Sunday, December 9, 2012

What We Do Best

I ran across this piece from a few months back, and in this time of soul-searching about national expenditures--the "cliff" approaches, don't forget--it's good to spend a little time reminding ourselves of where this country's money really goes. It goes to the military machine, brothers and sisters. Have you heard the screeches from the Pentagon that if the country goes over the so-called "fiscal cliff," our national security will be endangered?

How is it that we have gotten to the point in this nation that anyone, anyone with half a brain, would actually believe that taking a few hundred billion away from the military would endanger the country? You have to wonder first of all, who in the world is endangering us? There is no nation state, no group of terrorists, or jihadists anywhere who endanger the security of this country. Really? People believe we're in danger.

Well, they should consider this article. It will take you about 5-6 minutes to read, but I can boil down the salient points for you:
  • "On August 29th, the Associated Press reported that a “team of 200 U.S. Marines began patrolling Guatemala’s western coast this week in an unprecedented operation to beat drug traffickers in the Central America region, a U.S. military spokesman said . . . in the post-2001 era, along with two disastrous wars on the Eurasian mainland, we’ve been regularly sending in the Marines or special operations forces, as well as naval, air, and robotic power.  Such acts are, by now, so ordinary that they are seldom considered worthy of much discussion here, even though no other country acts (or even has the capacity to act) this way.  This is simply what Washington’s National Security Complex does for a living."
  • Are you ready for this? I don't think so. I was floored, but here it is: "the U.S. actually tripled its arms sales last year, hitting a record high, and cornering almost 78% of the global arms trade.  This was reported in late August but, like those 200 Marines in Guatemala, never made onto front pages or into the top TV news stories.  And yet, if arms were drugs (and it’s possible that, in some sense, they are, and that we humans can indeed get addicted to them), then the U.S. has become something close enough to the world's sole dealer.  That should be front-page news, shouldn’t it?" 
Continuing from the piece:
Think of it this way: the United States is alone on the planet, not just in its ability, but in its willingness to use military force in drug wars, religious wars, political wars, conflicts of almost any sort, constantly and on a global scale.  No other group of powers collectively even comes close. It also stands alone as a purveyor of major weapons systems and so as a generator of war.  It is, in a sense, a massive machine for the promotion of war on a global scale.

We have, in other words, what increasingly looks like a monopoly on war.  There have, of course, been warrior societies in the past that committed themselves to a mobilized life of war-making above all else.  What’s unique about the United States is that it isn’t a warrior society.  Quite the opposite.

Washington may be mobilized for permanent war.  Special operations forces may be operating in up to 120 countries.  Drone bases may be proliferating across the planet.  We may be building up forces in the Persian Gulf and “pivoting” to Asia.  Warrior corporations and rent-a-gun mercenary outfits have mobilized on the country’s disparate battlefronts to profit from the increasingly privatized twenty-first-century American version of war.  The American people, however, are demobilized and detached from the wars, interventions, operations, and other military activities done in their name.  As a result, 200 Marines in Guatemala, almost 78% of global weapons sales, drones flying surveillance from Australia -- no one here notices; no one here cares. 

War: it’s what we do the most and attend to the least.  It’s a nasty combination.
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