22 Ways the MIC is Just Another Entitlement Program
The Military Industrial Complex in the News
Last Friday the Associated Press released this video about East Orange, New Jersey. Previously crime-ridden, suffering from gang violence and urban blight, East Orange recently became proving grounds for high tech pre-crime technology, courtesy of the federal government.
From nearly a mile away and controlled remotely from the comfort of either a surveillance station or a squad car a bright red beam of light fixed above a video camera can instantly bathe anyone suspected of possible criminal activity. Aaron Dykes of InfoWars.com breaks it down. While this is an astonishing development it is unfortunately a typical domestic attendant of our national security posture.
Last September while covering a debate between libertarians and neo-conservatives I highlighted one of the most glaring inconsistencies within conservative dogma. While on one hand, with regard to social welfare, conservatives spit incendiary rhetoric at nearly every encroachment by the federal government; on the other, in foreign policy they applaud almost identical invasions (pun intended).
Why is there is no cry from so called conservatives for restraint when our National Security Budget for fiscal year 2012 is estimated at $1.2 trillion, $185 billion of which is in interest payments alone? It is because Eisenhower’s infamous Military Industrial Complex (MIC) is not dissimilar to its sprawling domestic cousins – a burdensome and ineffectual entitlement program with teeth. The MIC provides an entitlement in four ways, from September’s article:
“…First to those presidents [and politicians] whom wield its power for political gain either through victory or diversion, second to those military and intelligence commanders [and bureaucrats] whom direct massive swaths of tax payer dollars to influence world affairs, third to a high tech industry addicted to generous government injections and [fourth] to foreign entities whom ‘invite’ our intervention and therefore defense subsidization in order to accomplish what they cannot [or will not] on their own.”
By no means is this list exhaustive. As John Stossel recently points out on his Fox News program the noble foreign policy goals, which our Dear Leaders burden themselves with know no bounds.
The American public wants a lot from their military and considering they pay $1.2 trillion per annum, a lot is to be expected. But as we have seen in the case of East Orange, local law enforcement has become militarized and it isn’t the first time pre-crime technology has been in the news. Pre-crime software has been used in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. to route future criminals for months!
Militarization of Law Enforcement
Much of these developments fall under what I term industrial blowback, the unintended allocation and consequences of our military’s equipment and or expertise. For example, a local New York CBS News affiliate just days ago reported the NYPD experimenting with drones over the city. It might seem reasonable at first; New York City after all is one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas. The problem is, drones are being used in rural areas as well and not just to protect the border.
Last December a North Dakota family was arrested with the help of a Predator drone for ‘stealing six cows’, which evidently kept wandering onto their land; pretty expensive toy for such a remote area. These aren’t isolated incidences, there are scores of other examples of our military’s tools being used at home namely a field-tested surveillance blimp previously designed to help troops in Iraq conduct door-to-door raids. If you’re a resident Ogden, Utah you might have already seen this little beauty flying over your Sunday BBQ.
The fifth entitlement recipient is obviously local law enforcement and like any welfare queen it is quickly becoming addicted to government largesse. Faced with addiction the best thing to do now is: Step One, Admit There’s a Problem. Unfortunately, as is most often the case, intervention is all that is left. In many ways this explains the rise in the protest movement and protest candidates like Ron Paul. However, while the protester may have been Time Magazine’s Person of the Year and Ron Paul is more popular than ever our national security infrastructure is still metastasizing, as there has been no real anti-war (or its anti-police state ancillary) movement since the election of Barack Obama exposed it as largely anti-Bush.
Where have they gone and why? Obama has yet to come through on closing Guantanamo Bay, we are still mired in Afghanistan after 10 years, still involved in regime change and the Transportation Security Administration is still busy reaching in our pants and they have left the airports too. Toting their backscatter x-rays among other things onto American highways, beta testing their V.I.P.E.R. teams, testing their F.A.S.T. technology at large public events and still flouting the Constitution, just ask Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). On Monday TSA agents detained him on his way to the Senate in brazen violation of not only the 4th Amendment, but also his privilege as a Senator from arrest before a vote in Congress.
Sen. Paul may be awake and speaking out against the growth in our police state, but it has been evident watching the endless GOP debates that mainline conservatives weren’t influenced by the Washington Post’s two-year investigation exposing Top Secret America. This amazing series details how politicized and privatized our national security infrastructure has become.
Since 9/11, 854, 000 people now hold top-secret security clearances, 33 building complexes have been built for top-secret work, the equivalent of almost 3 Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – nearly 17 million square feet! The most shocking statistic testifies to an inherent conflict of interest. Apparently over 265,000 private contractors retain top-secret clearances; our government has effectively incentivized creating enemies! But do they actually create real life straw men? There is evidence. Judge Andrew Napolitano on Fox News exposed the FBI for as much in this video, a must see.
Still not convinced ex administrators like Homeland Security’s Michael Chertoff are raking in millions after building up their own entitlement nest egg and slipping into the private sector to reap the rewards? Below, I expand on John Stossel’s list and show how foreign policy hawks turn into central planners right before your eyes. According to Stossel: “People Want The Military To…”
- 6. Keep Oil Cheep – As I have argued before oil may in fact be abiotic, in other words it is not a fossil fuel and in fact renewable. This would clearly undermine the Peak Oil theory, but that’s an argument for another day. However, as OilPrice.com recently covered, America has the largest oil and gas reserves on the planet! Instead of fighting in the Middle East “conservatives”, libertarians and independents should fight job-killing pseudo-environmentalists here at home. While cheap oil is what Americans want invading armies merely create more instability and therefore higher prices. The entitlement – not only the high gas prices and record profits for oil companies, but establishing a false scarcity providing the environment for green energy subsidies to flourish weather they are justified or not. Peak Oil theory sure makes for strange bedfellows…
- 7. Contain China – The Defense Department really hasn’t done a good job of this at all. Take Afghanistan for example. Evidently it not only harbors terrorists, but nearly $1 trillion in precious metals too. Unfortunately we lost the opportunity to develop Afghanistan’s biggest copper deposit to, you guessed it, China. I guess our troops are meant to scurry around the country trying to win hearts, not mines. Next door, the Pakistani government asked China to build the Gwadar deep-sea port, potentially giving China broader access to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. If that wasn’t all, Africa is opening up to the China too. The Seychelles is the newest country to court China for a military base and this time it’s right in the backyard of a not-so-secret U.S. drone headquarters. Want more examples? I’m sure you can find them on your own, HINT: Brazilian oil. The entitlement is obvious – foreign defense subsidies. Evidently it’s a buyers market with two super powers quietly competing.
- 8. Chase Terrorists – We’ve done that for over 10 years, but evidently we’re now in the business of helping them – wait what? CLUE: Who were Libya’s rebels? We also kill U.S. citizens whom are accused of aiding terrorists, as was the case in Yemen when Anwar Al-Awlaki and his teenage son were eliminated by a CIA drone. If that was a touchy subject the NDAA bill made it ok to arrest U.S. citizens without trial. Appalled? Don’t worry the new Expatriation Act will revoke U.S. citizenship if you’re deemed a menace. What!? I thought I read somewhere all men were created equal and with certain unalienable rights? Maybe terrorists aren’t human then, that must be it. The entitlement – perpetuating fear, a war that by definition can never end and expanding Executive power.
- 9. Train Foreign Militaries to Chase Terrorists – Danger Room, Wired.com’s national security blog, just reported we have new clandestine commando team operating near Iran, known as Joint Special Operations Task Force-Gulf Cooperation Council, JSOTF-GCC for short. They are responsible for training all of our allies in the Middle East and even Blackwater’s newest guise is still winning big contracts. To understand a little more about our peace president’s Secret Wars here is the Daily Beast. The entitlement – more foreign defense subsidy, reliance on the private/public intelligence apparatus, private contractors, and equipment manufacturers.
- 10. Protect Sea Lanes – Evidently we do more than that. Our Coast Guard has been responsible for not only our shores, but Iranian shores as well. They recently rescued 6 Iranians 50 miles southeast of the Iraqi port city of Umm Qaser. I thought they were called the U.S. Coast Guard not the U.N. Coast Guard. The entitlement – Iranians can spend a little more on domestic concerns rather than their own coast guarding capabilities with the U.S. on the ready.
- 11. Stop Genocide – This is the most compelling argument for intervention, I know it tugs at my heart, but as was the case in East Timor and Darfur unless you have resources crucial to American interests you’re most likely SOL. The entitlement – public relations i.e. “The Global Force for Good.”
- 12. Protect European, East Asian, and Middle East States from Aggression – Don’t they have their own militaries? Also when it comes to rich countries like Australia, Japan, Germany and South Korea why can’t they begin to take care of themselves? The entitlement – a generous tax break for their economies at the expense of the U.S.
- 13. Humanitarian Missions – As I mention above the latest “humanitarian mission” in Libya put into place a dubious regime. The entitlement – you don’t have to have legitimate broad appeal to start a revolution just the right connections.
- 14. Respond to Natural Disasters – We responded to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and to the 2010 Haitian earthquake, which killed thousands and while these efforts are praiseworthy where is the mandate? It isn’t found in the Constitution and the American people are rarely asked to vote on it. Our charity is undeniable in this country; there are many ways of aiding needy foreign nations without involving our military. In the end its our money and our governments should be planning and saving for a rainy day of our own. The entitlement – disaster relief, in other words, national disaster insurance package courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer.
- 15. Secure the Internet – The ultra secret National Security Agency is completing construction of 1.5 million square foot NSA West officially known as the Cybersecurity Data Center in Utah. Regarded by Sen. Orin Hatch as the largest defense construction effort in recent memory. The entitlement – brand new battlefields and weapons a la stuxnet!
- 16. Police the Mexican Border – American’s may want the military to do this, but this is one of the legitimate activities the military is not engaged in.
- 17. Transform Failed States into Democracies – Democratizing states are notorious for being violent. In the end effective democracy is more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner. We’ve been in Iraq and Afghanistan for years and we haven’t come close to achieving the results American’s would consider acceptable. The aforementioned nations are not healthy, peaceful or friendly. The entitlement – public relations, “making the world safe for democracy.”
A few Stossel didn’t mention in closing:
- 18. Opening Markets – We opened the biggest market on Earth not with a missile, but with a ping-pong ball. Richard Nixon’s open door policy was one of his forgotten triumphs. When we have used military force things generally get a little dicey: 1854 Mathew C. Perry forces Japan to trade with the U.S. Touched by power politics by 1904 Japan turns imperialistic and expands its holdings into Russia, China, culminating in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The 1953 CIA backed Iranian coup d’ etat results in the Iranian Islamic Revolution. The 2003 Iraq invasion results in an Iranian Super-state. The entitlement – more problems to fix.
- 19. Policy Leverage – A recent article on Essential Intelligence covered the “crisis” brewing in the Strait of Hormuz, where most of the world’s oil now passes. The dot connectors suspect that this may be in part a ploy to highlight the vulnerability of the strait and therefore muster support for an Arabian Oil Pipeline. The entitlement – further subsidization of international corporations’ adventurism abroad ignoring the emancipating prospect of energy independence at home.
- 20. Support NGO Activity – The rise of non-governmental organizations has been met with both hope and skepticism. Alleviating the burden of nation building, relief, intelligence gathering, etc. from governments saves money, but when these NGOs become guises for politians and their special interests they become a menace. John McCain’s International Republican Institute had its hands all over Libya. The entitlement – first dibs on contracts, information and influence in nation building.
- 21. Direct Foreign Aid – Is the easiest and most obvious form of foreign welfare, most Americans are against it unless a small socialist ethnocracy is the recipient.
- 22. Drug War – Since the Vietnam era nearly every theatre of war has seen an increase in drug activity. It unfortunately is a way of providing funding for covert operations, it provides future leverage against “fri-enemies” and is very often a backdoor through which to pass and garner information. The entitlements are endless – off the books funding, information gathering, immunity, but most importantly it sustains deep state politics a world beyond the purview of our representatives in Congress.