Friday, January 11, 2013
dept of deficit reduction
If the civilian government said "No" to the Pentagon, what would happen? Nobody, since Truman said "No" to MacArthur, has ever put it to the test. Why is that?
We were supposed to get a "peace dividend" after the Soviet Union collapsed. But we all know how the civilian government, in the wake of 9/11, managed to create an enemy as big and scary as the Russians were, out of nothing more than a few rag-tag terrorists who possess no regular army, navy, or factory-produced weapons of their own. (Terrorism is the only weapon available to otherwise powerless people.)
This is the two-ton elephant in the living room nobody wants to see. It appears fairly obvious to me that the U.S. government, no matter which party is in charge, is now set on a course under which it is obligated to have an enemy whose ferocity, real or imagined, justifies a nearly trillion-dollar annual expenditure for weapons and ongoing warfare, and if no such enemy appears in the natural course of events, then we are obliged to create one.
If this country has indeed degenerated into a military dictatorship, if the civilian government exists only for the sake of funding the war and weapons sector of the economy, then we have become the ultimate destroyer of world peace. If that's what's happened, it's unacceptable, and we need to take the country back. However, it very well may be too late to do so.
This piece ran here originally as the end part of an essay published in October of 2010. Illustration: lithograph, "The General," by Saul Steinberg.