Sunday, June 5, 2011

#30: Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War by Andrew J Bacevich

2010, Metropolitan Books, 304 p

Bacevich, a former Lt. Colonel in the US Army and current Professor at Boston University, goes straight at what Ike called the "military industrial complex" in this text. I try to use Ike's farewell speech in 1961 in my history class every year, as it was a true pointing out of the danger to representative democracy that a large elite reliant upon federal monies presents to the rest of us. Far from being one of the popular "Washington Elites are ruining the country" books popular with the Beckites and Left-Wing Ninnies, this text pushes it back on us.

Bacevich  presents what he calls "the trinity" of American action since WWII: maintain a global military presence, project military power over the globe and intervene "at will" in countries throughout the world. We all know (or should) that the Department of Defense soaks up nearly $700 billion per year if you include supplemental bills to pay for Iraq and Afghanistan. But, every president since Kennedy has been reticent to cut military spending. This is one of the Left's big indictments of the Obama Administration. According to the NY Times Interactive Budget Obama's 2011 budget raises military spending by roughly $11 billion. Of course, the cuts to the "education for the disadvantaged" amounts to nearly $5 billion. What did you expect? Change? Bacevich, like Ike, puts it in stark terms. As Ike pointed out in the late 1950s, one bomber could build close to 200 schools.

In this day and age, think about the F-18 Hornet. For one F-18, the US could :
1.According to the SSA, the average social security payout per recipient is $1077.20 per month. For the cost of one F-18, the US could pay 29,706 of those monthly benefits.
2. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Right Wing Bogeyman where Carl Castle plots the demise of all decent folks, has a budget of....$551 million! Or, roughly 17 F-18s. But the planes provide so much more. They don't talk back.
3. At the maximum allowed level ($5300), one F-18 is equivalent to Pell Grants for 6037 students. So let's cut the Pell Grants. They are simply to fucking expensive. I mean, really, what good is $5300 when the average public 4-year university is currently running $7605. Of course, the private colleges that most of the people that make these decisions went to run about $27,000. Average Cost of College

Bacevich stresses that American military action now (especially Iraq) has gone far to reducing the credibility of the U.S. While bashing McGeorge Bundy, Allen Dulles and the rest of the crew that brought you The Bay of Pigs and Vietnam, he also takes to task Presidents Carter, Reagan and both Bushes. Bacevich sees no difference between administrations when their actions are viewed through the powerful lens of his trinity. More than this, Bacevich explicitly invokes the idea that we are a country who should not seek to impose our senses of freedom on the world through military strength but rather provide a great example of freedom and opportunity. Americans have always been involved in a dialogue about living up to our creed and our ideals, and this is really the message of the text. While our states go bankrupt, the US threatens to default on its debt and knuckle dragging jackasses such as Paul Ryan and Rand Paul blather about the perils of debt, the spending on our military continues apace in the name of the very freedoms that we shut out from people in this country every day.

No comments:

Post a Comment