The causes of personal liberty, free markets, small government, peaceful international commerce and overall capitalist prosperity have taken a severe beating in Washington during recent decades, and the ultimate culprit is not hard to identify. To wit, these causes need a champion in the contest of governance within the nation’s two party system—an arrangement which the US Constitution more or less ordains owing to single-member winner-take-all congressional constituencies.
But today there is no Opposition Party worthy of the name—only a bipartisan uniparty conjoined in the endless aggrandizement of the state.
To be sure, that proposition would come as news to GOP party operatives and even to a goodly share of the MAGA grass roots. They genuinely do believe that they are on the side of the people versus the bureaucrats and careerist elective politicians, and are therefore doing god’s work as the non-statist party in the enterprise of democratic governance.
Overwhelmingly, however, they are not because they have been infected with the virulent statist disease bivouacked on the Pentagon side of the Potomac. We are referring, of course, to the Warfare State and the neocon/hegemonist foreign policy which animates it.
Plain and simply, the latter is not based on the empirical facts of national security. There are no true threats to the liberty and security of the American homeland anywhere on the planet today that even remotely justify the nation’s $900 billion defense budget proper, and the $1.3 trillion total cost if you count the foreign aid/security assistance complex and the deferred cost of unnecessary wars embodied in the $250 billion Veterans compensation and health care budget.
That kind of mega-threat ended when the Soviet Union disappeared into the dustbin of history in 1991. Today, Russia’s $1.8 trillion GDP is a veritable joke when arrayed against the $45 trillion of GDP resources embedded in the US and the balance of NATO, including, apparently, the $600 billion GDP of Sweden, which is now to become the 31st NATO member, so as not to be the odd man out in all of Europe.
That is to say, serious military threats in today’s world of advanced weaponry require either an overwhelming nuclear first strike checkmate capacity or the vast industrial might that would be necessary to breach the great ocean moats and deliver an invasionary armada of massive conventional forces to the New Jersey shores—backed-up with vast air- and sea-lift capacity and gigantic logistics arrangements that have scarcely been imagined by even the most fervent writers of futuristic war fiction.
As it happens, of course, Russia has no nuclear checkmate capacity at all, and has now thoroughly demonstrated that it doesn’t have the industrial and conventional military capacity to conquer and occupy even what has been its own borderlands and vassals—lands with a pre-February 2022 GDP of, well, $200 billion.
That’s right. We are talking about Ukraine—-an alleged “victim” of Russian aggression with just 0.4% of NATO’s GDP– where Moscow has not yet secured even the historic Russian-speaking, Russian-settled and Russian-built territories of what was known historically as Novorussiya. That is, after 17-months of attack, Moscow has not yet pacified the largely pro-Russian regions from Kharkiv through the Donbas, Mariupol and the Black Sea rim to Odessa—an expanse which was actually part of Russia until Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev assigned them to the previously non-existent Soviet Socialist Republic Of Ukraine.
And, yet and yet. Even though Putin is way too smart to even contemplate an invasion of what would be the very different and deeply hostile territories of Poland, the Baltics, Rumania, Slovakia and European points west and south, we are supposed to believe that Russia is a military threat to America’s security way over here on the far sides of the Atlantic and Pacific.
Likewise, China has a GDP of $17 trillion, but internal and external debts totaling a staggering $50 trillion. And the latter is based on Beijing’s own dubious numbers, meaning that the true extent of its Red Ponzi is surely far greater.
So when you cut to the chase it’s simple: The Red Rulers of Beijing keep their economic house of cards from going all pear-shaped by virtue of $3.5 trillion of annual export earnings, largely from North America and Europe. Were it to literally bomb its own customers, Beijing would have to effect hundreds of Tienanmen Squares to pacify a panicked population of 1.4 billion that would be suddenly staring into an economic abyss.
So the West Coast is not going to be invaded, either. There is simply no conceivable nuclear or conventional military attack from either of America’s alleged enemies that can endanger the nation’s homeland security.
To the contrary, the reason for the $1.3 trillion national security budget is not real military threats, but ideology and economic self-interest. And while the latter is obvious enough—President Eisenhower presciently warned about the military-industrial complex 62 years ago—the quantitative dimension of it has never been given its due.
The fact is, America’s massive national security budget is a fiscal perpetual motion machine. Hidden in its cracks and interstices is literally tens upon tens of billions that fund not the manufacture of weapons and the training and upkeep of forces, but the inflated threat studies and the vast phalanxes of experts, analysts and think tank lobbyist that keep the Washington narrative well-stocked with foes, enemies, threats of war and actual wars on which the whole enterprise is predicated.
We have called this the greatest self-licking ice cream cone in recorded history, but the massive resulting fiscal burden is only the half of it. The real evil is that the Warfare State employs much of Washington’s top officialdom, and an especially disproportionate share of its GOP wing, in the business of “doing good” on a global stage—an arena that does not need Washington’s helping hand at all.
But doing good becomes habit forming when you have the unlimited power to tax the output or to borrow on the credit of the greatest economy in world history. And it fuels n interventionist mind-set—especially among elected politicians who serve for decades and rise to the top of the Congressional power structure—that readily spills over into all of the activities of government, foreign and domestic alike.
With respect to the international stage, we are referring to all of the nostrums, rationalizations, excuses and hypocrisies which keep the Washington hegemon busy on a 24/7 basis all around the planet: The Rule of Law, the Liberal International Order, the Sanctity of Borders, the Responsibility to Protect and Collective Security are just some of the cover stories for what amounts to the Washington Imperium.
None of these ideological platitudes hold water or are relevant in today’s world, and all militate in the direction of less national security, not more.
The false underlying predicate, in fact, holds that the global community is everywhere and always crawling with would be totalitarian monsters like Hitler, Stalin or Mao and that peaceful democracies are always imperiled by weak leaders slouching toward the next Munich.
Not at all. Hitler, Stalin and the so-called Cold War were once-in-history aberrations that rose from the carnage of World War I and Woodrow Wilson’s folly in taking America into it in 1917 when there was nothing remotely at stake in terms of its legitimate Homeland Security.
That is to say, a so-called liberal US president in 2023 is unleashing the unspeakable cluster bomb weaponry on the long-suffering population of Ukraine when absolutely nothing relating to American homeland security is a stake—all because Wilson opened the gates of hell 106 years ago with an equally threadbare justification.
Yet Washington has become so accustomed to fighting the wrong wars which flowed from that foolish intervention that it now embraces fairy tales—-such as that Washington is again “winning” the Ukraine war just like in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya et. al.—-and justifies the use of American cluster bombs on the grounds that they are less deadly to children and civilians than the Russian ones.
Worse still, all of this international do-gooding is at variance with the true conservative doctrine which holds that the state is an inherent instruments of mischief, whether acting on the domestic or international stage.
So now, having embraced neocon interventionism and Washington’s global hegemony, the GOP Senators generally and Republican national security committee members of both houses specifically have become thorough-going statists—advocates for an institution which needs to be shackled, not unleashed in the cause of human betterment.
Reprinted with permission from David Stockman’s Contra Corner.
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