Tuesday, April 5, 2011

We Bought It (And It Makes Me SICK)

From Foreign Policy:
"Having scratched and clawed to get themselves on the inside, the people who run our foreign policy are not likely to counsel restraint, or to suggest that the United States and the rest of the world might be better off if Washington did a bit less. After all, what's the point of being a big shot in Washington if you can't use all that power to try to mold the world to your liking?  
Compared with most Americans, this is a wealthy, privileged, highly educated group of people and most of them are personally insulated from the consequences of the policies they advocate (i.e., with a few exceptions, their kids don't serve in the military...). Advocates of intervention are unlikely to suffer severe financial reverses or face long-term career penalties if some foreign war goes badly; they'll just go back to the same think-tank sinecures when their term of service is over.
By the way, lurking underneath the Establishment consensus on foreign-policy activism is the most successful Jedi mind trick that the American right ever pulled. Since the mid-1960s, American conservatism has waged a relentless and successful campaign to convince U.S. voters that it is wasteful, foolish, and stupid to pay taxes to support domestic programs here at home, but it is our patriotic duty to pay taxes to support a military establishment that costs more than all other militaries put together and that is used not to defend American soil but to fight wars mostly on behalf of other people. In other words, Americans became convinced that it was wrong to spend tax revenues on things that would help their fellow citizens (like good schools, health care, roads, and bridges, high-speed rail, etc.), but it was perfectly OK to tax Americans (though of course not the richest Americans) and spend the money on foreign warsAnd we bought it. Moreover, there doesn't seem to be an effective mechanism to force the president to actually face and confront the trade-offs between the money he spends on optional wars and the domestic programs that eventually have to be cut back home. "