The Business of America is War – by Stephen Lendman
Noted trends analyst Gerald Celente said it, and it’s true. In fact, America’s business is war, more war, multiple wars, permanent wars, pillaging one nation after another for wealth, power, and dominance, while homeland needs go begging.
America never was and isn’t now the “land of the free and home of the brave.” In fact, it’s become a “Let ’em eat cake” society.
Whether or not Marie Antoinette actually said it, France’s 1789-99 revolution was very real, delivering guillotine justice, not promised “Liberte, Egalite, and Fraternite,” a status now destroying what’s left of American freedom, heading for the trash bin of history if not already there.
Earlier articles discussed Washington’s wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and Yemen, as well as numerous proxy ones in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and at home against Muslims, Latino immigrants, and working households.
Combined, they represent a shocking contempt for rule of law justice, democratic values and humanity, notions now mere artifacts long ago abandoned to advance America’s imperium.
As previous articles explained, out-of-control imperialism is heading America for tyranny and ruin. In her 1951 book, “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” Hannah Arendt said it’s “never content to rule by external means, namely, through the state and a machinery of violence; thanks to its peculiar ideology and the role assigned to it in this apparatus of coercion, totalitarianism has discovered a means of dominating and terrorizing human beings from within.”
She called it dictatorship based on:
“(1) an elaborate ideology;
(2) a single mass party;
(4) a technologically conditioned monopoly of communication;
(5) a monopoly of weapons; (and)
(6) a centrally controlled economy.”
Duplicitously called a democracy, today’s America nearly qualifies:
(1) Its ideology is concentrated wealth and power.
(2) It’s governed by a two-party duopoly – the money or property party, excluding alternative choices.
(3) It’s the world’s leading purveyor of state terrorism, waging global wars against nations, groups or individuals, including targeted assassinations of its own citizens.
(4) Major media managed news gives it dominant (not monopoly) communication control, but efforts to subvert Internet discourse and debate may undermine its free and open content.
(5) Corporate-run society makes it centrally controlled for bottom line priorities, excluding other choices.
In her book, “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil,” Arendt said crimes of state aren’t committed by fanatics or sociopaths, just “terrifyingly normal” (people)….neither perverted or sadistic….who accepted the premises of their superiors and their state” to continue current and/or longstanding policies.
In his book, “On the Justice of Roosting Chickens,” Ward Churchill agreed, explaining what he called the “technocrats of empire,” functioning as “little Eichmanns,” banally serving imperial interests, no matter how lawless or evil. They could say “no,” of course, but go along to get along, including at the highest levels. For them, it’s to share spoils, no matter the harm or human misery globally.
Churchill’s many books and writings discussed 500 genocidal years against America’s indigenous peoples, as well as its global imperial apparatus. Touching the right nerves persuasively, the University of Colorado disgracefully fired him in summer 2007, a pattern repeated elsewhere against other activist professors, notably targeting Israeli critics like Norman Finkelstein, Joel Kovel, Denis Rancourt, and Sami Al-Arian among others.
Al-Arian was also lawlessly arrested, tried, acquitted, imprisoned, brutalized, then freed, but remains under house arrest awaiting dismissal of spurious charges against him.
Imperial America’s War Machine
The empire never sleeps or tolerates anti-war activism, threatening its quest for unchallengeable “full spectrum dominance” over all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum and information systems with enough overwhelming power to fight and win global wars against any adversary, including with nuclear weapons preemptively.
September 11, 2001 served as pretext to consolidate power, destroy civil liberties and human rights, and wage permanent wars against invented enemies for global dominance over world markets, resources, and cheap labor – notably at home and throughout
Eurasia, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia at the expense of democratic freedoms and social justice.
In its 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the Pentagon called it the “long war.” Dick Cheney said wars won’t end in our lifetime, and former CIA Director James Woolsey said America “is engaged in World War IV, and it could continue for years….This fourth world war, I think, will last considerably longer than either World Wars I or II did for us.”
In his 1990 address to a joint session of Congress, GHW Bush called it a “New World Order,” preparing the public for Operation Desert Storm and years of war and occupation of Iraq, perhaps knowing Serbia/Kosovo, Afghanistan, and other targeted states would follow.
Obama is America’s latest warrior president, succeeding numerous past ones, including Washington, Madison, Jackson, Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, Wilson, F. Roosevelt, Truman, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, GHW Bush, Clinton, and GW Bush preceding him.
Today’s stakes, however are far greater and riskier because of Pentagon grand plans, including militarizing space as a platform for future wars. A previous article explained, accessed through the following link:
It discussed plans to position nuclear, other state-of-the-art weapons, and delivery systems to wage multiple wars from space anywhere on short notice. Under Obama, the policy remains in place. His May 2010 National Security Strategy:
“reserve(s) the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend our nation and our interests.” In other words, to wage preemptive wars, using first-strike nuclear and other destructive weapons “to keep the American people safe (and advance the nation’s) values and ideals,” pursuing unchallengeable global/space dominance, ruling by intimidation and war, making the world safe for capital.
During the Cold War, MAD (mutually assured destruction) held both sides at bay. Today’s strategy includes “more flexible options (for) a wider range of contingencies (with weapons) to optimize performance.” It means destroy an adversary’s capabilities preemptively, then target others to eliminate all challenges to US dominance.
With America on a nuclear hair-trigger, it reinvented MAD in new form, threatening potential global nuclear winter, defined as “a long period of darkness and extreme cold that scientists predict would follow a full-scale nuclear war, a layer of dust and smoke in the atmosphere cover(ing) the earth and block(ing) the rays of the sun, (causing) most living organisms (to) perish.”
Anti-nuclear expert Helen Caldicott says “one single failure of nuclear deterrence could end human history (quickly). Once initiated, it would take one hour to trigger a swift, sudden end to life on this planet.” Only nuclear disarmament and abolition of nuclear weapons can stop it, what’s never discussed or considered.
On January 17, 1961, Dwight Eisenhower coined the phrase “military industrial complex” in his farewell address, saying:
“….we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
As he prepared to leave office, he could hardly imagine the difference 50 years would make, transforming fortress America into a colossus, waging permanent global wars, spending unconscionable amounts on militarism and threatening planetary survival in the process.
On April 17, 2010, Independent Institute analyst Robert Higgs said annual “defense-related spending greatly exceeds the amounts budgeted by the Department of Defense,” presenting FY 2009 data, the most recent figures available.
The official $636.5 billion spent way understated a growing annual total even Higgs can’t fully identify, given enormous black budgets and hidden add-ons, likely totaling hundreds of billions of dollars. What’s known for FY 2009, however, in billions of dollars includes the following:
— Department of Defense: $636.5
— Department of Energy (nuclear weapons and environmental cleanup): $16.7
— Department of State: $36.3
— Department of Veterans Affairs: $95.5
— Department of Homeland Security: $51.7
— Department of the Treasury (for Military Retirement Fund): $54.9
— Half of NASA’s budget: $9.6
— Net interest attributable to past-debt-financed defense outlays: $126.3
Total: $1,027.5 trillion
Moreover, the National Priorities Project’s analysis of FY 2010 discretionary spending showed 62% spent for military-related purposes, including 4% for veterans’ benefits.
For FY 2012, the House approved $690.1 billion, an 8.4% increase (though below the $725 FY 2011 budget, a temporary drop, likely compensated for with add-ons). The Senate will approve a similar amount. If the entire $1,027.5 trillion increases by the same amount, it raises known FY 2012 defense-related spending to $1,113.8 trillion.
In fact, with supplemental and hidden add-ons, as well as Pentagon, intelligence, and other unknown amounts, the grand total likely exceeds $1.5 trillion, a figure rising most years while popular needs go begging.
Higgs also cites the unreliability of official numbers. He believes it’s more accurate to take the Pentagon’s basic budget and double it because as much as 40% of it is black or hidden. Moreover, as Pentagon power grows, more spending accrues to congressional districts. As a result, Congress willingly goes along as jobs are allegedly created. In addition, generous campaign contributions follow – bribes to keep funding the war machine.
Congressional Affirmation of Permanent War
The current House bill, HR 1540 includes a worrisome/duplicitous Sec. 1034: Affirmation of Armed Conflict with Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Associated Forces, affirming:
“(1) the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces and that those entities continue to pose a threat to the United States and its citizens, both domestically and abroad;
(2) the President has the authority to use all necessary and appropriate force during the current armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40);
(3) the current armed conflict includes nations, organization(s), and persons, who —
(A) are part of, or are substantially supporting al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners; or
(B) have engaged in hostilities or have engaged in hostilities or have directly supported hostilities in aid of a nation, organization, or person described in subparagraph (A); and
(4) the President’s authority pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force….includes the authority to detain belligerents, including persons described in paragraph (3), until the termination of hostilities.”
In September 2001, Congress approved the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) for “the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.” Still in force today, it began the “war on terror,” giving George Bush carte blanche authority to wage global wars in violation of international and constitutional laws. A 2002 AUMF against Iraq followed.
The House (and likely the Senate) FY 2012 Defense Authorization bill affirms that authority, letting Obama as commander and chief, wage wars anywhere at his discretion. He’s taking full advantage, duplicitous congressional posturing notwithstanding.
On June 24, in fact, House Republicans and 70 Democrats rejected support for Obama’s Libya war, but defeated a measure to defund it. In other words, they authorized war at the same time symbolically rejecting it, exposing their gross hypocrisy.
America’s Permanent War Agenda
In inflation adjusted dollars, annual defense spending more than doubled under George Bush and keeps rising under Obama despite growing budget cutting pressures, given a much greater national debt burden than reported.
Officially it’s nearly $14.3 trillion (headed for an estimated $15.5 trillion by September 30), exceeding 100% of GDP at that time. Omitted, however, is another $7.6 trillion owed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other government agencies, besides future trillion dollar or more amounts added annually.
It hardly matters, given the military/industrial complex’s power to demand what it wants and get it. Today, in fact, it comprises:
— defense, technology, energy, financial, private military contractor (PMCs), and other corporate interests;
— America’s media;
— prominent think tanks and other pressure groups;
— various others benefitting from militarism; and
— the Pentagon colossus, a frightening power unto itself, threatening humanity’s survival.
The Defense Department’s FY 2010 Base Structure Report shows how large it’s become, even with important information omitted:
DOD is the world’s largest landlord with over 539,000 facilities (buildings, structures, and linear structures) located on nearly 5,000 sites, covering more than 28 million acres and over two billion square feet of space in America, its territories and overseas. In fact, these numbers way understate much higher totals as many Pentagon facilities are secret and/or unreported.
They include over 1,000 overseas bases in 150 or more countries, as well as additional secret ones shared with or leased from host countries. As of April 2009, Congressional Research Service data includes 1,402,000 total active duty US military personnel worldwide, 73,000 National Guard, and 208,000 Selected Reserves, for a 1,683,000 total.
Add to them America’s private military contractor (PMC) army, corporate mercenaries profiting from US imperialism. They perform a wide range of functions from combat to consulting to logistics, virtually anything once done by the Pentagon. Moreover, America’s intelligence agencies, State Department, Homeland Security, and other branches also use PMCs.
Overall, they’re unregulated, unaccountable, and often out-of-control, involved in some of the most controversial aspects of war from over-billing to ritual slaughter of unarmed civilians. Yet they’re not prosecuted, convicted or imprisoned, just rewarded with fat contracts costing far more for services military personnel once performed. Moreover, the more they’re used, the greater they influence war making, sustaining their bottom line priorities at the expense of a free society and vital homeland needs.
America’s New Military Industrial Complex
On March 1, 2003 Business 2.0 magazine writers Ian Mount, Matthew Maier and David Freedman headlined, “The New Military Industrial Complex” for digital age war, describing the Pentagon’s “revolution in military affairs (RMA),” comprised of “faster, lighter, smarter” cutting-edge technology warfare. Readying for it, they’re building an unchallengeable high-tech arsenal, more advanced now than then.
The old one remains and gets huge contracts for new and more traditional weapons. The result is an influential “iron triangle” of Congress, the Pentagon and defense industry. Besides major media support, conservative think tanks also like:
— the Project for a New American Century (PNAC); its “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” scheme promotes US global hegemony;
— the Center for Security Policy (CSP) headed by super-hawk Frank Gaffney endorses a policy of “Peace through Strength” and perpetual wars for perpetual peace;
— the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD) composed of hard right leaders and members, “fighting terrorism and the ideologies that drive it;”
— the National Institute for Public Policy (NIPP), focusing on defense issues, tied to the nuclear weapons industry; and
— the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), emphasizing national security and “advancing (US) global interests;” specializing in crisis management, it’s connected to the highest levels in government and the Pentagon.
The nation’s 16 intelligence agencies, including CIA, NSA, DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), FBI, Army, Navy and Air Force Intelligence, DHS (Department of Homeland Security), and Department of State comprise another component destroying a free society. They comprise a multi-billion dollar funded, largely off-the-books, clandestine anti-democratic network. Interconnected with thousands of private contractors, they’re tied to world governments and their intelligence services.
Moreover, they comprise a government/military/industrial/intelligence service/media/think tank colossus, waging global wars, bankrupting the nation, wrecking the remnants of a free society. Plagued by the same dynamic that doomed past empires unwilling to change, they also pursue the misguided notion that militarism sustains growth.
In fact, it erodes it by sacrificing industrial America, shifting production and other high-paying service operations abroad to focus on war making. As a result, essential homeland needs go begging, including healthcare, education, job creation, and the nation’s infrastructure, crumbling from years of neglect.
In his farewell address, Eisenhower said:
“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.”
In his November 2003 Harper’s article titled, “The War Business,” Chalmers Johnson said:
“(M)unitions and war profiteering have (become) the most efficient means for well-connected capitalists to engorge themselves at the public trough.” Even Wall Street profits hugely. “To call these companies ‘private,’ though, is mere ideology. (Weapons and) munitions making in the United States today (and related industries profiting from them are) not really private enterprise. It is state socialism.”
They also destroy constitutional freedoms, what George Washington in 1796 warned about, saying “overgrown military establishments (are) inauspicious to liberty.” Johnson called it America’s future, now more the present, saying, “When war becomes the most profitable course of action, we can certainly expect more of it,” sacrificing a free society for private interests reaping short-term gains.
In his book titled, “Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War,” Andrew Bacevich discussed America’s “trinity,” its global military presence, power projection, and intervention, creating a “permanent national security crisis….propell(ing) the United States into a condition approximating perpetual war.” However, “(no) evidence exists – none – to suggest that US efforts advance the cause of global peace,” just the opposite. As a result, “(o)ver the horizon, a shipwreck of epic proportions awaits.”
It’s coming perhaps when least expected. Nations that live by the sword, die by it. America is no exception, nor any other.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.