“Joseph Miller”, a nom de plume for “a ranking Department of Defense” official has an opinion piece out regarding the prospect of Senator Rand Paul running for president. Why Rand Paul’s Ideas Scare Me — And Why They Should Scare You is a typical scare piece from the military/law-enforcement/intelligence-industrial complex, and a completely inappropriate step into electoral politics for the bureaucracy.
While “Miller” ‘s opinions have some merit — the world should think that the United States is ready to throw down over an issue, but as Reagan showed, having people you’re just nuts enough to nuke the planet doesn’t mean you have to do that. Other than a few select actions, Reagan was careful to avoid direct conflict while talking tough. As with the current president, Paul’s statements show a reticence to use military force — a position that can be construed as weakness. (See the current Ukrainian situation.)
His position is in sync with the American people, which the “Miller” points out, then dismisses as naive.
The problem is not the sentiment, which is shared by a large number of Americans: The problem is that any decision on what military resources the United States is willing to bring to bear on its sworn enemies must not come based on some campaign commitment, but based on what the U.S., dealing with real-time facts, has decided its mission is; and what tools U.S. leadership has decided are required to achieve them.
After all, the 307 million or so people he works for — their opinions don’t matter. He’s the “expert.” Probably one of the same that saw nuclear weapons in Iraq. Worse is the assumption that the missions decided upon by the “U.S.” exclude the civilian leadership. That would be the administration, not the bureaucracy. Unfortunately, the various bureaucracies now see themselves as the drivers of policy, not the administration or legislature.
The problem is that Paul cannot seem to differentiate what U.S. national security interests are any more so than Obama can, though Paul does so in the name of a noninterventionist dogma…
After all, Paul is not an “expert.” More importantly, his policies would mean a dramatic reduction of money for the military, their contractors, and could endanger the massive, profitable police militarization programs that are a spin-off of the Terror War.
“Miller” is also obsessed with the collapse of the US puppet governments in Afghanistan and Iraq — situations that were almost certain to occur as soon as American troops left the area (as any historian of the region or intelligence analyst below the rank of lieutenant could have predicted.) The dominos, we are assured, are falling — just as they were in 1961, after we lost China, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. This trend, the “expert” assures us, will lead to certain, imminent threats to our nation.
What “Miller” and the big warfare types miss is, historically, there are two factors that lead inevitably to the collapse of an empire or hegemon…1) massive military campaigns, and 2) large scale public welfare programs. Egypt, Athens, Rome, the Carolingians, Spain, France, Britain — constant war and expensive monuments eat the state up from the inside and make it weak to outside attacks. The Cato Institute shows us what this looks like:
The failure of policy is Afghanistan and Iraq was due to colonial dreams of creating stable nations from cultures that had no real cultural capital regarding self-ownership, freedom of expression, free trade, or representative government. The expansion of the Terror War into Africa and Yemen has not destroyed al-Qaida or other Islamic terror groups because the strategy is not to destroy them, but contain them and keep the money and influence flowing to the DoD and their contractors.
It’s welfare for warfare.
“Miller”, as well as other warfare-welfare sock puppets Dick “Sorry I shot you, dude” Cheney, John “Angry Gnome” and Newt Gingrich assert that the world is more dangerous and unstable than ever before, but the facts do not bear this out. 1) Wars are less deadly than ever before (which also makes them more palatable for long-term conflict…)
But, Scott, those numbers stop at 2008! True — and averaging out the conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, we still do not top the violence of the 1990s, and is nowhere near the levels of the period of classic socialist state violence in the 1940s and 1950s. As for terrorism, the deaths are still lower than that of 2001.
The hawks are wrong — we are safer than we’ve been for a decade. Does that mean we should be less vigilante about monitoring events in the world — absolutely not. Should we be involving ourselves in the internal affairs of other nations? How did that go in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan..? Do we need to be spying on every cell phone and internet user in the United States? No.
But where “Miller” is right — we should look like we’re ready to jump in at a moment’s notice. That might make a politician like Obama, Paul, or (Gary) Johnson look weak internationally, and this can entice our enemies to action. But it is imperative that we strengthen the country internally, and to do that we have to cut our spending dramatically — both on military adventurism, and personal and corporate welfare; reduce harmful regulation by cutting the size of the federal government; and strengthen our nation’s identity by divisive racial and gender politics.