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 Cost of Militarism is Socialism?

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Could Militarism abroad mean Socialism at home?

© 2012 Dan Litwin



January 3, 2011

What if, after considering all the realities of politics and corruption, the true cost of maintaining the US world-wide military presence is actually socialism at home?

In politics, deals are made. And I think we need to consider the kind of deals being made for the purpose of gaining support in Congress for the most powerful and expensive military in history.

Let’s face it. America’s not just defending herself. She’s policing the world. Could it be that many of the Congressional votes for such an aggressive military are only available when traded for votes to implement regulations, subsidies, bailouts and social programs of all sorts?

Again, keep in mind that we’re not just defending ourselves. A modest proposition, such as a basic, serious defense force, could not be exploited by anyone in Congress who wanted to trade a vote. Not many could be re-elected after voting against having a basic, serious defense. Those votes are a given.

But a basic, serious defense is not what we have. We are a “super-power”. Getting Congressional votes for super-spending on our super-military takes serious politicking, and there’s no doubt that votes are traded with the opposition. And who are the opposition? In a word, socialists.

Both factions – the militarists and the socialists – are trying to amass great power. Each may even complain about the other’s abuses of power. But neither walks away from the deal-making. They want what they want. They trade what they need to trade. They’re powerful and corrupt – seemingly seduced by their power to affect so many lives.

The vote trading has been evident to me since the Reagan years. Reagan wanted a “Star Wars” missile defense and a buildup of all things military. And somehow, the President who was going to “get big government off your back” became the bigger budgets, big debt president. He got his bigger military. But because Reagan was adamant about beefing up a world-wide military many times larger than necessary for the “common defense” the Constitution calls for, he was forced, politically, to trade away the reductions in government he’d promised. Social programs even grew. That’s apparently what it took to get the votes in Congress.

Where’s the discipline?

Consider that neither our world-wide militarism nor our national socialism is authorized by the Constitution. Both missions, in that context, seem controversial to me. Both missions, in any context, are wild extensions of the power that the Founders meant for our Federal government to have. And when your proposals are controversial and power-amassing, you will have to give a lot to other members of Congress in order to get what you propose.

In short (hat tip to Lord Acton): Super-power = super corruption.

Americans are fed up and a new faction is forming. This new faction proposes something more moderate: A serous, basic military defense combined with a lean, Federal defense of civil liberties so that your state, city or private efforts to solve problems can work in the context of a healthy economy.

If the only disagreement between you and a certain emerging libertarian Republican is about military spending; and if that certain Republican happens to be staunchly in favor or your positions on just about everything but military spending…

bulletDoesn’t it make sense to consider that militarism might be just one more government program, used in a big bargaining game that’s mortgaging our future?

bulletDoesn’t it make sense for all other nations (Germany, Japan, etc.) to take responsibility for their own defenses?

bulletDoesn’t it make sense to review our mixed results in the Middle East? And to ask whether or not US support of practically every player in the region is like throwing gasoline on a fire?

bulletDoesn’t it make sense to ask why in the world America needs an ally in the Middle East in the first place, exactly what this ally might ever do to defend us, and whether our alignment with them brings us trouble?

bulletDoesn’t it make sense to tell Israel – who has 300 nukes and a modern economy – that we’re just a little low on cash, pretty sure they can take care of themselves, and that we’d gladly take in as immigrants any Israelis who are afraid to stay in the Middle East under the new circumstances?

bulletDoesn’t it make sense to tell rich oil companies that they have every right to do business in the Middle East, but that we’re not going to tax anyone to pay for their security any longer?

But more than anything else, doesn’t it make sense that choosing to scale back to a serious, basic defense would position us to quit trading votes, and actually pull the rug out from under the rest of our big government?

It’s a big choice, I know. But I think the facts show that if we choose to keep up our mission as a super-power, then we are choosing socialism, too. And if that’s so, we should own up to it and stop complaining.

The new faction is making us the only better offer we’re going to get. It cuts across the board, offering strict adherence to the disciplines outlined in the Constitution.

What will we do?

Will we confirm that we prefer the current path to insolvency? Or will we finally restore America by rejecting militarism and socialism - the inseparable pillars of big government?


© 2012 Dan Litwin