America’s Permanent War Agenda: Military Keynesianism on Steroids – by Stephen Lendman
Previous articles discussed America’s culture of violence at home and abroad. Its entire history, in fact, is blood-drenched, glorifying conflicts in the name of peace, waging them every year in US history against one or more domestic and/or foreign adversaries.
Moreover, since WW II, America’s had a permanent war agenda for unchallengeable global dominance throughout decades without enemies since Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945.
The Pentagon calls it a “long war.” Obama is the latest warrior president following Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Jackson, Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, Wilson, F. Roosevelt, Truman, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II preceding him, as well as all others in between.
In his 2002 book, “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace,” Gore Vidal said:
“(O)ur rulers for more than half a century have made sure that we are never to be told the truth about anything that our government has done to other people, not to mention our own.”
Rhetorically resisting tyranny, supporting free peoples, and promoting democracy, in fact, masks a destructive, immoral agenda to subjugate and control, no matter the cost in dollars, public welfare, or human lives.
America’s Permanent War Economy
It’s how Seymour Melman (1917 – 2004) characterized it in his books and frequents writings on America’s military-industrial complex. On March 15, 2003, one of his last articles headlined, “In the Grip of a Permanent War Economy,” saying:
“(A)t the start of the twenty-first century, every major aspect of American life is being shaped by our Permanent War Economy.” Its horrific toll includes:
— a de-industrialized nation, the result of decades of shifting production abroad, leaving unions and communities “decimated;”
— government financing and promoting “every kind of war industry and foreign investing by US firms;” war priorities take precedence over essential homeland needs;
— America’s “permanent war economy….has endured since the end of World War II….Since then the US has been at war – somewhere – every year, in Korea, Nicaragua, Vietnam, the Balkans – all this to the accompaniment of shorter military forays in Africa, Chile, Grenada, Panama,” and protracted ones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Palestine, Somalia, Yemen, Central Africa, Libya, and increasingly against perceived homeland enemies;
— “how to make war” takes precedence over everything, leaving no “public space (for) how to improve the quality of our lives;”
— “Shortages of housing have caused a swelling of the homeless population in every major city (because) State and city governments across the country have become trained to bend to the needs of the military….;” the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) estimates nearly 90,000 homeless Chicagoans during the 2009-10 school year through June 1910, a 19.9% increase over the previous year; the National Coalition for the Homeless estimates about 3.5 million nationwide;
— the result is a nation of growing millions of poor, disadvantaged, uneducated, and “disconnected from society’s mainstream, restless and unhappy, frustrated, angry, and sad;”
“State Capitalism” characterizes America’s government – business partnership, running a war economy for greater power and wealth at the expense of a nation in decline, corrupted leadership, lost industrialization, crumbling infrastructure, and suffering millions on their own, uncared for, unwanted, ignored, and forgotten to assure steady funding for America’s wars, no matter the cost.
Melman stressed that:
“Further evasion is out of order. We must come to grips with America’s State Capitalism and its Permanent War Economy.” Re-industrialization is essential “to restore jobs and production competence – industry by industry.”
“Failing that, there is no hope for any constructive exit,” for the nation or its people.
Dwight Eisenhower’s January 17, 1961 Address to the Nation
His farewell address came 30 years to the day before Operation Desert Storm, in which he warned about the “military-industrial complex,” citing the “grave implications” of a “coalition of the military and industrialists who profit by manufacturing arms and selling them to the government.”
He stated “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence….by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
He added that:
“Every gun that is made, every war ship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, from those who are cold and not clothed.”
It results from what analysts call the “iron triangle” of Congress, the Pentagon, and war industry, including weapons and munitions makers, as well as producers of sophisticated technology for digital age warfare of a kind Eisenhower never imagined.
Today, militarism consumers over 40% of the national tax revenue at the expense of unmet human needs. It’s parasitic, unjustified economically, inefficient, ineffective, self-destructive, immoral, and illegal in all US wars since WW II. It redistributes income and resources to the wealthy, undermines physical and human capital, increases internal vulnerability to natural disasters, is too costly to be sustained, erodes civil liberties and democratic values, and heads America for tyranny and ruin.
America’s FY 2011 National Defense Authorization Act
In December 2010, Congress unanimously passed a FY 2011 $725 billion war budget, erroneously called defense.
In April 2010, Independent Institute analyst Robert Higgs broke it down in billions of dollars for 2009 as follows:
— Department of War – $636.5
— Department of Energy (nuclear weapons and environmental remediation) – $16.7
— Department of State (plus international aid) – $36.3
— Department of Veterans Affairs – $95.5
— Department of Homeland Security – $51.7
— Department of the Treasury (for the Military Retirement Fund) – $54.9
— NASA (half its budget) – $9.6; in fact, NASA is a de facto military operation, space the new war frontier; and
— military-related debt service – $126.3
Sub Total – $1,027.5
Add to it regular supplemental foreign war authorizations as well as black CIA, other intelligence, and Pentagon budgets totally at least another $500 billion for a grand total exceeding $1.5 trillion annually.
Moreover, since 1998, Pentagon spending doubled. Since 2006, it rose 20%. America spends half or more than the rest of the world combined, and Obama (the peace candidate) spends more than any previous president, waging twice as many wars as George Bush despite no prospect of winning any of them. The idea isn’t always to win. It’s to fight, the longer the better for huge profits.
At the same time, we’re broke, cutting back, slashing public services like education, healthcare, and other social needs, as well as ignoring America’s crumbling infrastructure.
America’s Addiction to War
Noam Chomsky called Joel Andreas’ 2004 book, “Addicted to War: Why the US Can’t Kick Militarism:”
An indictment of “the curse of the people – the attackers and the victims. (It) brilliantly tell(s) us why and how we must rid ourselves of this curse, quickly, or else descend to barbarism and destruction.”
Howard Zinn said it’s a “devastating portrait of US military policy,” and
Helen Caldicott called it “an addiction that could, in (the) nuclear age, destroy all life on earth, creating the final epidemic of the human race.”
The book chronicles over two centuries of war, now menacing nations globally. It explains who benefits, who pays, who loses, who dies, and why militarists fear peace so create enemies when none exist.
In his 1966 book, “How the World Really Works,” Alan B. Jones included a chapter on the “Report from Iron Mountain: On the Possibility and Desirability of Peace,” later published in 1967 by The Dial Press. It became a bestseller, then disappeared. Now few copies are available, but when circulating in the 1960s, it concerned Johnson administration officials enough to downplay it, saying it had nothing to do with policy. In fact, it very much did then and now.
It explained the elements of war and problems of peace, saying conflicts are an economic, political and ecological necessity, important to continue indefinitely. In contrast, peace “would almost certainly not be in the best interest of (a) stable society” and might be “catastrophic.”
In fact, general disarmament would require “scrapping….a critical proportion of the most highly developed occupational specialties in the economy.”
Diverting an arms budget to a “non-military system (is) remote (in a) market economy.” Replacing it with public works is “wishful thinking (and) unrealistic.”
War is “the basic social system, within which other secondary modes of social organization conflict or conspire. (It’s) the system (that’s) governed most human societies of record, as it (does) today.”
No other control mechanism approached its effectiveness. War-making potential doesn’t result from threats. In fact, “threats against the national interest are usually created or accelerated to meet the changing needs of the war system.”
Significant nonmilitary war functions and benefits were claimed to exist, including economic protections against depression, and stimulus contributing to the rise of gross national product and individual productivity. Nothing else devised “can remotely compare to it in effectiveness.” It’s the “essential economic stabilizer.”
In addition, war’s political importance is crucial. It defines and enforces relations with other nations. National sovereignty and the traditional nation-state depend on it. The war system is essential to internal political stability. “Without it, no government has ever been able to obtain acquiescence (to) its legitimacy, or right to rule its society.”
A nation’s authority over its people “resides in its war powers,” including local police to deal with “internal enemies in a military manner.”
Military service has a patriotic purpose “that must be maintained for its own sake.”
Wars also serve an ecological purpose – “to reduce the consuming population to a level consistent with the survival of the species,” but mass destruction is inefficient, and nuclear weapons are indiscriminate, removing physically stronger members important to save.
Because of medical and scientific advances, pestilence no longer can control populations effectively, balancing them with agriculture’s potential. As a result, other measures are needed to control “undesirable genetic traits.”
An effective political substitute for war requires “alternate enemies….of credible quality and magnitude, if a transition to peace is ever to come about without social disintegration.” Most likely, “such a threat will have to be invented.”
Other extreme considerations were also reviewed, the report concluding that:
Permanent “war is the foundation for stable government. It supplies the basis for general acceptance of political authority.” It lets societies maintain class distinctions, ensuring subordination of citizens to the state, run by elites with “residual war powers,” to unleash at their whim. In other words, for militarists and profiteers, war is good, the more the better. Winning doesn’t matter, just waging them.
Libya – America’s Latest “Big Muddy”
Highlighting Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam quagmire, Pete Seeger’s “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” condemned “the big fool say(ing) to push on.” Today it’s Eurasia, Libya Obama’s latest entanglement, promising more protracted war against another non-belligerent illegally, menacing world peace, stability, national solvency, and democratic freedoms.
Like his predecessors, Obama glorifies conflicts and the righteousness of waging them, packaged as liberating ones for democracy, freedom, justice, and the best of all possible worlds. He’s just the latest in a long line of warrior leaders, waging war for peace, justifying them by bogus threats, and calling pacifism unpatriotic to further an imperial agenda for greater wealth, power, and unchallengeable global dominance – a national sickness heading America for tyranny and ruin.
As a candidate, he campaigned against imperial militarism, promised limited escalation only, and pledged to remove all combat troops from Iraq by August 31, 2010. He lied. War in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan continue unabated, now another in Libya to control the entire Mediterranean Basin, then on to another, and still more ad infinitum, no matter the cost or social consequences.
On March 30, New York Times writers Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt headlined, “CIA Agents in Libya Aid Airstrikes and Meet Rebels,” saying:
“….CIA operatives have been working in Libya for several weeks as part of a shadow force (Obama) hopes can help bleed Colonel Qaddafi’s military….”
In fact, CIA agents have been in Libya and throughout North Africa and the Middle East for years along with UK MI 6 officers. Moreover, “current and former British officials said that (hundreds) of British special forces and….intelligence officers are working inside Libya. (They’ve) been directing airstrikes from British jets and gathering intelligence about the whereabouts of” Gaddafi’s forces and heavy weapons.
On March 30, Reuters headlined, “Exclusive: Obama authorizes secret help for Libya rebels,” saying:
He signed a secret “finding” in recent weeks “authorizing covert US government support for rebel forces,” including CIA and special forces aid, as well as weapons, though officially “no decision has been made about providing arms….” On March 29, Secretary of State Clinton tacitly confirmed it, saying:
“It is our interpretation (of SC Resolution 1973 to include) a legitimate transfer of arms (to rebel forces) if a country should choose to do that.”
UK Prime Minister Cameron concurred, saying:
“Our view is that this (resolution) would not necessarily rule out the provision of assistance to those protecting civilians in certain circumstances.”
In other words, when America and Britain wage war, anything goes, in fact, whether or not any UN resolution authorizes it. Washington especially has its own rules of engagement, concerned only about defeating adversaries by any means, within or outside the law.
The CIA declined comment on involvement in Libya, including about Khalifa Hifter. Once a top Libyan military officer, he spent the last two decades in suburban Virginia. Reportedly he has longstanding CIA ties. On or about March 24, he was appointed top military commander for Libya’s rebel forces.
In other words, CIA’s man is running insurgent belligerence, directing cutthroat killers, terrorizing areas they control, exposing Washington’s disdain for humanitarian intervention, as well as its direct involvement against a sovereign leader, whether democrat or despot.
A Final Comment
On March 28, Global Research published the testimony of Russian doctors in Libya, confirming the bombing of civilian targets, what, in fact, America does in all wars, civilians as fair game as combatants the way they’ve been waged in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan with no major media discussion, airbrushing truth from all reports.
An open letter from Russian doctors to Russia’s president explained saying:
— “blatant (US and NATO) aggression (is ongoing) against (another) sovereign country – Libya;”
— “….bombing of Tripoli and other cities in Libya is aimed not only at the objects of air defense and Libya’s Air Force and not only against the Libyan army, but also the object of military and civilian infrastructure;”
— bombing around “densely populated residential areas” is ongoing;
— “bombs and rockets struck residential houses and fell near the hospital;” a wall in the maternity ward collapsed; 10 miscarriages resulted; the women are in intensive care, doctors fighting to save them;
— they’ve been dozens of deaths and injuries; and they call this “protecting the civilian population?”
— “With full responsibility as witnesses and participants of what is happening, we state that the United States and its allies are thus carrying out genocide against the Libyan people – as was the case in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Clearly, America and co-belligerents France and Britain plan replacing Gaddafi with a subservient puppet, serving Western, not popular, interests. Libya’s corpse will be divided and controlled, its people exploited, their freedoms given no chance to materialize, their land irradiated by toxic munitions, harming their lives and futures irreparably.
April 1 marks two weeks of war, the start of months or perhaps years of protracted conflict, assuring widespread death, injuries, disabilities and destruction. A previous article explained it’s assured when America arrives – on depleted uranium cruise missiles, bombs and shells, not white horses for humanitarian intervention, peace and democratic values, notions all US administrations disdain.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.