Those who care wonder how the United States ended up as a militarized security state. Logic dictates that as soon as the Soviet Union fell, the rationale for our bloated defense establishment was no more and we should have seen a massive demobilization, especially in the wake of the Vietnam debacle. But instead, our military has spread like a cancerous growth across the face of the earth.
This growth has not caused much of a ripple because the Pentagon has, in effect, gone underground with its all-volunteer army and private contractors. Without mandatory military service funneling young men into the military, the military does not cause as much of a stir on Main Street as it once did, nor do unpopular and unnecessary wars generate the same level of passion and protest as Vietnam.
Many reasons have be put forth to explain this, and all of them contain an element of truth. However, there is one factor that has been overlooked.
A bloated military establishment is a product of prosperity. As long as I have a good paying job and the benefits I feel entitled to are not touched I will tolerate such an establishment, especially since our colonial wars carry all the impact of a video game.
But, what will happen with the money begins to dry up, when states face bankruptcy and services are cut?
What happens when jobs and homes are lost?
What happens when our military-industrial complex is finally recognized for what it is: an expensive bauble we can no longer afford?
What happens when the public finally realizes that the Pentagon is little more than the world’s largest pork barrel?
Is it possible that the public will finally ask why in the hell we are spending $57,000 a minute on Afghanistan when schools are being shuttered and the ranks of the unemployed swell?
Of course, it’s a sad commentary on our society that when the public finally turns against the military it will be for economic reasons. It never occurs to anyone that the bombing of women and children just to keep our military-industrial complex solvent is morally abhorrent.
But then, if you give a boy a toy he just has to play with it.