- - Friday, December 26, 2014

“It’s ending purposeless, perpetual, global warfare, stupid.”

Republican presidential contenders for 2016 should embrace that campaign theme to demolish the ultra-hawkish Hillary Clinton and her Napoleonic complex.

Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign theme, “It’s the economy, stupid,” is obsolete.

Presidential strategists sermonize that voters are instinctively concerned more about jobs, mortgages, and health care than about national security policy.  True enough.

But that is because presidential aspirants have failed to discern and to explain the direct connection between, on the one hand, purposeless, perpetual, global warfare and the projection of military force everywhere that has created an exorbitant, inefficient, and corrupt national security state in pursuit of a risk-free existence, and, on the other hand, enormous budget deficits, a sluggish economy, a crippling of civil liberties, too big to fail banks, chronic constitutional transgressions, secret government, and limitless executive power.

Once voters are taught that the purposeless, perpetual, global warfare state is responsible for 90 percent of what ails the nation (including an effete risk-free mentality), they will chorus the campaign theme with gusto. 

At present, the United States is implicated in warfare involving Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Niger, and Ethiopia.  We are “pivoting” forces to Asia to defend, among other things, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines from maritime encroachments by China.

We have military personnel in approximately 130 countries stationed at approximately 900 overseas bases. We maintain this vast military edifice and a supporting military-industrial-counterterroism complex despite the absence of a single existential threat to our sovereignty. In the history of the world, no nation has ever been safer from foreign aggression than the United States.

Our purposeless, perpetual, global warfare state costs over $1 trillion annually to maintain. The sum includes a fixed Defense Department amount, war expenses, nuclear weapons, the Veterans Administration, military pensions, the Department of Homeland Security, the intelligence community, and interest on the national debt attributable to past government borrowing to fight wars.

According to Pentagon experts, two-thirds of Defense Department spending is wasted. The post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have yet to conclude will cost up to $6 trillion, or more than one-third of the national debt.

Purposeless, perpetual, global warfare spending causes enormous budget deficits, which shrinks the supply of funds to support the private sector and job creation. The spending subsidizes inefficient, bloated defense contractors who typically confront little or no competition and routinely construct unnecessary weapons. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates once asked: “Does America need 11 plus super carriers when our competitors don’t have one?” All 10 nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carriers were built by Newport News Shipbuilding Co. in Virginia. 

The risk-free mentality that fuels purposeless, perpetual, global warfare has predictably given birth to a “Too Big to Fail” defense contractor syndrome. The Defense Department cannot afford to permit certain contractors to fail because there would be no back-up suppliers. Thus, Lockheed Aircraft was bailed out with the Emergency Loan Guarantee Act of 1971. Legendary Adm. Hyman Rickover lamented: “We have been generating a new philosophy where we privatize profits and socialize losses.”

The “Too Big to Fail” defense contractor syndrome created the risk-free foundation for the first cousin “Too Big to Fail” bank syndrome.  It was born during the waning months of the Bush administration with the Troubled Asset Relief Program showering trillions of dollars on mismanaged banks or sister financial institutions.

Civil liberties have been a casualty of the risk-free ethos that justifies permanent, purposeless warfare. The National Security Agency collects and maintains data on every American without a judicial warrant or probable cause contrary to the 14th Amendment right to be let alone. They dragnet spying is done to diminish the already miniscule risk of an international terrorist attack in the United States. It persists even though it has failed to foil even one terrorist plot in the United States during its eight-year life.

The President exterminates Americans based on secret evidence that he concludes implicates them in imminent international terrorism. Torture is perpetrated against suspected Al Qaeda detainees with impunity. A state secrets privilege is routinely invoked to block judicial redress for government crimes, including kidnapping, torture or extrajudicial killings.

The president operates secret government shielded from congressional oversight or accountability resting on the risk-free philosophy that feeds purposeless, perpetual, global warfare.

There would be nothing risky, however, in ending the permanent warfare state. It would return the United States to the foreign policy of President George Washington expounded in his Farewell Address and followed until the post-World War II birth of the American Empire.

In sum, ending purposeless, perpetual global warfare should be made the battleground for the 2016 presidential election.

For more information about Bruce Fein, visit brucefeinlaw.

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