FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Blind Faith in American Militarism

Blind faith, adhering to a proposition with no reasonable justification of its truth, is more dangerous for politicians than it is for religionists.

True believers may acknowledge their blind faith in religious dogma, while foreign policy wonks seldom acknowledge their blind faith in political dogma. Yet many legislators and administrators—as well as columnists and academics—adhere to the dogma of “military supremacy,” which dominates U.S. foreign policy.

American tax payers, who have invested heavily in that dogma, may have serious questions about whether it works. The evidence?

“The chief lesson to emerge from the battlefields” since 9/11: “the Pentagon possesses next to no ability to translate military supremacy into meaningful victory,” according to Andrew Bacevich.” As a retired colonel, now teaching at Boston University, Professor Bacevich speaks with some authority.

For several decades, blind faith in military supremacy is responsible for a waste of lives and vast resources, resulting in an unprecedented, annual military budget that exceeds all other military budgets combined: $700 billion That’s enough money to feed, clothe, educate, and provide health care for every person in the world for several years, according to the UN Development Office.

How often must that comparison be acknowledged before it results in serious debate about U.S. foreign policy? How long will it take for the President and Congress to acknowledge that these wasted resources are an essential cause of our present economic recession?

So get ready for more hocus-pocus from lobbyists for sustaining this unprecedented military outlay when Congress debates the possibility of reducing it. We’ll hear variations on a Republican senator’s saying that he would never approve any reduction in military spending that might increase the vulnerability of our troops. If Congress were so concerned about the vulnerability of our troops, why does it keep sending them into wars—Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan—that ended in either defeat or stalemates?

What have any of these misadventures—and many other secret and public interventions—to do with “security”? As the Vice-Chancellor of a major university in India told me, America’s security in recent decades has come to be based on alliances with some of the world’s most authoritarian rulers. It’s “security” purchased at the expense of victims of harsh dictatorships in Indonesia, Central America, Pakistan, over the past several decades.

Not surprising, people risking their lives for democracy (most recently in Egypt) are critical, sometimes vehemently so, of our foreign policy.

For fear of being accused of “America bashing,” perhaps one must acknowledge that many people in the world admire the U.S. for its achievements in governance. Increasingly, however, young people risking their lives to resist tyrants abroad, particularly in the Middle East, view the U.S. with suspicion. Too many Americans dismiss these critics, rather than ask why our good name is tarnished among people desperate to claim their rights as citizens.

So what must be done? Ample evidence from recent history suggests that violence is not the only route to social change. And our foreign policy of risky interventions, CIA subversion, drone deaths of innocent citizens, has undermined rather than encouraged the building a global civic culture.

Again and again, nations have demonstrated that democratic governance must be built from within, not imposed by a dominating power from without. Change takes place when citizens demand it through a host of nonviolent methods and strategies, perhaps the only effective means of achieving it.

In recent years, we have witnessed dramatic change through nonviolent means even among people under despotic governments—in the Philippines, Poland, and elsewhere in Eastern Europe and Latin America. In his brilliant research and scholarship on nonviolent theory and strategy since 1971, Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution have documented and evaluated these movements—pointing out what works and what does not work and why in particular contexts. That thoughtful, readable commentary is available free on the internet at www.aeinstein.org

In addition to the successful nonviolent campaigns of the past twenty years, with ordinary people bringing down dictators or resisting foreign domination, there have been accomplishments within the U.S. itself, as well. The twenty year campaign to close the School of Americas, Ft. Benning, Georgia, through legislative and direct action, is a model for such initiatives. Father Roy Bourgeois and SOA Watch first exposed SOA’s training of Latin American recruits in torture, then convinced several of their governments not to send officers for military training at Ft. Benning.

Enamored by guns at home, Americans tolerate our government’s reliance on the threat or use of weapons of mass destruction. As a foreign policy, it resembles the “corporate security” dramatized in the film, Social Network. Among people embracing a domination system, the essential ingredients of a humane culture—art, morality, social justice, family life—are minimized or irrelevant. In that film, as in our lives, topdown management, like military supremacy, functions as a religious faith.

Isn’t it obvious, in light of the consequences, that blind faith in military supremacy is misplaced? As a foreign policy, it simply doesn’t work. “Washington knows how to start wars and how to prolong them,” as Professor Bacevich concludes, “but is clueless when it comes to ending them.”

MICHAEL TRUE, Emeritus Professor, Assumption College, lives in Worcester, Massachusetts.

 

More articles by:
August 16, 2018
Eric Toussaint
Nicaragua: The Evolution of the Government of President Daniel Ortega Since 2007 
Adolf Alzuphar
Days of Sagebrush, Nights of Jasmine in LA
Robert J. Burrowes
A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival
August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omarosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
Fred Gardner
Exploiting Styron’s Ghost
Dean Baker
Fact-Checking the Fact-Checker on Medicare-for-All
Weekend Edition
August 10, 2018
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Militarizing Space: Starship Troopers, Same As It Ever Was
Andrew Levine
No Attack on Iran, Yet
Melvin Goodman
The CIA’s Double Standard Revisited
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Grifter’s Lament
Aidan O'Brien
In Italy, There are 12,000 American Soldiers and 500,000 African Refugees: Connect the Dots 
Robert Fantina
Pity the Democrats and Republicans
Ishmael Reed
Am I More Nordic Than Members of the Alt Right?
Kristine Mattis
Dying of Consumption While Guzzling Snake Oil: a Realist’s Perspective on the Environmental Crisis
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail