Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
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:
October 18, 2018
Erik Molvar
The Ten Big Lies of Traditional Western Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lockheed and Loaded: How the Maker of Junk Fighters Like the F-22 and F-35 Came to Have Full-Spectrum Dominance Over the Defense Industry
Lawrence Davidson
Israel’s “Psychological Obstacles to Peace”
Brian Platt – Brynn Roth
Black-Eyed Kids and Other Nightmares From the Suburbs
John W. Whitehead
You Want to Make America Great Again? Start by Making America Free Again
Zhivko Illeieff
Why Can’t the Democrats Reach the Millennials?
Steve Kelly
Quiet, Please! The Latest Threat to the Big Wild
Manuel García, Jr.
The Inner Dimensions of Socialist Revolution
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ Over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Adam Parsons
A Global People’s Bailout for the Coming Crash
Binoy Kampmark
The Tyranny of Fashion: Shredding Banksy
Dean Baker
How Big is Big? Trump, the NYT and Foreign Aid
Vern Loomis
The Boofing of America
October 17, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
When Saudi Arabia’s Credibility is Damaged, So is America’s
John Steppling
Before the Law
Frank Stricker
Wages Rising? 
James McEnteer
Larry Summers Trips Out
Muhammad Othman
What You Can Do About the Saudi Atrocities in Yemen
Binoy Kampmark
Agents of Chaos: Trump, the Federal Reserve and Andrew Jackson
David N. Smith
George Orwell’s Message in a Bottle
Karen J. Greenberg
Justice Derailed: From Gitmo to Kavanaugh
John Feffer
Why is the Radical Right Still Winning?
Dan Corjescu
Green Tsunami in Bavaria?
Rohullah Naderi
Why Afghan Girls Are Out of School?
George Ochenski
You Have to Give Respect to Get Any, Mr. Trump
Cesar Chelala
Is China Winning the War for Africa?
Mel Gurtov
Getting Away with Murder
W. T. Whitney
Colombian Lawyer Diego Martinez Needs Solidarity Now
Dean Baker
Nothing to Brag About: Scott Walker’s Economic Record in Wisconsin:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail