In this excerpt from “America’s War Machine,” authors James McCartney and Molly Sinclair McCartney explain how the military become so ingrained in US political and economical systems.
If you think the State Department runs American foreign policy, think again.
The primary force that controls U.S. foreign policy in most recent administrations — including the administration of Barack Obama — has been the Pentagon.
In the simplest sense, the Pentagon is where the money is, and in Washington, as elsewhere, money talks.
Even Admiral Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has expressed concern about the Pentagon’s overwhelming influence on foreign policy.
In a March 3, 2010, speech, Mullen declared, “U.S. foreign policy is still too dominated by the military, too dependent upon the generals and admirals who lead our major over- seas commands.”
Former secretary of defence Robert Gates has made the same point, noting that it seems to be much easier for Congress to vote for money for the Pentagon than for the State Department.
The September 11 terrorists understood the sources of influence that drive the American government. In targeting Washington, they crashed their hijacked aeroplane into the Pentagon.
They ignored the State Department.
No part of the American power structure has a deeper vested interest in war than the Pentagon.
The United States emerged as a superpower in the years of the Cold War, beginning in the late 1940s, with a vast structure of sophisticated military forces, thousands of nuclear weapons, and a worldwide network of military bases.
An American empire was constructed, far stronger and more extensive than any of the great empires of history.
Because of the competition with the Soviet Union, few questioned the necessity of a substantial military budget.
It was inherent in America’s role as a leader of the so-called Free World. But the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and elemental logic would seem to dictate a substantial change in military posture.
That has not happened.
For at least the last three decades — ever since Ronald Reagan became president in 1981 — and on many occasions before that, American foreign policy has had a distinct militaristic flavour that is well described by historian and former military officer Andrew Bacevich:
Today as never before in their history, Americans are enthralled with military power. The global military supremacy that the United States presently enjoys — and is bent on perpetuating — has become central to our national identity.
More than America’s matchless material abundance or even the effusions of its pop culture, the nation’s arsenal of high tech weaponry and the soldiers who employ that arsenal have come to signify who we are and what we stand for.
One measure of America’s bent toward a militarised foreign policy is its defence budget.
According to an analysis by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based authority on military spending, the United States outspends the rest of the world on defence.
The IISS reported that the United States spent $739.3 billion in 2011, compared to a total of $486.7 billion for the next nine countries, including $89.8 billion for China, $62.7 billion for the United Kingdom, and $52.7 billion for Russia.
Money talks, and in the U.S. budget it screams military.
Excerpted from America’s War Machine: Vested Interests, Endless Conflicts by James McCartney with Molly Sinclair McCartney. Copyright © 2015 by Molly Sinclair McCartney and reprinted by permission of Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.
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