Sunday, July 11, 2010

#229 Good Libertarianism: On War

This is My Lai, but I make no apologies for throwing it up again as a reminder of the reality of interventionist foreign wars. We just never learn. If there's any doubt that America has gone "back to the future" and is now fully become the militaristic nation it was in the 60's and early 70's, it's should be dispelled by this recent headline and lead:

General George Casey. the chief of Staff of the Army, said today the United States could face another "decade or so" of persistent conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. (CBS News 7-8-10 here)

A "decade or SO"!!!!!--welcome to the first half of the American 21st Century. To tangentialize a moment: this guy, George W. (!) Casey Jr., is 61 years old. He's a true "Junior" in that his father was also an army man, a First Cavalry Division commander shot down and killed in Vietnam in 1970. Son George Jr. was born in Korea, where his father was stationed during that ill-advised conflict, only one among ALL OF THEM since WWII, which is to this very day (check the news last month) an uneasy standoff, sixty years on, never having been won or lost. (This is in spite of the old joke that the M*A*S*H TV series lasted longer than the war it depicted. It really, and sadly, didn't) But the General is to the manner born, and his "siege mentality" would seem to be inbred. Isn't it nice to foresee one's security in the latter years of one's career, even unto retirement or death--no matter the tribute paid in thousands and thousands of human lives. In a former age Casey might have been called a warlord, if not surely a mercenary.

Listen, our bloated military-industrial complex, which Gen/Prez Eisenhower warned us about HALF a century ago, drains HALF the national treasury every year, and grabs HALF your annual Federal income taxes paid. Somebody's got to pay General Casey's salary. He mongers the war that he's getting paid to fight. A perpetual motion machine, if ever there was. But nothing new. And haven't they done a god job of it?! Afghanistan is now America's LONGEST WAR, finally surpassing Vietnam, its fraternal twin.

Yes, 50% of your annual tax bill goes to the misnamed "Defense" Department. Why aren't the self-proclaimed Taxed-Enough-Already/Tea Baggers on top of this? They should be all over it like white on angry old white men. Never comes up. Why?--because, also self-proclaimed, they are 80% Republicans, and that's just contrary to the party line. Convoluted irony of ironies: just last week, unlucky, incongruously-African-American RNC Chair, Michael Steele, got in trouble again for being a sleeper-cell Democrat, even though he was directly attacking the President! "It's Obama's War ... let's get the hell out"--or some such. This seriously brassed-off the foreign-interventionists of both parties, including even the anti-war faction of the Democrats, who would rather continue to blame the whole megilla on the two Bushes. They're right, but so too, at the same time, is Michael Steele.

It proves something else about the Tea Baggers. They are far from being classical Libertarians, at least in terms of what has always been a most important foundational pillar of the Party:

We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to DEFEND the United States against aggression. The United States should both AVOID ENTANGLING ALLIANCES and abandon its attempts to act as POLICEMAN FOR THE WORLD. We oppose any form of compulsory national service.

That comes right out of the Libertarian Party 2010 Platform (here), but is also right out of the Vietnam War and the American misadventures that followed, and are still going on. DEFENSIVE WARS ONLY, if you please. The platform righteously purloins the very terms another George W. used long ago--foreshadowing Ike many years later--"Beware foreign entanglements" of the military sort, said the Father of Our Country in his Farewell Address, and we wouldn't have to fight wars of any kind. We just never learn. (more)

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