Posted 9 months ago on July 31, 2012, 11:46 p.m. EST by slickrjt
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
Occasionally, I like to voice my opinion on this forum. This time - I am copying and pasting an essay I wrote for my recent Sociology class at my college. I encourage responses
---Position Paper: Why We Fight---
“Weakness is provocative. Strength Deters.” -Donald Rumsfeld
It is a disconcerting thought that the fundamental purpose of our nation’s seemingly perpetual state of war might very well be that of maintaining appearances for economic gain. That, of course, is not what we as citizens are told by our elected representatives or by the fourth branch of government – the media. We are instead told of a much grander, idealistic notion of our nation as one of righteous crusaders who have the responsibility involuntarily thrust upon us of defending the rights of the world’s tired, poor, and huddled masses which are yearning to breathe free.
“It is our destiny”, they say.
There comes a point, however, when it becomes increasingly difficult to ignore the incongruity of our nation’s foreign policy. Why is one autocratic dictator our enemy while another is our ally? Such is the case with China and Cuba; both nations are communist with trails of human rights abuses spanning decades but our nation embraces the former while the latter is labeled an enemy of freedom and not worthy of our kinship.
When you strip away the layers upon layers of rationalizations and media sound bites, the reality with which we are left is simply this: our nation’s interactions, both domestically and on the world stage, are not motivated by national interests, but instead by the narrow self-interest of an elite minority with limited connections to the average American citizen. The blood shed on the battle field is overwhelmingly from the lower rungs of the socioeconomic system while the financial benefit of that ultimate sacrifice is immediately snatched by those at the very top.
War is business, and business is booming.
The fact that a decorated general in our nation’s military, former president Eisenhower, warned against a looming buildup of a Military Industrial Complex warrants more than a moment’s consideration. It certainly seems at times that our nation’s war machine has become a beast that can no longer be fed.
The national debt of the United States of America has reached the point where it equals our gross domestic product however even the staunchest political proponent of slashing our nation’s discretionary budget shies away from the notion of seriously reducing its single greatest expense – national defense. Instead, programs such as education, public safety and welfare are selected for the proverbial gallows. The decision to sacrifice these social programs, which are so vital to maintaining our nation’s competitive advantage and improving the lives of millions of its citizens, seems to defy all logic. Certainly a nation needs to invest in the education of its citizenry to ensure continued economic prosperity; that is an academic truth contained in even the most politically conservative textbooks.
Our nation, however, appears to have taken the position that maintaining an aggressively militaristic agenda is of greater importance than maintaining a vibrant focus on investing in human capital. The only explanation that can be offered for such a nonsensical juxtaposition of priorities is that the powerful elite perpetuate the reputation of our nation as a military juggernaut to further their own narrow self-interest and greed. Our democracy, in essence, has become privatized.
It should come as no surprise that this apparent shift in the allegiance of our nation’s elected representatives has prompted the recent Occupy Wall Street movement. When those charged with the responsibility of ensuring the prosperity of all essentially sell their souls to the deep pockets of a few special interests groups, it is wholly appropriate for the masses to rise up in protest.
The premiere issue at this time is simply whether or not it is too late to stop the momentum of this egregious betrayal of our leaders and restore the balance of our national priorities to that which was envisioned by our nation’s founders: a land of the people, by the people, and for the people. In furtherance of this admittedly optimistic aspiration, the first step is to evoke the words spoken by one of our nation’s greatest patriots: President Thomas Jefferson.
“An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will.”
In that spirit, we should consider ourselves lucky to be of our current generation. There has never existed, in all of human history, an era in which information is so readily available to the common man, woman and child. Despite the corporate affiliation of most of the conventional media, such as print and television, there is an informal, “open source” media that is rapidly growing in reach and influence. This is an era in which the individual has an increasing level of access to, and control of, information.
With that newfound access to information, change is not only possible, but inevitable. In Tunisia, for example, the discontent of a nation, embodied in the desperate act of one fruit vendor, sparked a revolution that even a generation ago would likely have been suppressed in its infancy. This time, however, the brutal oppression of an autocratic regime was no match for the collective fury of a population united in purpose, informed by the internet, and organized via social media.
As such, there is hope for the future of our nation. The Military Industrial Complex and its small network of privileged beneficiaries, as entrenched as they may be, are not invulnerable to the will of the citizenry. The fact that we, as a nation, are currently engaged in this conversation points to the increasing disillusionment among many of the status quo. Disillusionment invariably gives rise to frustration and anger, which in turn provide the fuel needed for resolute social action.
Perhaps a generation from now, the grand and idealistic notion of our nation held in the hearts and minds of the American people will continue to be one of righteous crusaders, yes, but that of crusaders of peace fighting valiantly against exploitation and inequality for the benefit of all.
Perhaps they will even say, “It is our destiny.”