The men who wrote the Constitution had a pretty straightforward plan to Provide for the Common Defense.
Most new Americans viewed a standing army as a source of oppressive behavior at home and misanthropic behavior abroad, so opted for state militias and a navy instead. The fledgling Republic didn’t want to defeat the British Empire to install a new one in the society they had so recently created by way of spilled blood and shared sacrifice. Yet that is exactly what We The People and our Reprehensible Representatives built over the last 230 years, a fraction of the time it took the Romans or the British.
Is it fair to say that Congress creating the US Army in 1784, almost before the ink was dry on a Constitution forbidding the legislation, led to the current abrogation of our most basic civil rights by an unaccountable federal government? Did a concentration of absolute power in so few hands lead to a nation of subservient states with automaton citizens? How did we become totally disengaged from the reality of our situation, much less the understanding necessary to fix it?
It is clear that war is simply another racket, responsible for our greatest collective shames as well as our steady decline as a people.
An interesting thing happened on the way to the Coliseum recently as our military leaders and our civilian leaders started to question the very gravy train that makes them so powerful. Perhaps they wonder if this Frankenstein creation of public and private interests with zero oversight or accountability to We The People Who Pay The Bills (let alone the Constitution) might not be the very thing that the sets the villagers to rounding up the dogs and the torches and the pitch-forks.
I have no doubt that these men and women of note are acting in self interest when they start talking about changes of this magnitude. They see more people paying more attention to where the money flows, asking uncomfortable questions in numerous venues across the nation. We The People are finally starting to realize that government cannot run budgets constantly soaked in red ink without bleeding us dry in the process. The costs of a $700 billion dollar “investment” in defense extend far beyond the money itself.
There are opportunity costs as well. Things we haven’t done the past sixty plus years as we sent our best and brightest off to kill and die in Imperial Crusades on foreign shores. The dirty secret no one wants to admit is that if we simply brought every troop home that the War on Whatever would end for good. The world’s people love us as much as the next country, but mostly from afar or as individuals or as consumers. Up close with guns and goons and greed, we are just as ugly and brutal as they are which is never good for any relationship.
I outlined in a recent blog all my ideas on what our national defense might look like with a little applied common sense, so I won’t repeat myself here.
I will add that those same “defense” dollars invested in green energy development, national infrastructure projects and in bolstering the non-profit sector would return enormous benefits on multiple levels for years to come. Applying the same common sense pressure to the rest of our 4 trillion dollar federal budget (not to mention state and local governments) would uncover areas of waste, fraud and abuse that could be turned toward building a more sane and sustainable society at all levels.
The city on the hill is again within our reach but with an important caveat.
There remains a huge problem standing in the way of such a strategic shift in focus for the Republic. It is no surprise to me that this former officer in training identified the tactical failure of our recent “revolution” at the ballot box. All the Hope & Change that excited 54% of the 56.8% of Americans who bothered to vote in 2008 (pathetic numbers considering the importance of the election) started and ended with what We The People Who Slumber would do in 2009.
No surprise that we were absentee landlords with tenants intent on burning down the building and salting the ashes.
Can we do better in 2010? Yes, We Can. Will we we do better in 2010?
That is indeed the rub, Joe.