* For clarity, when I say military I mean the whole kit and kaboodle: military, cia, fbi, dhs, tsa, etc. I mean that word to represent every government agency that assumes it has a right to use force against me without my consent.
One of the most frustrating aspects of talking to conservatives about liberty is getting them to see the inherent contradiction between “small government” and “big military.” You can either have large both or small both but you can’t have a mix of one small and one large. Government and the military are one and the same. Where you see big government, you see a big military. The slight exception is Japan, which maintains a small military since they are technically not allowed to even have one according to their constitution(which we wrote after WWII). But, that is the exception and not the rule. On the whole, big government needs big military. Otherwise they wouldn’t stay big for long, or they would never get big in the first place.
I am sympathetic to the modern “Rush Limbaugh” conservative in this respect. The media and government are extremely effective at cherry picking information and delivering it in such a way as to make it seem as if government and military can remain somehow independent. After all, they use this same technique to feign the Fed’s independence from politics as well. I used to believe in this myth myself. Just look at this blog post I wrote back in June of 2006:
With North Korea threatening to do a test fire on it’s newest ICBM that could reach the US mainland and the US activating the missile shield, it reminds me of how important it is to have military bases spread out over the globe. Our bases in the Asian Pacific region have been invaluable at testing the missile shield against a simulated North Korean ICBM. It’s those kinds of tests and strategic placements that ensure the security of this country and we need more of them elsewhere like the middle east. A permanent base in Iraq is a must have. The strategic value of such a base can’t be overstated. Anyone who says otherwise is just being political.
I read that now and I just shake my head. I had no idea what I was talking about. But, notice how I had a mental separation in my mind between military and politics: “A permanent base in Iraq is a must have. The strategic value of such a base can’t be overstated. Anyone who says otherwise is just being political.” As if being in Iraq in the first place was somehow not political. As if we had any right whatsoever to go in and take over that country and kill thousands more than Saddaam ever dreamed of killing. But, I digress.
Here is the bottom line that finally opened my eyes to what is really going on and made me face reality. Here’s what’s been going on for the last 50 years. The Fed inflates the money supply by buying the U.S. government’s debt, in the form of treasury bonds, with printed money. The money received by the government from these purchases gets spent on gigantic military projects both official and off-budget. In this way, the “military industrial complex,” as Eisenhower called it, feeds off the U.S. citizenry. Not in the form of taxation. But, in the form of inflation. In other words, the Federal Reserve slowly erodes the value of your money over time to fund U.S. military actions around the world. It’s what Robert Higgs calls “death fuel.”
Lew Rockwell says eloquently:
The U.S. central bank, called the Federal Reserve, was created in 1913. No one promoted this institution with the slogan that it would make wars more likely and guarantee that nearly half a million Americans would die in battle in foreign lands, along with millions of foreign soldiers and civilians. No one pointed out that this institution would permit Americans to fund, without taxes, the destruction of cities abroad and overthrow governments at will. No one said that the central bank would make it possible for the U.S. to be at large-scale war in one of every four years for a full century. It was never pointed out that this institution would make it possible for the U.S. government to establish a global empire that would make Imperial Rome and Britain look benign by comparison.
Conservatives love to criticize how much money is spent on the welfare state, and that is true. Theft is theft. But, the cost of welfare simply pales in comparison to the size of the theft taking place when it comes to our gargantuan global military empire. Has it not peaked anyone’s curiosity that during WWII our government was literally begging Americans to “buy war bonds,” but now days it magically seems as if we can fight war after war lasting decades on end with no need for special financing? Odd huh. Well, not if you understand the Federal Reserve’s role as I explained above. They print up the money and the Executive branch spends it on war. Simple as that.
As you watch prices rise over the next 20 years to the point where your retirement nest egg you worked 50 years for barely covers your car payment, just remember, you sacrificed your retirement so that we could blow some stuff up and kill tens of thousands of people whom you’ve never met, in a far away land you’ll never visit. What a deal!