Liberty & Power: Group Blog
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Mr. Kucinich will be giving a one-hour speech on the House floor tomorrow concerning President Obama’s single-handed launching of the attack on Libya, an attack that, per Mr. Kucinich,"subverted Congress and the United States Constitution."
Go get ‘em, brother.
Amy H. Sturgis
He moved to Sydney around 2003 and began writing spy novels, one of which,"Fatal Weakness," is about espionage and corruption involving China and the U.S. It has been published on the Internet in China. Mr. Yang also contributes frequently to about 10 blogs, including some that run on Chinese portals that receive millions of hits daily.
Prof. Feng said he was sure that Chinese authorities were holding Mr. Yang and expressed concern that they would try to charge Mr. Yang with espionage because he had a foreign passport.
This shows a number of things. One, the American people could not care less about our too numerous to count foreign wars. Second, the American people could not care less that the President, one man, launched the country into war all by his lonesome, in direct violation of the US Constitution. Last, it shows that Thomas Jefferson must be spinning in his grave.
As the great punk band Green Day sang, “I don’t care if you don’t”. Today, circa 2011, it's obvious that nobody cares. America, I fear your liberty is well past its expiration date.
All this reminds me of Professor Joel Spring's work [pdf] on schooling, not least his Education and the Rise of the Corporate State (Boston: Beacon Press, 1972), A Primer of Libertarian Education (New York: Free Life Editions; Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1975) and The Sorting Machine: National educational policy since 1945 (New York: McKay, 1976; updated edition, 1988), books that today's critics of state schooling would do well to read.
David T. Beito
David T. Beito
Spike Lee has reminded us of his longtime, and all too predictable, belief that Cleopatra was black on the occasion of Liz Taylor's funeral. This instantly brought to mind Zora Neale Hurston's pithy retort to similar claims by W.E.B. DuBois:"I resent his putting that Greek slut, Cleopatra, into the same race as me."
I don't have the patience or the time for many videos but I think you'll agree this fascinating TV report is worth the time you'll spend watching it.
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In Fieser’s view, he had simply solved a technical problem that the government wanted solved. What the government did with his “solution” was not his concern. Similarly, legions of other scientists have shrugged off responsibility or even concern for the hideous consequences of their scientific work, most notably perhaps in the development of nuclear weapons. Some take pride in helping to “save American lives,” notwithstanding the suffering and loss of life their creations facilitate among human beings who have committed the crime of being something other than American.
But he concludes,"If the film-makers really want to win over the public to Rand's ideas, however, they are going to have to do a lot more to turn Atlas Shrugged into a complete, coherent work, rather than a truncated half-successful experiment."
On January 17, 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his final presidential speech, which turned out to be his most memorable by virtue of this warning: “In the councils 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.” James Ledbetter makes this speech the fulcrum for his brief but carefully researched and smoothly written book on the military-industrial complex (MIC). He looks into Eisenhower’s past to discover how a five-star general arrived at this seemingly incongruous warning and traces how the idea of the MIC evolved after 1961 as it became grist for a variety of mills.
Ledbetter recognizes the MIC’s fuzzy meaning, but for purposes of his analysis he supposes that “we can approximately define MIC as a network of public and private forces that combine a profit motive with the planning and implementation of strategic policy” (p. 6). For virtually all scholars, it comprises the armed forces and the civilian military leadership, the relevant committees and leadership of Congress, and the private contractors who supply goods and services to the military. Many analysts also include lesser players, such as the leading universities, certain scientists and think tanks, veterans’ groups, certain labor unions, and local politicians whose jurisdictions include military bases or contractors’ facilities.
Although the MIC obviously has powerful and widespread supporters, it has always attracted critics, who indict it on several counts, including wasteful military spending, diversion of government spending from social programs, economic distortions, enlargement of military influence in American society, promotion of a culture of state secrecy, and suppression of individual liberties. Rather than extensively evaluating these criticisms, Ledbetter focuses on the changing idea of the MIC, assessing contemporary arguments about it in the light of criteria suggested in Eisenhower’s speech.
He finds antecedents in several notions advanced previously, including the merchants-of-death thesis, the war-economy thesis, the garrison-state thesis, and the technocratic-elite thesis. These theses retain some pertinence within the MIC thesis.
Ledbetter traces Eisenhower’s concern about military-economic relations back at least to 1930-31, when Ike participated in Army planning for industrial mobilization. Having studied industrial agreements, possible takeovers, and price controls, he was uneasy about such military involvement in the economy. Ledbetter concludes that the “importance of keeping a peacetime separation between business and the military would stay with him for the rest of his life” (p. 51). As president, Eisenhower continued to emphasize “the need for restrained military spending to preserve American economic liberty” (p. 61).
Soon after becoming president, Eisenhower gave his second-most-memorable speech, the “Chance for Peace” address, on April 16, 1953. Stalin had just died, and the president sought to move the United States toward a less menacing relationship with the USSR by proposing measures to promote greater cooperation and trust between the Cold War adversaries. He highlighted the great opportunity costs of ongoing large-scale military preparedness. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed” (p. 68). Although the “Chance for Peace” initiative bore no fruit and the Cold War assumed even more menacing dimensions after 1953, Eisenhower’s concern about its costly distortion of the U.S. economy clearly prefigured the concerns he expressed in his farewell address almost eight years later.
Ledbetter’s attempts to tie down exactly who coined the term “military-industrial complex” proved unsuccessful. Eisenhower’s chief speechwriter, Malcomb Moos, has often been credited, but even though he seemed to have been happy to let people think he had come up with the term, he never bluntly claimed to have done so. Ledbetter’s examination of successive drafts of the speech revealed no unambiguous evidence of who introduced it.
In any event, the term resonated with diverse political groups in the 1960s, including New Leftists inspired by C. Wright Mills’s analysis of the power elite, critics of wasteful military spending, such as Senator William Proxmire, and various antiwar groups. Eventually, the idea of the MIC merged into references to the “warfare state” and the “national security state.”
Over the years, many congressional investigations and other studies have been undertaken of Pentagon contracting and other aspects of military-economic relations in the United States. Serious problems―cost overruns, late deliveries, official and corporate corruption, crony-capitalist bailouts, de facto industrial policy-making, and many others―have been documented again and again. Despite repeated attempts ostensibly to root out these misfeasances and malfeasances, nothing fundamental ever changes in the MIC’s operation. Even now, more than twenty years after the USSR imploded and the Cold War ended, the United States spends more than ever on the military and does so as wastefully and nonchalantly as it did before, with no serious repercussions. Despite a long-standing statutory requirement that the Defense Department be audited annually, it never has been, and cannot be, owing to the sorry state of its financial records.
Ledbetter astutely concludes that “it is difficult to see how the United States would be sufficiently motivated to eliminate the MIC, let alone replace it with something superior. . . . [I]t is nearly impervious to democratic reform” (pp. 202-03). As he notes, the root problem is not so much the wretched performance of contractors and the self-interested actions of implicated parties in Congress and the military as it is the stupendously wide scope of U.S. geopolitical ambitions. As long as the U.S. government continues to perceive a “vital” interest in nearly every place and nearly every dispute in the wide world, any hope of realizing Eisenhower’s dream of cutting the MIC down to size and moving toward genuine disarmament and peace is doomed to disappointment.
[Acknowledgment: This review will appear in the Journal of Cold War Studies, published by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University.]
David T. Beito
Only in America does it take an act of Congress to name a building, but no congressional authorization whatsoever to go to war against a country that has not threatened the United States.
David T. Beito
The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.