Everyone has watched one of the best TV series of all-time M*A*S*H. You also know the tune that played during the opening credits as helicopters delivered wounded soldiers to the 4077 Mobile Army Surgical Unit. Most people have never heard the lyrics that go with the music. The song is Suicide is Painless and the lyrics were sung during the M*A*S*H Movie. As I watched the movie a few weeks ago, the lyrics struck home. Our country has been slowly committing suicide for the last 40 years. The movie and TV series were set during the Korean War. It is fitting that military spending is one of the major causes of our suicide as a nation. On an inflation adjusted basis, the US has doubled spending on Defense since 1962. It is on course to rise another 20% in the next four years. Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about the military industrial complex in 1961:
"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."
The fact that the US currently spends 7 times as much on Defense as the next nearest country is proof that the military industrial complex has gained unwarranted influence and a disastrous rise of misplaced power has occurred.
When you critically analyze why we would need to spend 7 times as much as China on military when there is no country on earth that can challenge us, the answer can only be OIL. Our own military came to the following chilling conclusion in their Joint Operating Environment report, issued earlier this year:
By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 MBD.
A severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive expansion of production and refining capacity. While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China and India. At best, it would lead to periods of harsh economic adjustment. To what extent conservation measures, investments in alternative energy production, and efforts to expand petroleum production from tar sands and shale would mitigate such a period of adjustment is difficult to predict. One should not forget that the Great Depression spawned a number of totalitarian regimes that sought economic prosperity for their nations by ruthless conquest.