Besides holding Afghanistan and Iraq hostage, the Pentagon today is holding American civilization itself hostage to its imperial designs. That’s because war beggars civilized life and ceaseless war beggars civilization unceasingly.
As the great political commentator Walter Lippman put it during the Viet Nam War, “All the plans of the Great Society here at home, all the plans for the rebuilding of backward countries in other continents will all be put on the shelf, because war interrupts everything.” In the American Warfare State that prevails today most of every tax dollar collected goes to wage war and the Pentagon spends more for war than all 50 states combined spend for peace. No better example exists than the protest of 750 scientists at the National Institutes of Health who said their basic infectious disease research had been subverted by spending on bioterror research. War interrupts everything: rebuilding our cities, public schools and community colleges, water-works and sewerage systems, housing, mass transit, hospitals, new business start-ups, parks and playgrounds,and the funding of the fine arts.
Lippman went on to give advice that nearly every occupant of the White House has since disregarded: “We are not the policeman of mankind. We are not able to run the world, and we shouldn’t pretend that we can. Let us tend to our own business, which is great enough as it is. It is very great. We have neglected our own affairs. Our education is inadequate, our cities are badly built, our social arrangements are unsatisfactory. We can’t wait another generation.”