America: Seduced By War
Dr. Andrew Bacevich is a graduate of West Point and a Vietnam veteran. He’s currently a Professor of International Relations at Boston University. His newest book is titled “The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War.”
Bacevich describes himself as conservative, and he says Americans have become seduced by a “military metaphysic.” All international problems are seen as military problems, and inevitably a military solution is always sought. It’s a variation on that old saying: if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
According to Bacevich, up through the end of World War II, America’s military needs were always gauged by the current situation. At the end of all of our major wars – including the Civil War, World War I and World War II – the extra troops raised for that war were disbanded when they were no longer needed.
Since the end of the Cold War, America has valued military power for its own sake. It’s now standard policy to maintain military capacity far beyond that of any adversary or any possible combination of adversaries. The defense budget is now 12% larger (adjusted for inflation) than the average defense budget during the Cold War era.
“By some calculations” (sorry, the author doesn’t get more specific than that) the United States now spends more on defense than every other country in the world put together. There’s no historical precedent for anything like this.
There are American bases and forces in dozens of countries. A lot of these countries are perfectly capable of providing their own defense. In every corner of the world, U.S. forces are training, planning, exercising. This has been standard for so long now that practically nobody – liberal or conservative – gives it a second thought. It’s gradually become the norm, sort of like a huge glaring billboard that you’ve gotten used to and now you don’t even notice it any more.
Bacevich says “Whether any correlation exists between this vast panoply of forward-deployed forces on the one hand and antipathy to the United States abroad on the other has remained for the most part a taboo subject.”
I first heard of Andrew Bacevich through this article, written by Pastor Anthony Robinson.
At some point in our recent history, “religious” leaders began promoting a “Crusade theory of warfare.” This has replaced the earlier doctrine of “Just War.” Under the mindset of the Crusade theory, supposedly “preventive” wars – like the Iraqi invasion – are justified.
This is a carryover from the Cold War. Some conservative religious leaders framed the Cold War as a worldwide struggle between Christianity and godless communism. In order to maintain our Crusade mindset, Islam has now been substituted for communism. Franklin Graham (Billy’s offspring) has denounced Islam as “a very evil and wicked religion.”
Other “Christian” leaders just lash out blindly at anyone and everyone who doesn’t meet their approval. Southern Baptist President Jack Graham has said, “Satan is the ultimate terrorist” and “this is a war between Christians and the forces of evil, by whatever name they choose to use.”
Yup, there’s evil everywhere, and it’s our job to stamp it out.
Ironically, during the third century some Christians splintered off into their own branch (called Manichaeism). This school of “Christianity” divided the world into good and evil, and thought it was the duty of all “good” people to stamp out evil. Manichaeism was branded by the Church as heresy from the time it first reared its head. It blinded people to their own capacity for evil, and it made self-delusion too easy.
As we can see, this Manichaeism school of “Christianity” has been alive and well in America for the past few decades.
Under our traditional doctrine of a Just War, war is considered the last option. In order to be “just,” a war has to meet the following requirements: “just cause” (i.e. self-defense); public declaration of war by a lawful authority; and no ulterior motives (vengeance, personal gain, etc.).
Which of these criteria does the Iraqi war meet?
“Christian” leaders who are pushing this modern-day Crusade have betrayed their faith. Andrew Bacevich – a Christian and a soldier – believes Christianity should serve as a check against the excesses of war and an over-reliance on the military. Christians should not be cheerleading for war.
Cross-posted at Bring It On!