We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.
– Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell address to the nation, 1961
Whoa! Another good day for the Dow. It jumped 135 points.
Gold, meanwhile, was flat.
We caution readers against jumping into US stocks. This trundling buggy could overturn at any moment. Margin debt is well above its peaks before the dot-com crash and the Lehman crisis.
And P/Es are so high – 24% above the historical average on a 12-month reported earnings basis – it is almost certain that sellers will fare better than buyers. Moms and pops are back in the market. It’s time for serious investors to bug out.
We leave our “Crash Alert” flag up us a warning.
And we change the subject…
The Most Dangerous Zombies of All
When President Eisenhower made his parting speech to the nation, many people were puzzled. Eisenhower was a career military man. How could he be so disloyal to his professional class, they wondered?
But Ike knew something most people don’t. He understood warmongers. And he knew that armed zombies are the most dangerous zombies of all.
We saw Ike in the flesh many years ago, just before he died. We were visiting our father in the Walter Reed military hospital in Washington.
We were walking down the corridor with Dad – a World War II veteran – when he suddenly stood up straight and saluted. It had been at least 20 years since he had worn a uniform, but the reflex was still there. When General Eisenhower whisked by us in a wheelchair, Dad stood to attention.
Now another 40 years have passed. Eisenhower’s warning, ignored and forgotten, has turned into a curse. For reasons of its own – money, power, status – the military-industrial complex pulls us into war after war.
Our old friend Steve Chapman at the Chicago Tribune:
The US boasts the most powerful military on Earth. We have 1.4 million active-duty personnel, thousands of tanks, ships and planes, and 5,000 nuclear warheads.
We spend more on defense than the next 13 countries combined.
Since 1991, notes University of Chicago security scholar John Mearsheimer, the US has been at war in two out of every three years…
We are more secure than any country in the history of the world. What almost all of our recent military interventions have in common is that they involved countries that had not attacked us: Libya, Iraq, Serbia, Haiti, Somalia, Panama, Grenada and North Vietnam.
With the notable exception of the Afghanistan invasion, we don’t fight wars of necessity. We fight wars of choice.
Why do we choose to stick our noses in other peoples’ business? What reward do we get for the trillions of dollars we spend doing so… and for the young men who come home with missing limbs and suicidal tendencies?
Why do we do it? Hawks, doves, geopolitical strategy, national security – none of them have anything to do with it. They are just wind. BS. TV babble.
The real reason we spend so much and get ourselves into so many wars is that we have developed a class of military zombies. Their careers, their wealth, their social standing, their sex lives – all depend on meddling in other peoples’ affairs.
Aspiring to Empire
In 2006, we wrote a book with Agora Financial publisher Addison Wiggin called Empire of Debt. We explained the phenomenon as something great powers inevitably do. As soon as they can push other people around, they aspire to empire, we said.
In a new book, not yet released, we explain it in another way…
Humans developed into what they are in the Paleolithic period. Back then, based on bone records and guesswork, if the men of a tribe weren’t ready to defend themselves, fiercely and without question, the tribe might not survive.
Their women and their territory might soon be taken from them. Those pre-civilized instincts are now hardwired into the modern human brain. In a modern context, America’s wars seem silly, stupid and counterproductive. But they are as popular as the Super Bowl.
Both of those explanations have merit. But Ike understood it differently. He saw how powerful internal forces drive a military machine to become an empire… and to make war.
An educator will try to aggrandize himself by insisting on more education. A butcher will want more meat on the menu. And a man with a gun in his hands will declare – with a straight face and in solemn sincerity – that we need to kill someone in Syria to protect our manhood!