Posts Tagged ‘Antiwar’

Going “abroad in search of monsters to destroy” is making more monsters

Posted on August 11, 2014 at 10.26 am

America is constantly abroad, constantly seeking monsters to destroy—monsters which, like the hydra of mythology or Marvel, only seem to multiply as we launch war after endless war.

As much as we may want to say, “America is coming to help,” it’s never that clear-cut, and innocent civilians too often pay the price.

As ISIS commits atrocity after atrocity, it is easy to wonder if this tragedy might have been prevented had the 2003 invasion of Iraq never occurred—if we’d listen to the wisdom of Founding Fathers like Adams…and Washington, and Franklin, and Jefferson, and Madison, and more.

Adams’ explanation of the dangers of foreign intervention is now writ large in the violence in Iraq and the suppression of civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism here at home:

[America] well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself, beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.

The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. The frontlet upon her brows would no longer beam with the ineffable splendor of freedom and independence; but in its stead would soon be substituted an imperial diadem, flashing in false and tarnished lustre the murky radiance of dominion and power.

She might become the dictatress of the world: she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.

For more than a decade, bipartisan U.S. foreign policy has been marked by fighting for causes that are not our own—and mired “beyond the power of extrication” in the inevitable mess which ensues.

The basic posture of our government toward our citizens has changed from liberty to force, as anyone with knowledge of the National Security Agency alone well knows.

And rather than standing as a beacon of hope and liberty for the world, American foreign policy has too often become one of failed and bloody micromanagement, a bull in the china shop that is the Middle East.

I don’t know how to “fix” Iraq. But I do know that what we’re doing—what we’ve been doing for more than decade now—isn’t working.

Maybe we could start over with the advice of John Quincy Adams, and once again make our motto “Freedom, Independence, Peace.”

Read the whole thing here.

War is just one more big government program

Posted on July 7, 2014 at 2.16 pm

My latest at Rare makes a fiscal case for cutting back the warfare state:

Consider the following:

  • What if I told you there’s a government program which will cost taxpayers more than Obamacare will over the next ten years?
  • What if that program was just one function of a sprawling government agency which has not been audited in two decades?
  • What if that agency was the third-largest contributor to our $17 trillion national debt, which breaks down to $55,000 per citizen?

What if the same agency wasted tens of billions of dollars annually on projects and goods unrelated to its mission? (Like a study on “whether men holding pistols are viewed as taller, stronger and more masculine than those wielding objects such as saws, paint brushes and caulking guns.” Or “a conference that included a session titled ‘Did Jesus Die for Klingons too?’” Or “research on what the behavior of fish can teach us about democracy.”)

  • What if it also regularly paid hundreds of times the market value for commonplace items?
  • And squandered billions more on outdated equipment which just doesn’t work?
  • And prioritized cuts in vital programs rather than big-budget flops?
  • And lost hundreds of millions to waste and corruption in foreign programs?
  • And destroyed valuable equipment rather than repurposing it?
  • And blew big bucks on cross-promotions with superhero movies?
  • And gave high-dollar contracts to companies known to engage in fraud—contracts totaling more than $1 trillion in the last ten years?
  • And built buildings which will never be occupied?
  • And reported to Congress that it simply couldn’t account for $1 trillion (yes, trillion) it had spent?
  • And yet it still plans to spend the equivalent of the entire GDP of Sweden on a single purchase over the course of the next fifteen years?

What if this agency regularly and intentionally doctored the books to hide these wasteful practices from taxpayers?

For any fiscal conservative, the conclusion must be that this incredibly wasteful, deceptive, and nonproductive government agency is seriously overdue for audits, possibly criminal charges, and huge—massive—ginormous spending cuts. Right?

Right.

That program was the War in Iraq. That agency is the Department of Defense. That spending is war spending. And the DoD does indeed waste absurd amounts of money on unrelated projectsgaloreincredibly overpriced purchasesobsolete weaponrypoor prioritizationnation-building projectsdestroying equipmentpromoting the recent Superman flickfraudulent contractorsempty buildingsunaccountable spending, and planes that cost as much as Sweden’s GDP. The DoD has been caught doctoring the books on a grand scale.

Yes, war really is just one more big government program: It’s costly. It’s wasteful. It’s poorly managed and rife with incompetence and fraud.

Read the whole thing here.

Soldiers & veterans say: Support us by ending the wars

Posted on May 27, 2014 at 12.31 pm

This week’s article, timed for Memorial Day, is about how much better this holiday would be if war were just a memory. “Support the troops” often gets thrown around as a meaningless catchphrase of thoughtless patriotism, but it’s worth noting that—according to many actual troops—supporting them means ending the wars.

“The hardest thing for me in Vietnam wasn’t seeing the wounded and dead,” said Johnny Cash after he visited soldiers in the late 1960s. “It was watching the big transport jets come in, bringing loads of fresh new boys for the war.”

The Man in Black’s comment captured a truth that couldn’t be overstated on Memorial Day: The best way to honor those who have died is to ensure that less deaths will follow them.

It is time America ends more than a decade of being at war.

It’s easy to pay lip service to supporting the troops. Politicians have this down pat, don’t they? Anyone running for any office, anywhere in America, can talk endlessly about how much they love the troops, yet the foreign policy positions they support often tell a very different story.

John Quincy Adams proposed that, “America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.” His vision for a non-interventionist foreign policy has not just been ignored; it’s been demolished. With anywhere from 660 to 900+ bases worldwide, our government today is constantly sending our military on monster hunts that are secretiveexpensiveendlessillegalimmoral and counter-productive.

Americans have had enough. Iraq is now viewed as a mistake by a majority and our long war in Afghanistan grows more unpopular by the day. Our war-weary country isn’t interested in intervening in places like LibyaSyriaIran, and Ukraine. On a broader scale, record numbers of Americans want our government to stop using our military to police the world.

More Americans than ever recognize that sending a new generation to fight and die in yet another unnecessary and ill-advised wars doesn’t support the troops or honor their memory.

Read the whole thing here.