Friday, April 17, 2009

US as ‘Nation Builder’: Delusions of Omnipotence

US as ‘Nation Builder’: Delusions of Omnipotence
by William Pfaff on
If I judge an article by its ability to make me think, this one gets an "A". Let me just focus on this last bit right at the end.

There is an important book, The Power Problem, just coming out in the United States (Cornell University Press), which puts forth the case that American military power naturally invites excessive or irrelevant use, and that the habits of mind created by military supremacy have caused the United States to be less safe than otherwise, less free, more vulnerable, and less able to do the things that fundamental national security demands.

Its author, Christopher A. Preble, is a former officer in the U.S. Navy and is head of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. He argues, as many others do, that the United States has a level of military power that it doesn’t need, has limited utility against stateless enemies and insurgents, and causes confusion between military strength and national power, the latter being the ability to actually produce a desired effect. It is a good and lucid book and deserves a wide audience.

I'd take that analysis one step further. Its the very act of creating this concentration of power in the US federal government that has cost us some of our democracy and liberties at home. Think not only of the military power under the control of those who control the US government, but think also of the economic power. If you control the US government, not only do you get to decide whether entire countries get torn apart militarily, but you also get to decide who makes hundreds of billions of dollars in profits. These days, you also get to decide who gets trillions of dollars in 'bailout' money.

Now, ask yourself this question. What do you think that greedy and power-hungry people will do to gain and keep control of that concentration of power? Then ask the appropriate follow-up question. Do you feel that American citizens have put enough effort into making sure that both their election systems are unquestionably honest and that their rights and liberties as American citizens have been protected? Given the sorts of people that such a great concentration of power would attract, have Americans done enough since WWII to protect and defend their democracy and liberties from such people?

Now, add this to Mr. Pfaff's analysis of whether having this level of military power has made us more or less safe as citizens? Are we better off with or without this power?

Thomas Jefferson is known for favoring decentralized power where control of the power stays as close to local communities as possible. The Department of Homeland Security just declared this to be an 'extremist' philosophy.

The report from DHS' Office of Intelligence and Analysis defines right-wing extremism in the U.S. as "divided into those groups, movements and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups) and those that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely

Note the way that they not only link people who support Mr. Jefferson's philosophy with hate-groups, but that they are considered to be equally extremist by the government. Given that opinion, its no surprise that the US government now regards support for the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution as a sign of extremism. The 10th Amendment is the one that reads ...

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Do we really have a situation where a government regards support for elements of the Constitution, the legal document that defines and legitimizes that government, as an extremist action?

Now, think some more about this great concentration of power we've allowed to be created in the US government.

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