Sunday, September 01, 2013

Quote of the Day

Stephen M. Walt, from a 2011 article (occasioned by the Libiya intervention) about why America fights so many wars:
[L]urking 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 wars. And we bought it.
I would suggest amending "mostly on behalf of other people" with "putatively on behalf of other people", but otherwise this is right-on.

I will say that I was pleasantly surprised that Obama is seeking Congressional approval for his next little act of war in Syria.  What I haven't quite seen anyone mention yet is that, among other things, it creates both time and a vehicle for the American public (overwhelmingly against this war) to make its voice heard.  This strikes me as a textbook case for classic activism, where calling your representatives might really make a difference.  So let's get to it.

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