Food for thought on the eve of 9/11

In a thread on Wednesday some of us were discussing empire and the cost of  the U.S. military. Commenter D.I.D. offered some valuable insight into how it got to where it is. It’s a good read and I hoped to post it in its entirely here on the front page but on second thought, I can see it’s too long to put it in this post. (Here’s a direct link to his full comment.) Perhaps before reading further you might want to take a look at this portion of President Dwight Eishenhower’s famous speech where he addressed the danger of the emerging ‘military industrial complex’. 

Below are some excerpts from D.I.D.’s post on the subject. I don’t agree with everything my blogfriend says here, but he makes a very good case about how the culture of and reason for the present military-corporate complex became less about national defense and more about corporate defense. They needed a continuing American empire to maintain themselves.  (D.I.D. also makes a good case for the geopolitical need to have a strong military in the 20th century.

Here’s D.I.D.:

“. . .  from approximately 1945-1991, America led the Western world in a primarily defensive struggle, but, realizing that it could not wage a defensive war forever, also made moves for the collapse of Communism. It was during this period that the global military-industrial empire was built. High military spending was the order of the day, as was the increasing entanglement between the government and numerous corporate interests. The most important corporate interests in that age of hostilities were the defense and weapons industries, as well as the industries controlling strategic resources for the production and use of weapons (e.g., oil).

To me, all of this was legitimate and wholesome for that period, but the American Empire is not wholesome for today. To me, the story of the “Evil American-Corporate” Empire begins with the fall of the Soviet Union

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the greatest threat to the Western ways of life died with it. Given this, it was assumed that the noble ideas expressed nearly half a century before could be realised, where different nations and their ideologies could coexist peacefully. All of those far-flung military installations of the USA government where no longer necessary for national defense, as there was no major threat to the American way of life. NATO (and to a lesser extent NORAD) had lost its raison d’être with the collapse of its main antagonist.

By all that is right and reasonable, the USA should have slowly lowered its military budget and withdrawn from areas of the world where there is little or no critical American interests, as did most other Western nations. Unfortunately, corporate groups  . . .pressured the US government to maintain a presence there to maintain their interests. (In addition, many conservatives these days seem to tout “American Exceptionalism” and “spreading liberty to the oppressed” to a level that is eerily reminiscent of “Master Race” and “the White Man’s Burden”). 

 Thus began [today’s] American Empire, an entity forged out of an evil necessity that evolved to deny fundamental American principles. “

7 responses to “Food for thought on the eve of 9/11

  1. Six years ago, I would have thought this post was nuts.

    But after, watching us humiliate ourselves by kicking in the door in Iraq in search of WMD that weren’t there or to establish democracy that is at best touch and go to take root, it seems spot on.

    I had never voted for a Democratic candidate for President till 2008. (In 2004, I voted for Bush but really hoped he would lose. I’ll try to explain why later if anyone asks.) In 2008 I couldn’t vote for McCain who I saw as having leaned nothing about the danger of militery adventures from Iraq, and I voted for Obama most because he was right about Iraq from the start.

    I’m still skeptical of the ability of the government to solve social ills, of which I know there are many. In a lot of way I’m kind of a Ron Paul Republican now.

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    • Ron Paul Republican is cool – Rand Paul Republican is not. I sometimes wonder what Ron thinks of his son – Ron is a very modern and realistic guy, his son not so much. And I remember wondering what George HW thought of W. Certainly the Bush 41 kitchen cabinet spoke out about W’s misadventures abroad and I’m sure htey wouldn’t have dreamt of doing that unless 41 was okay with it.

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    • [ I’ll try to explain why later if anyone asks]

      By the way, I’m asking . . .

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  2. Wow.. he’s so crystal clear in the analysis.. And coming from a General and President – even more so. We might tend to forget that “spending” is “income” on the other end.. US totals some 55% of combined WORLD expenses on military “defense”.. talk about “grave implications” and “disastrous rice of misplaced power”..

    But good thing Sec. Robert Gates is carrying Ike’s torch high..

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    • I like Gates, liked him when Bush appointed him. But then, just being not-Rumsfeld was enough to hold him in high esteem. What I most like about him is it’s not about him, it’s about the job.

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  3. I voted for Bush, hoping he would lose but by a narrow margin.

    I think when bad things happen you should always learn and try to do better next time.

    September 11, was something to learn from, and I thought we should be more vigorous in dealing with terrorism. Bush certainly tried, though I think his execution was careless and sloppy.

    His decision to go into Iraq was not well considered and disasterous, both in choosing to go in and what we did afterwards.

    It seemed like Kerry was pushing a I’ll still protect America, but be more cautious and competent about it. That could have conformed with my keep learning adjusting idea.

    My concern was that Bush was certainly going to lose, perhaps by a lot.

    My fear was this would be seen as a vote to go back to 9/10/2001, and Kerry’s tough talk would be just that, talk. I thought that was a mistake.

    I thought I’d use my one vote to make Bush’s defeat smaller. I hoped Kerry would win, and continue the fight against terror but in a more competent cautious way, not just throw the fight against terror away.

    It was oh s*** time when he actually won. Pretty silly I guess.

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    • When Gore lost in 2000, I was deeply disappointed but held no animus at all toward George Bush. I guess I assumed he’d be his father which would have been just fine with me. He didn’t impress me greatly, but life went on.

      I was with him all the way to 2002 when the Iraq war drums began. And when the vulgarly named ‘Shock and Awe’ was launched in Baghdad, he and his administration lost me entirely. I became actively anti-Bush from that point on. And I will always hold him in contempt.

      Terrorism is real. War doesn’t stop it.

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