Tuesday, July 01, 2008
What Price --- Security?
Is it possible to guarantee the absolute security of the United States and its citizens? If this is believe possible --- what will be the cost to Americans in terms of money and freedom?
One approach which some have in the upper realms of our government and military to national security is to control the "global commons". In other words an American global hegemony (domination) of the planet and of space.
If we expand our military capabilities with newer and newer more sophisticated and more destructive weapons --- we will have the power to make sure that the U.S. is totally secure --- and, for that matter -- U.S. needs are fulfilled for raw materials; U.S. strategic interests are fulfilled (no other nation having the capability to harm us); and American values of capitalism and our version of democracy are either adopted or imposed throughout all nations.
Nations historically have felt the need to have sufficient armed force to deter attacks.
However, as Tom Englehardt* points out in his article, "The Next War":
But it's a different matter when you're preparing for future "wars of choice" (which used to be called wars of aggression) -- for the next war(s) on what our secretary of defense now calls the "the 21st century's global commons." By that, he means not just planet Earth in its entirety, but "space and cyberspace" as well. For the American military, it turns out, planning for a future "defense" of the United States means planning for planet-wide, over-the-horizon counterinsurgency.
To make sure we are safe from everybody we must almost be continuously preparing for war, and, in fact, waging war. Anything that any nation or group does that we believe will harm America --- must be squashed. For example, Russia and China have been cooperating to secure the oil reserves of the former Soviet Republics (south of Russia) for their own needs. Isn't this a threat to our national security? We must have oil --- all the oil we need to preserve our way of life -- our American dream -- our standard of living. Hugo Chavez is reasoning undermining our security by encouraging other South American countries to use their resources for their own development and not to sell them on the "cheap" to us. The people in the Southern Hemisphere are talking about a Common Market or a European Union -- of their own. This hurts our security. China is helping African countries with aid and manpower in building up their infrastructure --- and signing up oil contracts throughout the continent. They, the Chinese, see this as a matter of Their national security.
If a rebel group in some Middle Eastern country organizes to overthrow their tyrannical government and adopt some type of (their own) democracy and pursue their country's own self interest --- is this not a threat to our security? We must make sure that our nations have leaders friendly, sympathetic, and cooperative with America.
Might I suggest that we begin to accept that the nations of the world are interdependent and that to avoid never ending war, death, misery and mutual destruction that we might consider -- all of us --- cooperation rather than competition; honesty rather than deceit; adjustment rather than stubborness; humility rather than hubris; community rather than rampant individualism; and compassion rather than indifference or cruelty.
It's along this path that real security lies.
* Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com. The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (Verso, 2008), a collection of some of the best pieces from his site, has just been published. Focusing on what the mainstream media hasn't covered, it is an alternative history of the mad Bush years. Engelhardt is also the author of The End of Victory Culture, recently updated in a newly issued edition that covers victory culture's crash-and-burn sequel in Iraq.