By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
You’re saying the real impetus here is more a self-perpetuating military bureaucracy rather than some grand rational strategy?
Right. I think Eisenhower was right when he spoke of how we didn’t recognize the unwarranted power of the arms industry. You know, a piece of the B-2 bomber is built in every one of the continental states.
What are the costs of this empire to democracy and the republic?
There’s the literal cost. We are flirting with bankruptcy. We are not paying for what is now a $750 billion tab. The defense appropriation itself is about $420 billion. That doesn’t include another $125 billion, which is the cost of Afghanistan and Iraq. Then another $20 billion for nuclear weapons in the Department of Energy. Add in another $200 billion or so for military pensions and for health benefits for our veterans. Together, that’s three-quarters of a trillion dollars.
We are putting it on the tab, running up some of the most extraordinary budget and trade deficits in history. If the bankers of Asia and Japan should tire of financing this, if they notice the euro is now stronger than the dollar, then all this ends — whether or not they like the Boy Emperor from Crawford. We would face a terrible crisis.
The greater cost is what the public will lose, if they haven’t already lost it: the republic, the structural defense of our liberties, the separation of powers to block the growth of a dictatorial presidency.
But American history didn’t begin on January 20, 2001, or on 9/11. Isn’t much of what you describe a situation that dates back a full century or more? Why blame so much of this on George W. Bush?
Yes, this goes back a long way — to Teddy Roosevelt acquiring colonies from the Spanish. But Bush dropped the mask. He comes out and says we are a New Rome, we don’t need the U.N. or any friends. We now put countries on hit lists. Certainly, if there were some steering committee for an American imperial project, it would consider Bill Clinton a much better imperial president than George W. Bush. It’s always better strategy to not show your hand, to take an indirect approach but to know exactly where you are going.
In a recent review of your book, leftist writer Ian Williams chides you for investing too much belief in the evil of the Bushies. Williams argues that, looking at Iraq, one might conclude that rather than grand imperialists, the Bush folks are instead spectacular screwups.
Well, undoubtedly they bungled things in Iraq, from not using enough troops to misreading the intelligence, and there is more evidence of it every day. But there was never a plan to leave Iraq because there is no intention of leaving Iraq. We are currently building 14 bases there. Dick Cheney can’t imagine giving up that oil. And the military can’t imagine giving up those bases. That’s why they can’t come up with a plan to leave.
Yet Bush’s policies have provoked international and domestic backlashes. Does that make you hopeful?
The political system alone can no longer save the republic. Even if Congress wanted to exercise real oversight, how can it when 40 percent of the military budget is secret? All of the intelligence budget is secret. The only hopeful sign I saw was a year ago when 10 million people demonstrated in the streets for peace. We also saw the recent election in Spain as a response to what is happening. If we can see that now in the U.S., in the U.K., in Italy, then maybe we can have some hope. Otherwise we will soon be talking about the short happy life of the American republic.