Holy Shit! It turns out I may be a freaking conservative after all. The person responsible for driving this home was Tom Engelhardt . He made a point about the founding fathers that popped my bubble.
Now the founding fathers were deeply flawed. They were slaveholders, landed gentry and large commercial interests. They created a republic grounded in limited suffrage and the gradual genocide against the Native Americans whose land they coveted.
However, they did get a few things right, like the Bill or Rights and the mindset Engelhardt mentions: a deep-seated suspicion of standing armies. How right they were on that one.
If power corrupts, then militarism is the catalyst that speeds up the reaction. War is a perversion of all that is decent; it is a dry rot that decays and undermines a society until it collapses in a cloud of dust. The world is peppered with the ruins of militarized societies that thought their power was eternal.
What is so corrupting about a militarized society is that its success depends on maintaining the emotional makeup of an arrested adolescent. Maturity and militarism are mutually exclusive.
And we are a militarized society. Engelhardt cites the example of a twenty-year-old private who was killed in Afghanistan. He notes:
[H]e was probably born not long before the First Gulf War…If you include that war, which never really ended—low-level U.S. military actions against Saddam Hussein’s regime continued until the invasion of 2003—as well as U.S. actions in the former Yugoslavia and Somalia, not to speak of the steady warfare underway since November 2001, in his short life, there was hardly a moment in which the U.S. wasn’t engaged in military operations somewhere on the planet.
This militarization is so pervasive we have become numb to it. It’s a way of life, as American as mom and apple pie. We do war because we can and because no man can resist playing with a new toy. Give a man a $1,600 fly rod and, even if he’s never fished in his life, you’ll find him waist-deep in an ice-cold stream trying to untangle his line from the nearest tree. It’s the same with a new weapon system. Shit! We just gotta take it out for a test drive! It’s all part of that adolescent mentality that lives for the adrenalin high of sending our young out to die.
Most militarized societies end up in bankruptcy court, and we certainly have one foot in the door. However, we could well be the first militarized society to simply run out of oil.
No matter how big a work party you have, you still can’t push a Bradley Fighting Vehicle into combat.