Tuesday, August 03, 2010

How to Dismantle the American Empire Before This Country Goes Under

AlterNet, an excerpt from Andrew Bacevich's latest book:

Achieving these aims -- it is said -- requires the United States to funnel ever greater sums of money to the Pentagon to develop new means of projecting power, and to hold itself in readiness for new expeditions deemed essential to pacify (or liberate) some dark and troubled quarter of the globe.

At one level, we can with little difficulty calculate the cost of these efforts: The untold billions of dollars added annually to the national debt and the mounting toll of dead and wounded U.S. troops provide one gauge.

At a deeper level, the costs of adhering to the Washington consensus defy measurement: families shattered by loss; veterans bearing the physical or psychological scars of combat; the perpetuation of ponderous bureaucracies subsisting in a climate of secrecy, dissembling, and outright deception; the distortion of national priorities as the military-industrial complex siphons off scarce resources; environmental devastation produced as a by-product of war and the preparation for war; the evisceration of civic culture that results when a small praetorian guard shoulders the burden of waging perpetual war, while the great majority of citizens purport to revere its members, even as they ignore or profit from their service.


Bacevich is so extraordinarily correct. It's not a question of "support the troops" or "national security." Rather, it is a question of how taking the imperial road, that is, maintaining global military dominance, is affecting us at home. And it's not simply about dollars and deaths; it's also about our distinctive American culture: are we going to be the masters of the world are or we going to be free men?

A former colonel in the US Army, the West Point educated Bacevich is a self-described conservative, but with one major catch. His conservatism isn't in terms of slogans and demagoguery. As an academic, he deeply considers issues before making conclusions. He does not, for instance, support military action simply because we've got soldiers in the fight. He looks at the facts: is this really good for America?

Go read this excerpt, and if you like it, buy the book. I read his last one, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, a few months back, and it was excellent, very clear and concise, quick reading. If you're tired of all my liberal bullshit, check it out. It's what the GOP might sound like if it hadn't years ago descended into sanctimonious folk-malarkey.