America's Juggernaut - the Perma-War Machine
"We kept our country at peace. We never went to war. We never dropped a bomb. We never fired a bullet. But still we achieved our international goals."
C'mon, quick. When was the last year that America was not involved in active combat? You have to go back quite a ways, to the Carter administration.
The United States is and has almost always been in a state of war. Warfare has shaped the country, transformed what once aspired to be a democratic republic into a state burdened by a near permanent wartime economy.
In 1953, Dwight Eisenhower chose the president of General Motors, Charles Wilson, to become his defense secretary. In his confirmation hearing Wilson was grilled about whether his substantial holdings in General Motors could give rise to conflicts of interest. He replied, "I cannot conceive of one because for years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa. The difference did not exist. Our company is too big. It goes with the welfare of the country." Over time that was rehashed as "what's good for GM is good for the country."
Flash forward 70 years. Now, substitute General Dynamics for General Motors. Behold today's military/industrial/neoconservative/Christian fundamentalist/corporate warfighting complex and the era of 'forever wars.' Former US Army commander turned academic, Andrew Bacevich has chronicled the mutation of American society in his 2010 book, "The New American Miltarism" - here, here and here.
Today, Americans have become inured to living in a permanent warfare state. It has been programmed into them. It has become part of mainstream thought, orthodoxy.The latest polling figures show that only 14% of Americans saw this country’s “defense” efforts (as they’re always called, despite those “forever wars” in distant lands) as too much and would like to see military spending lowered. Half of all Americans consider the U.S. defense posture “just right” and 35% would like more of the same (up from 25% last year). In January, a Gallup poll indicated that 74% of Americans were “very or somewhat satisfied with the nation’s military strength and preparedness” and, in that context, the military always has a sky-high positive image in polling here — and it only rose in pandemic year 2020.
You know that yellow “crime scene” tape the police use to keep curious bystanders at bay? Our government essentially uses “war scene” tape to keep the curious among us from fathoming what the military is doing across so much of the world. That “tape” most often involves the use of classification, with everything that might matter to us designated “secret” or “top secret” and not fit for our eyes to see. This cult of secrecy enables ignorance and reinforces indifference.
Anyone like a Chelsea Manning or a John Kiriakou who seeks to cut that tape and so let ordinary citizens examine any of our war crime scenes in all their ugliness is punished. You, John Q. Public, are not supposed to know of war crimes in Iraq. You, Jane Q. Public, are not supposed to know of CIA torture programs.