It’s one thing to hear anti-war, anti-military or anti-government sentiments from the usual crowd. Those who pride themselves for being particularly supportive of the aforementioned can easily write them off. They are fools, traitors, whatever. But, when a retired USAF lieutenant colonel is critical of militaristic U.S. foreign policy, it would behoove us to listen.
William J. Astore writes often on this and related subjects, with articles gracing a number of websites, including his own. As the author or co-author of three books, his professional and academic CV includes teaching stints at the Air Force Academy, the Naval Postgraduate School and the Pennsylvania College of Technology.
The Riptide of American Militarism
Astore offers a lesson from a bit of a trip down memory lane. Commenting on Senator J. William Fulbright’s book, The Pentagon Propaganda Machine, he uses it as introduction to a look at the contemporary condition of our military.
Quoting from the book, he notes that Americans “have grown distressingly used to war.” Even more damning, “Violence is our most important product.” Bear in mind the book was published in 1970. Sadly, as true as these observations were then, they are even truer today.
“Congress, he complained (and this, too, should ring a distinct bell in 2019), was shoveling money at the Pentagon ‘with virtually no questions asked,’ while costly weapons systems were seen mainly ‘as a means of prosperity,’ especially for the weapons makers of the military-industrial complex. ‘Militarism has been creeping up on us,’ he warned, and the American public, conditioned by endless crises and warnings of war, had grown numb, leaving ‘few, other than the young, [to] protest against what is happening.'”
Astore notes that the details have changed but the basics haven’t. Rather than fighting communism, the bogeyman of the day, it is now terrorism. Weaponry is more devastating than ever, not to mention more expensive (billions rather than millions). We may be in different countries but it seems to make little difference.
Nevertheless, “over the last 50 years, the most fundamental things have remained remarkably consistent: militarism, violence, the endless feeding of the military-industrial complex, the growth of the national security state, and wars, ever more wars, always purportedly waged in the name of peace.”Over the last 50 years, the most fundamental things have remained remarkably consistent: militarism, violence, the endless feeding of the military-industrial complex, the growth of the national security state, and ever more wars... Click To Tweet
A Cowbird, not an Eagle
Further insight to the plight we face as the military-industrial apparatus continues to chew up our resources and our freedom comes from nature. Unlike the symbolic eagle which inspires the nationalistic ego, he likens the Pentagon and its ilk to the cowbird, known for its parasitic nature. The description seems apt.
“Think of that greedy cowbird as the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex in which it’s enmeshed. And we American taxpayers, through our bought-and-paid-for representatives in Congress, are those misguided yellow warblers, continually feeding the equivalent of our very own cowbird chick, now grown to tremendous size and still crying out for more. What we’re feeding it, of course, is the very promise of America, as it starves our real chicks, precious funding for education, infrastructure, the environment, and health care.”
There’s more good stuff, including another lesson from the sea. Check it out at Drowning in Militarism.