When “The War on Terror” started I said, mark my words, this is going to make the “War on Drugs” look cheap and effective.
Sadly, if anything, it was an understatement. I wasn’t blogging then so my words of wisdom weren’t recorded for posterity. Of course in the climate of the time, I would have been pilloried for daring to suggest that George Bush’s crusade to rid the world of evil could possibly be anything less than ordained by God himself. What’s he doing now anyhow? (George Bush that is, God has been AWOL for millennium.) There’s no need for a dedicated post on American Exceptionalism, it’s all around us all the time. Back on point, yes, there is a point to this madness. It’s now become clear that the “War on Terror” has fuelled one of the greatest expansions of bureaucracy in the history of the world. Washington now has enormous complexes of pencil pushers devoted to fighting terror world wide! Yes, the war on Terror is centrally planned. We are using old style soviet socialism to fight terrorism, odd that, eh? The point is that a centrally planned “War on Terror” makes about as much sense as a centrally planned economy. In other words, it’s doomed to fail.
The evidence for this is on the street so to speak. There have only been a handful of attempted “terror” attacks on the USA recently, and they were all foiled by the man in the street. Just like on 9/11, the only attacking plane that was stopped was the one where the passengers fought back. Terrorism is a very diffuse threat. This isn’t like World War Two where our enemies were directed from Berlin and Tokyo, and were fielding huge armies against us. There are hundreds of insurgent groups (not to mention governments and quasi-governments) that might attack American interests, though for the most part as long as we stay out of it they have no interest in fighting the USA. So a terrorist attack (remember, terrorism is a tactic not an ideology) can come at any time anywhere. If the USA was the size of say, Israel, maybe it would make sense to build a wall around the country and protect every inch of it from attack. Well, it’s not, so that option is simply not feasible. (Actually, it’s not feasible for Israel either, but that’s besides the point.) So this giant, and I mean giant, pushing $100 billion dollars a year, collection of terrorist fighting agencies in Washington is one huge stinking pile of wasted money. No one could possible read the 50,000 annual secret reports generated by these various agencies, let alone collate them into some sort of coherent whole.
This what I mean when I refer to the USA as a Byzantine Empire. And what I mean by that is amazing amounts of spending on incredibly intricate obsolete and useless things. We have the greatest military the world has ever seen, designed for two things. Refighting World War Two and fighting a nuclear war. The first is never going to happen, our enemies aren’t that stupid, and the second is a lose-lose proposition no matter what … and thus just as unlikely as another World War Two. In other words, all this mind numbing military and anti-terror spending is making us about as safe as the Maginot Line made France from Nazi Germany. And like the Maginot Line, it’s sucking up huge amounts of money that could be making us safer. Or more accurately, could be making America wealthier, stronger, and more fit. Infrastructure, health care, education, sustainable energy, … these are the sorts of things America needs and should be spending money on, not giving endless piles of money to generals and bureaucrats in a chimeric quest to achieve perfect security. And I’m not advocating simply surrendering to Al-Qaeda. I’m advocating using our God-given brains to defend America. There’s all sorts of ways to make ourselves safer from terror than throwing buckets of money at corrupt generals and bureaucrats. That however is a topic for another post.
And yes, this post was inspired primarily by the Washington Post series Top Secret America. This recent series is just another one of those things, like the oil spill, or Obama’s war in Afghanistan, that people should be marching in the streets over. Hell, truly democratic governments have been brought down by scandals like any of those three, but not in the USA where “accountability” isn’t even in the dictionary anymore. I guess that what astounds me most about modern American, there seems to be no limit to the corruption, waste, and ineffectiveness that characterizes our “leaders” in Washington. I mean, in any historical sense it’s unprecedented, yet the only thing Americans get excited about is Lady Gaga.
(The above image is Public Domain as best I can tell, having been produced by the US government and not classified as secret. This flow chart was produced with our tax dollars to explain the situation in Afghanistan. It makes it all crystal clear, nu? Like I said: Byzantine.)