Criticism alone fails—imperialist warmongering will continue as a result of militaristic politicians unless alternative strategies are promoted through policy making
Bandow, Cato Institute senior fellow, 2010
[Doug, 3/15/10, Cato Institute, “Battling the Bipartisan Consensus for War,” http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/battling-bipartisan-consensus-war?print, 7/13/14, IC]
It is this world which brought representatives from Right to Left together. Participants discussed rhetoric: criticizing “imperialism,” for instance, resonates far better with the Left than the Right. But there was broad agreement on policy. Washington today has a strategy of “empire.” The U.S. isn’t the same as the Roman or British empires, to be sure. But American foreign and military policy could hardly be further from those one would expect from a constitutional republic with a government of limited powers intended to concentrate on protecting the safety and liberty of its citizens.
Thus, Americans need real change, not the faux variety offered by the Obama administration. The military should be configured to defend America, not client states around the globe. U.S. taxpayers should not be fleeced to subsidize wealthy allies. Washington should not use patriotic 18-year-olds to occupy Third World states, treating them like American satrapies, governed by U.S. ambassadors. Uncle Sam should stop trying to micro-manage the globe, treating every conflict or controversy as America’s own, exaggerating foreign threats and inflating Washington’s abilities.
The price of today’s policy of empire is high. Far from being the costless adventure imagined by members of Washington’s ubiquitous sofa samurai, war is the ultimate big government program, a threat to Americans’ life, prosperity, and liberty.
So far the Iraqi “cakewalk” has resulted in the death of roughly 4400 Americans and 300 other coalition soldiers. Then there are tens of thousands of maimed and injured Americans, others suffering from PSD, and numerous broken families and communities. At least 100,000 and probably many more Iraqis have died. Some estimates run up to a million, a truly astonishing number. America’s ivory tower warriors seem particularly unconcerned about dead foreigners. However many Iraqis died, it is treated as a small price to pay for the privilege of being liberated by Washington.
Another cost is financial. Direct military outlays this year will run over $700 billion. Iraq is ultimately likely cost $2 or $3 trillion. Washington spends more on “defense,” adjusted for inflation, today than at any point during the Cold War, Korean War, and Vietnam War. The U.S. accounts for nearly half of the globe’s military expenditures.
American taxpayers pay to defend prosperous and populous European states. Japan devotes about a fourth as much of its economic strength to the military as does the U.S. The NATO member which makes the most military effort is crisis-prone Greece — in response to nominal ally Turkey. For years American taxpayers spent as much as South Koreans to defend the Republic of Korea.
Such generosity might have made sense in the aftermath of World War II, when so many Asian and European states had been ruined by war and faced Stalin’s Soviet Union and Mao’s China. No longer, however. Especially with the U.S. budget deficit expected to run nearly $1.6 trillion this year alone. Over the next decade Uncle Sam likely will rack up another $10 trillion in red ink. In effect, Washington is borrowing every penny which it is spending to defend other nations.
Liberty also suffers from a policy of empire. “War is the health of the state,” intoned Randolph Bourne, and it certainly is the health of the national security state. The constitutional deformations of the Bush years were legendary, yet President Barack Obama has done little to rein in his predecessor’s lawless conduct. Executive aggrandizement, government secrecy, privacy violations, military arrests and trials, and constitutional violations. The U.S. is in danger of losing its republican soul.
Of course, one could imagine a truly necessary war which would have to be fought almost irrespective of cost—World War II, perhaps. However, while jihadist terrorists are ugly and murderous, they are a poor substitute for Adolf Hitler with armored divisions and Joseph Stalin with nuclear weapons. We aren’t fighting World War III. We aren’t fighting anything close to World War III.
And if we were in such a conflict, a policy of empire, of meddling around the globe, of engaging in international social engineering, would be about the most foolish strategy possible. Most of what the U.S. military does has nothing to do with American security: protecting European states threatened by no one, aiding a South Korea which vastly out ranges its northern antagonist, attempting to turn decrepit Third World states into liberal democracies and Western allies.
The problem of terrorism is real, but is best met by sophisticated, targeted countermeasures rather than promiscuous blunt-force intervention. The war in Iraq has enhanced Iran’s strategic position, weakened America’s reputation, stretched U.S. military forces, spurred terrorist recruitment, and confirmed the radical terrorist narrative. A lengthy occupation of Afghanistan and overflow combat into Pakistan risk doing much the same—potentially for years. Expanded American intervention in Somalia, Yemen, and elsewhere would have a similar effect.
Militaristic sloganeering, patriotic preening, and demagogic ranting are no substitute for making a realistic assessment both of threats and capabilities. Meeting participants agreed that pro-peace activists must seize back the patriotic mantle. Patriotism should no longer be the last refuge of the scoundrel, used to shield from scrutiny policies drafted by those personally unwilling to serve which have wreaked death and destruction abroad and increased debt and insecurity at home. And any antiwar movement should welcome those who have worn the nation’s uniforms, whose courage has been misused by self-serving politicians.
This is not the first time that people from across the political spectrum have joined in an attempt to stop imperialist adventures. Various groups opposed the Spanish-American War and especially the brutal occupation of the Philippines. Woodrow Wilson’s bloody crusade for democracy was resisted by conservatives and progressives; socialist Eugene Debs went to prison for criticizing that conflict. Left and Right even opposed Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s surreptitious push for war, though the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and German declaration of war ultimately made involvement inevitable.
Indeed, mainstream American concern about international adventurism goes back to George Washington’s famed farewell address warning against “foreign entanglements” and consequent “overgrown military establishments.” Secretary of State John Quincy Adams warned against going abroad “in search of monsters to destroy.” Future Civil War generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee expressed disquiet at America’s rapacious war with Mexico even while serving their nation in that very conflict. “The commercial interests” angered war-hawk Teddy Roosevelt for opposing his campaign for war against Spain. Middle America resisted demands that the U.S. join both great European wars of the 20th century. President Dwight D. Eisenhower left office warning about the military-industrial complex.
Unfortunately, politicians have proved extraordinarily adept at rousing, at least temporarily, public support for foreign military adventures. Resisting the ivory tower warmongers will be no easier today. But those who believe in peace have no choice but to try, and try again.
Peace should be America’s natural condition. Unfortunately, it will not be so as long as today’s unnatural alliance of liberal and neoconservative hawks runs U.S. foreign policy. And only the American people can take back control. The future of the American people and republic is at stake.
State based politics are key—it co-opts egalitarian, anti-militaristic movements
Conversi, University of the Basque Country and Ikerbasque Contemporary History Research Professor, 2008
[Daniele, 9/10/08, “’We are all equals!’ Militarism, homogenization and ‘egalitarianism’ in nationalist state-building (1789-1945),” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 31:7, p. 1308, 7/12/14, IC]
My focus on militarism is not intended to entirely replace industrialization as a broader explanation for the rise of nationalism. It rather intends to accompany and complement it. By highlighting the importance of the military, the attention is concurrently shifted to the role of the state and the centrality of political power. State-centred approaches have been covered widely in the nationalism literature (see Breuilly 1993). Thus, my contribution is more expressly concerned with the state’s cultural homogenizing drive and its recurrent attraction to militarism and war-making via nationalism, particularly as underpinned by egalitarian rhetoric. Military developments have been at the heart of most major contemporary events. Thus, the collapse of the Soviet Union was mostly a consequence of unsustainable military spending, while the central role of the army in the breakup of Yugoslavia is also widely acknowledged.24 Political decisions can affect everyday life, but can also shape, change and manipulate national identities.
Switch-side debate functions to combat militarism—empirically proven
Mitchell, University of Pittsburgh Communication Associate Professor, et al 2002
[Gordon R., & Eric English & Stephen Llano & Catherine E. Morrison & John Rief & Carly Woods, University of Pittsburgh Department of Communication graduate students and members of the Schenley Park Debate Authors Working Group, June 2007, “Debate as a Weapon of Mass Destruction,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 4:2, p. 224-225, 7/12/14, IC]
It is our position, however, that rather than acting as a cultural technology expanding American exceptionalism, switch-side debating originates from a civic attitude that serves as a bulwark against fundamentalism of all stripes. Several prominent voices reshaping the national dialogue on homeland security have come from the academic debate community and draw on its animating spirit of critical inquiry. For example, Georgetown University law professor Neal Katyal served as lead plaintiff’s counsel in Hamdan, which challenged post-9/11 enemy combat definitions.12 The foundation for Katyal’s winning argument in Hamdan was laid some four years before, when he collaborated with former intercollegiate debate champion Laurence Tribe on an influential Yale Law Journal addressing a similar topic.13
Tribe won the National Debate Tournament in 1961 while competing as an undergraduate debater for Harvard University. Thirty years later, Katyal represented Dartmouth College at the same tournament and finished third. The imprint of this debate training is evident in Tribe and Katyal’s contemporary public interventions, which are characterized by meticulous research, sound argumentation, and a staunch commitment to democratic principles. Katyal’s reflection on his early days of debating at Loyola High School in Chicago’s North Shore provides a vivid illustration. ‘‘I came in as a shy freshman with dreams of going to medical school. Then Loyola’s debate team opened my eyes to a different world: one of argumentation and policy.’’ As Katyal recounts, ‘‘the most important preparation for my career came from my experiences as a member of Loyola’s debate team.’’14
The success of former debaters like Katyal, Tribe, and others in challenging the dominant dialogue on homeland security points to the efficacy of academic debate as a training ground for future advocates of progressive change. Moreover, a robust understanding of the switch-side technique and the classical liberalism which underpins it would help prevent misappropriation of the technique to bolster suspect homeland security policies. For buried within an inner-city debater’s files is a secret threat to absolutism: the refusal to be classified as ‘‘with us or against us,’’ the embracing of intellectual experimentation in an age of orthodoxy, and reflexivity in the face of fundamentalism. But by now, the irony of our story should be apparent—the more effectively academic debating practice can be focused toward these ends, the greater the proclivity of McCarthy’s ideological heirs to brand the activity as a ‘‘weapon of mass destruction.’’