We Have Met the Enemy -- Our Masters
The Enemy-Industrial Complex
If Karl Marx hadn't once famously written that history repeats itself "first as tragedy, then as farce," we would have had to invent the phrase for this very moment. This excerpt is from TomDispatch, Apr 15.
by Tom EngelhardtThe US has poured money into national security as if there were no tomorrow. From our police to our borders, we've up-armored everywhere. We constantly hear about "threats" to us and to the "homeland."
As I read about the next move in the spreading war on terror, the next drone assassination, the next ratcheting up of the surveillance game, the next expansion of the secrecy that envelops our government, the next set of expensive actions taken to guard us, I think to myself: Where's the enemy?
It's in the interest of some in our country that we be seen as surrounded by constant and imminent dangers on an enemy-filled planet.
In the wake of US wars and operations, Americans now have more enemies, more angry, embittered people who would like to do us harm than on September 10, 2001.
Thousands of jihadis, mostly in the poorest backlands of the planet, have gone by with little ability to do anything to the United States. There also have been tiny numbers of wannabe Islamic terrorists in the U.S. (once you take away the string of FBI sting operations that have regularly turned hopeless slackers and lost teenagers into the most dangerous of fantasy Muslim plotters). And then, of course, there are those two relatively hapless regional powers, Iran and North Korea, whose bark far exceeds their potential bite.
The U.S., in other words, is probably in less danger from external enemies than at any moment in the last century. There is no other imperial power on the planet capable of, or desirous of, taking on American power directly, including China.
9/11 cost an estimated $400,000-$500,000, though it would lead to a series of trillion-dollar wars. It in no way endangered the state. In fact, it would actually strengthen many of its powers. It was meant to spread fear. It did.
Americans accept the equivalent yearly of more than six 9/11s in suicides-by-gun and more than 10 when it comes to vehicular deaths. No one has declared war on either the car or the gun (or the companies that make them or the people who sell them). No one has built a massive, nearly trillion-dollar car-and-gun-security-complex to deal with them. On both scores, Americans have decided to live with real dangers and the staggering carnage that accompanies them.
Without an enemy, so much that was done in Washington in these years might have been unattainable. The vast national security building and spending spree -- stretching from the Virginia suburbs of Washington, where the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency erected its new $1.8 billion headquarters, to Bluffdale, Utah, where the National Security Agency is still constructing a $2 billion, one-million-square-foot data center for storing the world's intercepted communications -- would have been unlikely.
The exponential growth of the national security complex, as well as of the powers of the executive branch when it comes to national security matters, would have far been less likely. We would have no Department of Homeland Security nor the lucrative mini-homeland-security complex that surrounds it; the 17-outfit U.S. Intelligence Community with its massive $75 billion official budget would have been far less impressive.
Increasingly as the years went on, jobs, livelihoods, an expanding world of "security" depended on the continuance of all this, on the injection of regular doses of fear into the body politic.
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JJS: Letting politicians spend public money -- on war, on corporate welfare, on bridges to nowhere, on schools that squash children’s innate curiosity, etc -- invites them to enrich themselves and their friends. It’s been that way forever. It’s been the main reason why the power mad want to control government, to dish out state favors. Our tolerating it is a thoughtless social habit. Wannabe reformers never demand an end to the discretionary spending power of politicians, eventho’ they cry to the high heavens how irritated they are with the politicians’ spending choices. That’s not rational, but politics invites irrational behavior.
Instead of letting politicians spend our money, we should spend it ourselves. We should pay citizens a dividend. Most people won’t choose to pay for drone strikes but will pay for teachers and doctors.
From where should society get its public revenue? From the values its very presence generates. That is, from the value of locations. Use taxes or fees or dues or whatever to redirect spending for land into the public treasury, then out again as dividends to citizens. Want to end that lucrative war machine? That’s how. Take over the reins of public spending by sharing the worth of Mother Earth.
Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .
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