Our Cost of Empire
One could easily suppose that there is not much our two major political parties can agree on lately. Indeed, here within the last few years we have seen our leaders reduce themselves to the like of quarreling children as if waiting for a parent to come and break it up but somehow none ever seems to materialize. Every other interview or blog in the news seems to contain at least one slanderous epithet thrown at someone across the aisle. There is however one thing that both sides seem to be in agreement on: We must continue pursuing global empire no matter the cost!
A Brief History
Any grade-school child could tell you that since World War II America has been a dominant world power but I think it is worth mentioning the seminal event in the middle of that war which lead directly to where we are now. In the spring of 1942 after deciphering most of the Japanese naval code the military knew an elaborate trap was being set for them in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The plan was designed to destroy the remainder of the U.S Pacific Fleet left after Pearl Harbor and would certainly include the bulk of the Japanese Navy. In preparation for the attack our military asked the British Royal Navy the lend of two of their aircraft carriers, which they flatly refused citing pressing need of their own in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean. We were forced to go it alone with just enough equipment to do the job. Few younger Americans now realize how close we would have come to capitulation had not we won what came to be known as the Battle of Midway. Can you imagine the lesson our Military Industrial Complex took from this near near disaster and how it has reverberated through our history till today? Never again would we be caught with our pants down! Never again would we be dependent upon the kindness of our allies.
A Mindset For War
For the last seventy years most Americans have accepted the need to be second to none when it comes to our national defense. There has however been from time to time ripples in this consistent militaristic attitude. Perhaps might does not make right in all cases as some brave Americans have tried to point out to us. The McCarthy era gave us pause as we witnessed an all powerful government accuse without proof a long list of Americans for what amounted to be thought crimes. The wrong thing said to the wrong people could have you summoned before the House Un-American Activities Commission. These people needed to be corrected as we realized that not all constitutional protection would apply evenly to all persons at all times. Few relevant convictions were made but that was not necessary to achieve the desired goal. Just the mention of a name would have sentenced the person to a lifetime of professional censure. Even Lucille Ball narrowly dodged censorship when it was discovered that she once was registered as a member of the Communist Party.
The next ripple occurred some thirteen years later during the Vietnam War. Something began happening that had not for at least a hundred years. Young people were gathering daily on the White House lawn and other places in protest, shouting the now famous line “Hey Hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today”! Something we now know troubled Johnson so badly that he asked FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to investigate for any secondary motivation. What had happened in the last half generation that changed our teenagers from happy occupants of malt shops content to spend all their attention speaking of hot rods to now directly confronting nearly all of American Executive power? What Hoover reported to the President was the fact that a good portion of the protesters and certainly the leaders there of were smoking marijuana and dropping acid, both known to be entheogens, natural substances that have the ability to create a spiritual connection to a higher power. Generally, once the initiate had experienced this spiritual connection they no longer wished to pursue the path of empire and certainly did not feel obligated to go kill strangers in Southeast Asia that had not done anything threatening to them or their country.
Within months of the protests LBJ formed a special committee which claimed drugs were responsible for 90% of crime in the USA. Mind you that at this time in 1967 there was little in the way of a drug problem in the United States. This was before speed, cocaine and heroin became common problems in later years. When Nixon declared War on Drugs and signed the 1970 Controlled Substances Act these substances and most entheogens were classified as schedule one drugs meaning that they were the most dangerous, addictive and least useful of all drugs even above meth, cocaine and heroine. We now know that this reasoning is completely false and is not even defended by anyone in the DEA. That is the law. Learn to deal with it. Now not only are these substance banned but the War on Drugs gives the empire the prerogative power to terrorize any one suspected of (or not) possessing them including your local doctor. It is this writer’s opinion, no progress toward legalization or even decriminalization of entheogens will gain any foothold until we are quite finished prosecuting global empire.
Dollars and Sense
When times were good for the U.S. economy we spent the most on national defense. From 1945 through 1970 we spent on average more than 50% of the national budget on war preparation, sometimes much more, in 1945 it was 88% of the budget. We now have military spending down to about the same levels as prior to WWII, but many now say the damage has been done. Was all that spending necessary and where would we be fiscally today if we had spent that money elsewhere or better yet saved it for future generations when it should have been foreseen that changing demographics and fortunes would lead to reduced tax revenue. It seems that empire has already taken it’s toll. Today health-care, welfare, and pensions account for 56% of the budget or roughly eight times what it did in 1940.
Thanks to the advent of nuclear weapons we now know that large countries or empires do not meet their demise on the battle field. Of the last four empires two of them, the Austro/Hungarian and the Ottoman ended in military defeat but the last two, the British and the Soviets ended because they went broke. Much like Nebuchadnezzar we can now see the hand writing on the wall and it’s message is no lessor a dire one. It seems we no longer have the production might to both tend to our citizens health and welfare while continuing to be the world’s police force. Had we been able to play empire the old fashioned way, that is stripping the vanquished of all there assets and enslaving the population perhaps it would have been different but I dare say we would have wound up being despised all the more in world opinion.
One thing is certain, we cannot continue to spend without an equal upsurge in tax revenue but thanks to Washington gridlock we are paralyzed on this issue. Some want to increase taxes and reduce spending but is it wise to do so in the middle of a major recession. Some demand no tax increases at all at a time when the top one percent have the lowest tax rates in the last one hundred years. I for one would call such a proposition a second Hoover recovery and would remind all that it did not work the first time. As long as the GOP and other defenders of the rich control any one branch of the government we are doomed to the fate of the last two great empires. At least once they have had their way they can escape with their bounty on their private jets to the Maldives or other such gilded retreats where they already have homes and tax shelters set up leaving the rest of us to pick up the pieces. Unless we come to our senses we can at least take solace in the fact that we will be a unified nation of lemmings following failed policies across our looming financial cliff.
“And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.” Revelation 13:1-3.
And the beast called itself GOP and written upon its seven heads are: Avarice, Cowardice, Entitlement, Homophobia, Ignorance, Misogyny, and Racism. And the meek shall cry out in agony. And the beast shall be slain by the Lamb, in their name. And the beast's name shall be erased from the minds of men forever.