If there’s one legitimate role for the federal government, it’s national defense. But that raises the question: what constitutes a national defense? Moreover what constitutes a sound national defense. While defense is vital to our existence, military interventionism is usually unproductive, unreasonable, and un-American.
Military interventionism is unproductive because, not only does it not work to help keep us secure but it actually works against that goal. The CIA has identified the phenomenon of blowback in which unintended consequences of covert operations are suffered by the aggressor—in this case the US.
Over the last 60 years since WWII, the US government has consistently tried to pick winners and losers in foreign disputes and often times our interventionism often comes back to bite us in the rear. When we pick a side and fund or arm them, there’s no guarantee that they will remain loyal and in fact the opposite is true. Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Gaddafi all received military support from the US before they became US enemies. It has also come to light that the Benghazi terror attack leading to the death of four Americans was a direct result of the US government funneling $500 million in weapons to al Qaida militants the previous year.
Military interventionism is also unreasonable.
We can’t just say that we need to defend ourselves so we must write a blank check to the military and let it do whatever it wants.
The US spends trillions of dollars defending countries that are perfectly capable of defending themselves like Korea, Japan, and our NATO allies. We spend $2300 per person a year on our military (5% of GDP), whereas Korea only spends $581/person per year (2.5%). Japan only spends 1% GDP on military/ NATO on average only 1.5%. These are wealthy countries. We shouldn’t be paying for their defense.
I find it peculiar that people who say that the government is susceptible to waste and corruption think that when the end goal is military in nature that all that waste and corruption go away.
And the hawks will assert that they want all this military interventionism all for the sake of freedom. Well, that convoluted logic may make sense to the Nobel Committee who awarded war criminal Barack Obama the Nobel Peace prize, but it doesn’t make sense to the rest of us. In fact it reminds me of Orwell’s ominous dystopian slogan, “War is peace; freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength.” It’s completely unreasonable.
Finally, military interventionism is un-American.
There was no standing U.S. Army in 1776. Instead we had several militias in the various states with no standardization between them and no centralized authority. They banded together under George Washington to create the Continental Army and defeated the greatest military power on Earth at the time to gain independence.
That was the Founders’ system—the American model—to have state militias (National Guard) mobilized to create an army when needed for major conflict then demobilized after the conflict. In fact, this system was emblazoned into the Constitution, which gave Congress the authority “To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years.”
This system was implemented because the Founders knew what James Madison said: That The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.
After WWII, that exact situation happened. The standing army after WWII was double the size it was before and the hold it had on the power structure of the US led President Eisenhower to warn: “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
The result has been constant wars and interventions since—interventions that are unproductive, unreasonable, and un-American!