Some mornings I awake with a deep sense of guilt. The lives of people I have never met are being torn apart by war, their homes bombed, their families separated and many of them killed. Each day the question for them isn’t what movie to see or book to read. The question is how to survive.
What separates my good fortune for their bad one isn’t a consequence of my having lived a meritorious life. It depends upon happenstance. I live in the United States.
I could accept that fact and count my blessing if it weren’t for my concern that I and my fellow countrymen are, in part, the cause of so much suffering. Have we, in fact, become too accustomed to being a nation at war?
In 1979 we gave up our citizen army in favor of professionals, many of them private contractors. With the shadow of conscription removed, have we created a disconnect between our daily lives and foreign policy? If so, what is the consequence of that disconnect?
In his farewell address to the nation, President Dwight Eisenhower, a military man by profession, warned us to beware of the industrial/military complex. We should have listened. Instead, that complex has grown. According to William Pfaff, author of several books on American foreign policy, our “military command and Pentagon bureaucracy are integrally linked to the aerospace and defense industries –and this partnership exerts a huge influence in the political arena, most notably in Congress.” (“Armed And Dangerous,” by William Pfaff, Harper’s Magazine, August 2014, pg. 59.) One could almost say that the industrial/military complex has become a 4th arm of government, he observes.
What should concern every American is that this “arm” of government answers directly the Oval office and secondarily to the Congress. When George W. Bush unilaterally instituted a policy of “preemptive strikes” where no overt provocation exists, that was a disturbing departure from the past. Worse, President Obama has built upon that authority and claims the “prerogative of killing whomever the United States deems a terrorist, without due process or public consultation” — a prerogative that may be turned against U. S. citizens. (Ibid pg 59.)
For our country’s latest position on war and peace I refer my readers to: http://greenshadowcabinet.us/statements/us-continues-block-chinese-russian-proposal-ban-weapons-space
I’m finding it harder to accept the self-image we have created for ourselves that we are “good folks” striving to defend world peace when, in fact, we are the most heavily armed nation in the world with an economy that profits from the sale of arms to other nations. Do our arsenals that overflow with advanced weaponry inspire trust or do they encourage other countries to fear us and to arm as well? How safe do we need to be? That is the overwhelming question.