Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why Do We Have An Isolated Military Enclave?

"War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. "- George Orwell

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." -Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Even now as the fumes of war rhetoric circulate concerning a possible attack on Iran's nuclear sites, and a Russian Defense Minister two days ago warned of the possibility of nuclear war, the United States appears unable or unwilling to control its rampant war meme. On the one hand, we understand that this war meme is part economic, given defense now claims 58 cents of every federal dollar. Hence, there will always be a vested interest in sustaining and even expanding it. No surprise then, that since 9-11 the military-defense budget has effectively doubled to nearly $790 billion a year. This has been over a period while our roads, bridges, sewer and water mains have approached third world standards for collapse.

Do we get it? We seem not to! Indeed, we appear hell bent on preserving empire status which is - to be truthful - not sustainable either socially or fiscally. Consolidating the impetus to Empire was the document NSC-68, prepared by Paul Nitze (of the National Security Council) and completed by 1950. The document essentially contained the blueprint for unending strife and undeclared wars, all of which would be invoked on the basis of a zero tolerance threshold for foreigners’ misbehavior.

The putative basis? To enable U.S. agitation, overthrow (or assassination) of democratically-elected leaders, and large and small occupations (ranging from the few thousand troops in the Dominican Republic in 1965, to more than 200,000 in Iraq by 2006.)

The motivating force of the document was clear in this regard:

a defeat of free institutions anywhere is a defeat everywhere

In other words, any place the U.S. even remotely sense what it construed as “defeat of free institutions” gave it license to intervene at will. This critical aspect is described thusly by Morris Berman (Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire, W.W. Norton, page 118):

"Nitze emphasized the importance of perception, arguing that how we were seen was as crucial as how militarily secure we actually were. This rapidly expanded the number of interests deemed relevant to national security

In other words, it provided the formula for unending war, and the building of Empire. That Empire now oversees 2.4 million in arms scattered over seven continents.

What we also know about emerging or sustained empires is that they tend to evolve hard core military enclaves, especially when there is no shared basis for conducting campaigns of war. For example, the Roman armies were largely sequestered from the people of Rome up to the Empire's collapse arising from military overstretch. In effect, Roman warriors felt apart from the Roman commonweal and didn't think twice abot robbing or raping the peasants, say to gain sustenance or satisfy themselves. The Empire itself saw no evil in draining the peasants, farmers of their crops for tax purposes to support the widespread armies stretching from Britain to Judea.

Now we see, from the recent TIME magazine (Nov. 21, 'An Army Apart', and story on page 34 'The Other 1%') that the U.S. has also developed such an isolated enclave, though to be sure they haven't yet embarked on any domestic raids or whatever. Why should they? According to TIME (p. 39 graphic) their average pay and benefits now amounts to some $86,000 a year. Compare this to about $38,000 for the average American. Then these guys wonder why the country doesn't give them the attention they believe they merit? How the hell can it when most people are trying to hang onto homes, keep their kids clothed and fed and unable to find decent paying jobs - say that pay even half in benefits or pay of what these personnel are receiving?

But there are other more pernicious reasons for the polarization of a 1% military enclave relative to the civvie populace. I touched on a number of aspects in a previous blog:

Therein I noted the reason for the tiny 1 % of the population serving is no mystery because today's warriors operate as a volunteer force. This is radically different from the 1960s, 70s when the draft called young men from all walks of life. Many studies conducted since the military ditched the draft show the main reason for joining is not patriotic but rather economic. Further, the region most represented is now the South - the former Confederacy - which also is the most religious region and the most politically conservative. No surprise then that while 23% of the general American public votes Repub, up to 36% of vets do! Also, more than half of military now serving regard themselves as "conservative".

Thus, a regional and political polarity is already afoot in setting the military population apart from the civilian.

But why do so many military vets returning find themselves strangers in a strange land? Indeed, their own families express amazement and scorn that virtually no national media regularly follow the war zones or events. They have to learn about it via tweets or emails from the troops themselves.

This is not surprising because in the wake of 9/11, instead of marshalling a "we're all in this together" mentality, and using an expanded taxation to realize and underscore it, we were all told to "go shopping" - while multi-trillion dollar tax CUTS were implemented, and which are still being propagated by our dimwit pols while they yelp about "deficits".

By contrast, every manjack citizen knew from the get-go he would have to sacrifice during World War II including via gas and assorted meat rationing and higher taxes- and not one person complained! Nor did people bitch in the immediate post-war period when the high taxes helped to finance the Marshall Plan - to help pay for the reconstruction of Europe. People were smart enough then to grasp that Europe's stability meant their own - and if they paid NOW (in higher taxes) they would be less likely to pay later in another war.

Thus, the template for separation of causes, and agendas was set by our own leaders very early on, so if the military personnel want to blame anyone for their being treated as strangers or aliens in our midst, they need to lay the finger on Bushie boy and his Texas cabal. Thus, not only was no shared sacrifice demanded, but no other calls to duty were invoked, say even to control gasoline use (since oil purchases have been what fund the terror states).

In their essay, the TIME authors note:

"Under the U.S. Constitution, only Congress can declare war. But the U.S. has put troops in harm's way hundreds of times since 1941, the last time Congress approved such a resolution. And the rest of us - so long as our kin aren't involved - have gone along."

Which is unfortunately true, but also understandable, since no one in his right mind wishes to be called a "traitor" for arguing too strenuously against the paper patriots. But I already have noted the basis for the most egregious war spending which is based on the 9-11 meme, and why we must get rid of it once and for all, see e.g.

One thing we can't afford at this stage, and Occupy Wall Street needs to put this strongly on its radar too - is more defense funding! All that will accomplish is to justify more excuses to meddle in other nations' affairs, polarizing our military population even more from the civilian, and possibly lead to a serious altercation with the Russians or Chinese or both. The Pentagon's credit card must be taken away and even if automatic budget cuts of $600b go through, we can't allow them to squeal liek stuck pigs to avoid reductions in weapons expenditures etc.

Though JFK wasn’t so prescient in a specific context, his American University 'Pax Americana' speech did generically prefigure the horrific consequences if the U.S. insisted on being the policeman of the world, enforcing peace with American weapons of war. This speech probably set the foundation for Kennedy’s plan (under National Security Action Memorandum-263) to pull out of Vietnam (after the 1964 elections when political blowback would be minimal).

What we need now is to politically push for the withdrawal of all troops from the Afghan theater. If that is done, there will not be any site or place for the country to continue to situate troops and render them even more at odds with the civilian populace. As I said before, this nation is already at the precipice of backsliding into a third world redoubt where only the wealthiest can survive. We ought to have learned our lesson from the British and Russians, in their own occupations, that Afghanistan is the graveyard of nations. Or at least once relatively stable and prosperous ones.

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