By Chris Hedges
May 02, 2023:
Clearing House -- "ScheerPost"
-- America is a stratocracy,
a form of government dominated by the military. It is axiomatic among the two
ruling parties that there must be a constant preparation for war. The war
machine’s massive budgets are sacrosanct. Its billions of dollars in waste
and fraud are ignored. Its military fiascos in Southeast Asia, Central Asia
and the Middle East have disappeared into the vast cavern of historical amnesia.
This amnesia, which means there is never accountability, licenses the war
machine to economically disembowel the country and drive the Empire into one
self-defeating conflict after another. The militarists win every election. They
cannot lose. It is impossible to vote against them. The war state is a Götterdämmerung,
as Dwight Macdonald writes, “without the gods.”
Since the end of the Second World War, the federal government has spent more
than half its tax dollars on past, current and future military operations. It is
the largest single sustaining activity of the government. Military systems are
sold before they are produced with guarantees that huge cost overruns will be
covered. Foreign aid is contingent on buying U.S. weapons. Egypt, which receives
some $1.3 billion in foreign military financing, is required to
devote it to buying and maintaining U.S. weapons systems. Israel has received $158
billion in bilateral assistance from the U.S. since 1949, almost all of it since
1971 in the form of military aid, with most of it going towards arms purchases
from U.S. weapons manufacturers. The American public funds the research,
development and building of weapons systems and then buys these same weapons
systems on behalf of foreign governments. It is a circular system of corporate
Between October 2021 and September 2022, the U.S. spent $877
billion on the military, that’s more than the next 10 countries, including
China, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom combined. These huge
military expenditures, along with the rising costs of a for-profit healthcare
system, have driven the
U.S. national debt to over $31 trillion, nearly $5
trillion more than the U.S.’s entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This
imbalance is not sustainable, especially once the dollar is no
longer the world’s reserve currency. As of January 2023, the U.S. spent a
record $213 billion servicing the interest on its national debt.
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The public, bombarded with war propaganda, cheers on their self-immolation. It
revels in the despicable beauty of our military prowess. It speaks in the
thought-terminating clichés spewed out by mass culture and mass media. It
imbibes the illusion of omnipotence and wallows in self-adulation.
The intoxication of war is a plague. It imparts an emotional high that is
impervious to logic, reason or fact. No nation is immune. The gravest mistake
made by European socialists on the eve of the First World War was the belief
that the working classes of France, Germany, Italy, the Austro-Hungarian Empire,
Russia and Great Britain would not be divided into antagonistic tribes because
of disputes between imperialist governments. They would not, the socialists
assured themselves, sign on for the suicidal slaughter of millions of working
men in the trenches. Instead, nearly every socialist leader walked away from
their anti-war platform to back their nation’s entry into the war. The handful
who did not, such as Rosa
Luxemburg, were sent to prison.
A society dominated by militarists distorts its social, cultural, economic
and political institutions to serve the interests of the war industry. The
essence of the military is masked with subterfuges — using
the military to carry
out humanitarian relief missions, evacuating civilians in danger, as we
see in the Sudan, defining military aggression as “humanitarian
intervention” or a way to protect democracy and liberty, or lauding the military
as carrying out a vital civic function by teaching leadership, responsibility,
ethics and skills to young recruits. The true face of the military — industrial
slaughter — is hidden.
The mantra of the militarized state is national security. If every discussion
begins with a question of national security, every answer includes force or the
threat of force. The preoccupation with internal and external threats divides
the world into friend and foe, good and evil. Militarized societies are fertile
ground for demagogues. Militarists, like demagogues, see other nations and
cultures in their own image – threatening and aggressive. They seek only
It was not in our national interest to wage war for two decades across the
Middle East. It is not in our national interest to go to war with Russia or
China. But militarists need
war the way a vampire needs blood.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev and later Vladimir
Putin lobbied to be integrated into western economic and
military alliances. An alliance that included Russia would have nullified the
calls to expand NATO — which the U.S. had promised it
would not do beyond the borders of a unified Germany — and have made it
impossible to convince countries in eastern and central Europe to spend billions
on U.S. military hardware. Moscow’s requests were rebuffed. Russia was made the
enemy, whether it wanted to be or not. None of this made us more secure.
Washington’s decision to interfere in Ukraine’s
domestic affairs by backing a
coup in 2014 triggered a civil war and Russia’s subsequent invasion.
But for those who profit from war, antagonizing Russia, like antagonizing
China, is a good business model. Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin saw their
stock prices increase by
40 percent and 37 percent respectively as a result of the Ukraine conflict.
A war with China, now an industrial giant, would disrupt the
global supply chain with devastating effects on the U.S. and global economy.
Apple produces 90
percent of its products in China. U.S. trade with China was $690.6 billion last
year. In 2004, U.S. manufacturing output was more
than twice China’s. China’s output is now nearly
double that of the United States. China produces the largest number of ships, steel and smartphones in
the world. It dominates the global production of chemicals, metals, heavy
industrial equipment and electronics. It is the world’s largest rare earth
its greatest reserve holder and
is responsible for 80 percent of its refining worldwide.
Rare earth minerals are essential to
the manufacture of computer chips, smartphones, television screens, medical
equipment, fluorescent light bulbs, cars, wind turbines, smart bombs, fighter
jets and satellite communications.
War with China would result in massive shortages of a variety of goods and
resources, some vital to the war industry, paralyzing U.S. businesses. Inflation
and unemployment would rocket upwards. Rationing would be implemented. The
global stock exchanges, at least in the short term, would be shut down. It would
trigger a global depression. If the U.S. Navy was able to block oil shipments to
China and disrupt its sea lanes, the conflict could potentially become nuclear.
2030: Unified for a New Era,” the military alliance sees the future as a
battle for hegemony with rival states, especially China. It calls for the
preparation of prolonged global conflict. In October 2022, Air Force General
Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command, presented his
“Mobility Manifesto” to a packed military conference. During this unhinged
fearmongering diatribe, Minihan argued that if the U.S. does not dramatically
escalate its preparations for a war with China, America’s children will find
themselves “subservient to a rules based order that benefits only one country
to the New York Times, the Marine Corps is training units for beach
assaults, where the Pentagon believes the first battles with China may occur,
across “the first island chain” that includes, “Okinawa and Taiwan down to
Malaysia as well as the South China Sea and disputed islands in the Spratlys and
Militarists drain funds from social and infrastructure programs. They pour
money into research and development of weapons systems and neglect renewable
energy technologies. Bridges, roads, electrical grids and levees collapse.
Schools decay. Domestic manufacturing declines. The public is impoverished. The
harsh forms of control the militarists test and perfect abroad migrate back to
the homeland. Militarized Police. Militarized drones. Surveillance. Vast prison
complexes. Suspension of basic civil liberties. Censorship.
Those such as Julian
Assange, who challenge the stratocracy, who expose its crimes and suicidal
folly, are ruthlessly persecuted. But the war state harbors within it the seeds
of its own destruction. It will cannibalize the nation until it collapses.
Before then, it will lash out, like a blinded cyclops, seeking to restore its
diminishing power through indiscriminate violence. The tragedy is not that the
U.S. war state will self-destruct. The tragedy is that we will take down so many
innocents with us.
Chris Hedges, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central
America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than
50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public
Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a
foreign correspondent for 15 years.
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