fled and Vladmir Putin criticized U.S. military actions in the Middle East for causing more political disorder there.
Recently, Russia has pushed back against the U.S.’s continuing ambition to influence politics in the Middle East by utilizing military force. What everyone can see is that military conflicts are on the rise. And U.S. debt has far surpassed numbers that are easy for Americans to understand (almost 19 trillion dollars). And continued warfare will continue to rob prosperity from the American economy. Our government’s empire project has surpassed what is affordable and its lingering debt has become oppressive. But that’s not all.
The War on Terror has also been used to justify curtailing the rights of ordinary law-abiding Americans. Constant surveillance of meta-data, although ruled in American courts as unconstitutional has continued. Restriction of Second Amendment rights and First Amendment rights, Fourth Amendment rights, Fifth Amendment rights and other rights that belong to all Americans have been called for repeatedly and the spoken urgency for restricting freedoms seems to be increasing as politicians call for further restricting everyone’s rights . The purpose of the U.S. Constitution is to limit the power of government and to protect natural rights (as only partially listed in the Bill of Rights). This creates political interests in common and prevents some forms of political predation against less powerful Americans.
Although some politicians would ignore the U.S. Constitution they should not do so because ignoring the U.S. Constitution is political aggression against political order. So even though President Obama calls for more Second Amendment restrictions and more warfare, it’s important to respect the U.S. Constitution’s protections which serve to prevent political predators from harming law-abiders. As for the San Bernardino shooters, they are both dead. And if they weren’t dead, they would have been arrested and prevented from causing further harms. The goal of law enforcement is to protect Americans from violence by penalizing the violent. Law enforcement can act as a deterrent to violence but preventing violence isn’t a goal that can work for us. That’s because preventing violence isn’t possible. And further curtailing American freedoms is only a form of tyranny. The U.S. Constitution is meant to create political order by preventing the political abuses of tyranny by limiting the power of government. Increasing the government’s power won’t protect anyone.
Finally, the United Kingdom was the last empire class nation and it had a global monetary system that worked to stabilize currency and commodity values. It was the strict gold standard. Part of the unrest in the world today, is being caused by the failure of a fiat monetary system to stabilize economic prices and values. Instead, monetary instability continues. This instability harms businesses and stimulates global political aggression. Rather than reaching for a political solution based on bombs, soldiers or advisors, a better solution would be to address stability problems in the global monetary system.
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Sources: James Madison quote in, Andrew J. Bacevich, The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, (Oxford University Press, New York, 2005), 7.
Deepak, Lal, In Praise of Empires: Globalization and Order, (Palgrave MacMillan, New York, 2004), 104.
Stephen Daggett, “Cost of Major U.S. Wars, Congressional Research Service, 7-5700, June 29, 2010, http://www.crs.gov, fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RS22926.pdf accessed 2014.
Pierce Nahigyan, NationofChange/News Report, 18 Feb. 2014, “Wars In Afghanistan, Iraq to Cost U.S. Over $4 Trillion”, http://www.nationofchange.org/wars-afghanistan-iraq-cost-us-over-4-trillion-1392732855/, accessed 2015.
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