Flirting with Anti-imperialism

by Robert Nagle on 5/16/2007

in political rhetoric,World Affairs

Chalmers Johnson on why the US drive to create an empire will harm us:

The cult of silence on this subject began to slip only slightly in May 2007 when a report prepared by the Army’s Mental Health Advisory Team was leaked to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Based on anonymous surveys and focus groups involving 1,320 soldiers and 447 Marines, the study revealed that only 56% of soldiers would report a unit member for injuring or killing an innocent noncombatant, while a mere 40% of Marines would do so. Some militarists will reply that such inhumanity to the defenseless is always inculcated into the properly trained soldier. If so, then the answer to this problem is to ensure that, in the future, there are many fewer imperialist wars of choice sponsored by the United States.

Also For fiscal year 2006, Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute calculated national security outlays at almost a trillion dollars – $934.9 billion to be exact – broken down as follows (in billions of dollars):

Department of Defense: $499.4
Department of Energy (atomic weapons): $16.6
Department of State (foreign military aid): $25.3
Department of Veterans Affairs (treatment of wounded soldiers): $69.8
Department of Homeland Security (actual defense): $69.1
Department of Justice (1/3rd for the FBI): $1.9
Department of the Treasury (military retirements): $38.5
NASA (satellite launches): $7.6
Interest on war debts, 1916-present: $206.7

Totaled, the sum is larger than the combined sum spent by all other nations on military security.

Also, a list of the best films about war by a noncritic. I would add: Cranes are Flying, Ran, Ballad of a Soldier, and for escapism, Starship Troopers.

From Bill Moyers video journal: Marilyn B. Young skewers the rhetoric of Condi Rice . From the same site, an interview with Carlo Bonini about why a crazy forgery about Chad yellow cake was trusted by three governments.

Nonsequitur identifies some empty words that pundits use to malign or extol a policy: to say someone has a clear plan (for friends) or to have a fashionable plan (if you don’t like it).

Personally, I disapprove of the metaphor of “winning the war.” There are very few circumstances where you “win” a war (especially in an age of asymmetrical warfare). We don’t win wars; we resolve them; we heal from them; we stop them; we make them unnecessary; we minimize its casualties. War is not a game that we play to show off how macho and serious-minded we are. War creates victims everywhere. The aim of good governance is to prevent wars and to establish a counterweight to the  scabrous vengeance demons who are always braying  that some evil government  ought to “pay the price.”  If there’s one thing George W. Bush did right when he pulled off the “Mission Accomplished” PR stunt, it’s creating the expectation that the fighting would (and should) decline very soon. When a politician talks about “winning the war” you know he  is appealing to your dumbass sense of pride. Winning the war is sometimes impossible, and sometimes very expensive to do. If winning the war means running up our debt to unsustainable levels, how have we really won? Winning the war often means maintaining a permanent state of occupation as a preventative measure. Which only sets us  up for further attack.

My suggestion for the war budget is to create a “war tax.” Maybe there should be a constitutional amendment mandating a $1000 war tax on taxpayers earning more than $100,000 to pay for the war. (I honestly have no idea what the numbers are). Isn’t it funny how George W. never mentions “war” and “raise your taxes” in the same sentence.

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