Cause and Solution by Brian Bogart
In the counsels of Government, 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. —President Dwight Eisenhower, upon leaving office; January 1961
Pimping the Education System As University of Oregon’s first graduate student in the transdisciplinary field of Peace Studies, it is my task to explore the role of the military in society and those conditions that most promote peace and human welfare. Unfortunately, this task puts me in direct conflict with school administrators, including President Dave Frohnmayer, whose signature appears on my Bachelor’s degree.
There is nothing personal about this conflict, and President Frohnmayer has done nothing out of the ordinary. Like the presidents of more than 300 other universities that conduct research for the Department of Defense, he is simply leading my school into an ever more intimate partnership with America’s military industrial complex.
Why does President Frohnmayer solicit (beg for) funds from the Department of Defense (DoD) to cultivate teaching programs? To compensate for the low priority given to education by the federal government, and the diversion of state funds to the top federal priority, military supremacy. Federal programs that once served low-income people nationwide have been shut down, and the states have had to cut school funding to make up the difference. Schools had to look elsewhere for money, and—bing—there was DoD, handing out big bucks to schools to help develop their weapons projects; projects which (in the absence of non-military funds) cultivate research and mentorship programs in the fields of science, math, and others.
In the old days, universities solicited funds from the state (and the state would provide a slice of its budget). Now they solicit funds from DoD, the Department of Energy, and others connected to the industry of war.
Today the federal government has one main priority: profits through military supremacy. The people are out; the environment is out; the nation’s infrastructure is out; class disparities, education, poverty, unemployment, hunger, they’re are all out. Those in charge are even trying to abolish the food stamp program.
Unfortunately, such an intimate partnership between higher education and the military industrial complex contradicts the inherent purpose of enlightenment (a.k.a. higher education for a better world), as most if not all of these outsourced projects will in one way or another result in the death or disabling of human beings.
The Long War: From NSC-68 to 2005 Before I expand on the costs to our society and the active participation of our schools, it is worth noting that in my 50 years I wrote pen-pal letters asking President Kennedy to take down the Berlin Wall, marched with Martin Luther King, worshipped John Lennon, worked for companies building Trident, MX, and Stinger missiles simultaneous to my involvement with Carl Sagan’s anti-Cold War Space Bridge project, and helped build the B-1 bomber and parts for the Aegis Weapons System (capable of directing 20 missiles at once) on the Ticonderoga-class battle cruiser—much of this while attempting to deconstruct the obvious conflict between what I wanted (peace) and what I needed (a paycheck).
So, I know a thing or two about conscience. But only after three-and-a-half years of intensive research (some 14 years after leaving the defense industry) did I come to appreciate the simple nature of the dilemma confronting a world dominated by a war-driven America, and to identify the opportunity it presents.
A single policy decision made in secluded chambers of the White House shortly after World War II explains why our financial and intellectual creativity focuses on lethal technologies, why 51% of our taxes go to defense and less than 5% to education, why there are 6000 military bases in the United States and 1000 US bases overseas, why comprehensive agendas support war-fighting while weak agendas address human services and the environment, and why our top industry since 1950 remains the manufacture and sales of weapons.
Assessing key indicators in 1947 and ’48, President Truman’s advisors acutely feared an economic collapse back into the Depression, and, as Noam Chomsky points out, there was scant debate among them: “It wasn’t really a debate because it was settled before it started, but the issue was at least raised—should the government pursue military spending or social spending?”
Our dilemma stems from the postwar adoption of a military-based rather than a people-based economy. This policy, authored by Wall Street’s Paul Nitze, is embodied in NSC-68, a document signed by President Truman in 1950. Along with then Secretary of State Dean Acheson, and without any expertise in Russian history or Soviet affairs, Nitze convinced—some say coerced—Truman into recognizing the Soviet Union as an evil and imminent threat, and into signing NSC-68 and launching the Cold War.
After NSC-68 was signed, it needed the approval of Congress. Post-Cold War documents reveal that the Korean War was triggered by Americans and South Koreans for this purpose (Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao and the Korean War, by Sergei N. Goncharov, John W. Lewis, and Xue Litai; Stanford University Press). According to Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution, starting any war against the US is treason if there is evidence that a US citizen took part.
All US military actions from 1950 to 2005 flow from this decision, made without the consent of the American people. There is no fundamental difference between the Cold War and today’s so-called permanent war on terror; perfect fuel for our military-based economy. For 55 years, America has been waging a crime against humanity, a crime for profiteers. I call it the Long War because “permanent” is defeatist.
As satellite photos and extensive post-Cold War interviews have revealed (including interviews with Acheson, Nitze, and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz), no Soviet threat existed in 1950. Whether or not it was a ploy, NSC-68 changed America’s priority from human prosperity to conflict-dependent industry profit.
Paul Wolfowitz (arguably the guiding hand behind the neoconservative takeover of American foreign policy) cites Nitze and Acheson among his role models: “Paul Nitze has had a huge mark on my career over many, many years, starting with 1969, when I was still a very much wet-behind-the-ears graduate student who came to Washington to work with three great men: Paul Nitze, Dean Acheson, and Albert Wohlstetter.”
When the Cold War ended, longtime admirers and associates of Paul Nitze, led by Paul Wolfowitz—mentor to neoconservative leaders Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Richard Perle, among others—immediately began searching for another means to justify America’s permanent war economy.
Plans for today’s war on terror surfaced in 1992 as President George H.W. Bush pulled out of Iraq. Realizing that the follow-up to the Cold War was not playing out according to their expectations, blueprints for re-invasion and global expansion were drawn up by Wolfowitz, Cheney, and Lewis Libby, Cheney’s current chief of staff.
When not promoting fear (“Today we face an even greater threat, an enemy that not only hates freedom; it hates life itself and worships death”), Paul Wolfowitz provides our rationale for the Long War: “This is not about America imposing its values on other people. It’s about America enabling other people to enjoy the values from which we benefit so enormously.”
In other words, our permanent war policy is about imposing our values on others, and at great cost—and therefore thoroughly contradicts the objectives of the Constitution to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.
A war-driven economy requires conflict; there have been more than 200 wars since World War II ended. But those in power today have also retooled our corporate industry (through the weakening of safeguards), our national intelligence agencies (through top-down coercion, firings, and policy changes), and the public mindset (through consolidation of media) to optimize war profits and popularize the notion of the need for permanent war.
Our leaders tell us that our war-driven economy is justified by a “necessary” war on terror. But which came first—America’s global military-economic outreach, or international terrorism? Despite all the protestations from the current administration, terrorism is a blowback of our own policy, and as Chomsky says, the only way to stop terrorism is to stop participating in it.
In the pathological pursuit of profit and power, government and corporations (and university executives) march hand in hand, realizing President Abraham Lincoln’s worst fears.
I see in the near future, a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the republic destroyed.
The cause of our problems—the adoption and maintenance of this Long War idea—is well defined and its proponents are self-identified. We know what the future holds as long as we have leaders who sustain this policy as the engine of our nation.
The People’s Solution To motivate ourselves, we should consider at stake the control and meaning of creativity, for in today’s America, heroes are made of dark insights. In 2004 Paul Nitze was honored for his creativity in the interest of serving peace by having a ship christened in his name. About that celebration, Paul Wolfowitz declared: “to name a destroyer after a living American is an honor bestowed on very, very few people.”
Before he died in 2004, Nitze denounced the war on terror, but Wolfowitz doesn’t talk about that statement. The warriors on terror co-opted Nitze’s Cold War policy to perpetuate America’s war industry—all the better to neocontrol the world and keep “lesser” Americans from power.
Today the Pentagon is pressuring Japan to rescind Article 9 of its Constitution as part of our National Defense Strategy (drafted by guess who). The irony is crushing. Here we have the first nation on Earth to use weapons of mass destruction (the United States) urging the only nation to suffer nuclear attacks (Japan) to re-establish a military and arm itself with nuclear weapons. Why? War is our business, so we make it everyone else’s too. On Wall Street, war is damn good for business. 320,000 companies worldwide depend on war because we have made them dependent on war.
America’s business should be its people’s prosperity. That’s where the Constitution should come into play. The highest office in the land may be the presidency, but according to the Declaration of Independence, the greatest power rests with the people. People is a title above that of President or Secretary of Defense or Attorney General or Doctor or Professor. And I think we can sell this point to a war-torn world and a frustrated American populace.
Peace bears no arms, erects no barriers, and plays not upon the fears of people. Call our foreign policies what you will, but they do not serve peace. In the words of the Roman historian Tacitus, Rome creates a desert and calls it “peace.”
We the people serve neither Rome nor any empire, and in serving peace, we shall neither create conflict nor consent to exchange our rights so leaders may profit. Rather—as written—we are obliged to exchange our leaders so humankind may prosper.
Foreign policy is what a few men make it, and that is terribly wrong. NSC-68 is where America—officially—took the wrong road.
Our rights, as guaranteed in America’s founding documents, rest beneath the deliberate manufacture of war for profit. 55 years of the Long War is long enough. It is time to rise and organize for a peaceful world in the name of the people for whom America was born. If this means modifying the Constitution to prevent the common people from being excluded from decision-making—and to protect the future as life’s sacred common ground—so be it.
For the sake of all life, America must change its priority from industry profit to human prosperity. Every problem you can name has been caused, exploited or exacerbated by this condition. Pass the word, gather, unite, organize nationwide, and strike simultaneously on this single issue.
Brian Bogart worked in the defense industry for 15 years and is now in his fourth year as University of Oregon’s first graduate student in Peace Studies. To help fund and complete his project, IntelligentFuture.org, contact Brian at [email protected]