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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/22/18

US needs to kick Cold War habit and end its addiction to militarism

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The National Defense Strategy unveiled by Pentagon chief James Mattis illustrates once again the revanchist Cold War mindset dominating Washington which is the inevitable expression of the US' destructive addiction to militarism.

More than a quarter century after the official end of the Cold War between the US and the former Soviet Union, Washington has the cheek to label both Russia and China as "revisionist powers."

Policy and discourse dominating Washington shows it is the US that is the biggest "revisionist power," trying to revive ideological tensions and antagonism with Russia and China.

Defense Secretary Mattis declared last week that fighting non-state terrorism was no longer the primary focus of US national security. He said the "great power competition" with Russia and China was the new priority.

Mattis' National Defense Strategy echoed themes contained in the National Security Strategy document published in December, which was signed off by President Trump. The NSS also cast Russia and China as "rivals" and existential threats to America's influence in the world.

As with the NSS paper, Moscow and Beijing condemned the latest Pentagon document as being stuck in Cold War thinking and dealing with foreign relations in an "imperialistic" manner. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said it was regrettable that Washington, "instead of conducting normal dialogue is trying to prove its leadership using such confrontational concepts and strategies."

The blatant reality is that the Pentagon is making a pitch for ever-more federal spending on America's already gargantuan militarized economy. Listening to James Mattis, one might think that the US military is being starved of investment, thus threatening national security.

This is after the US government voted last year to increase annual military spending by $50 billion to a record high of $700 billion. Not even during the Cold War was the US military budget anywhere near the current outlay, according to comparative data cited by respected US economist David Stockman.

The US military budget is about 14 times that of Russia and four times that of China.

Simply put, in order to justify this stupendous largesse with American tax dollars, the Pentagon is compelled, out of logical necessity, to constantly portray the world as a threatening place.

"We are facing increased global disorder, characterized by decline in the long-standing rules-based international order -- creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory," states the National Defense Strategy.

Ironically, as Russian military intervention in Syria helped to destroy a Western-backed terrorist mercenary army, the US is now shifting its rationale for military spending from terrorism to Russia.

It is well documented that the US economy is largely dependent on the military-industrial complex. Over half of the nation's annual discretionary budget is consumed by federal spending on military. This is, in effect, a massive taxpayer subsidized economy driven by militarism. Yet, American capitalism claims to be the paragon of "free enterprise" and "private ownership."

Since the end of the Second World War, the characteristic feature of the US economy is militarism and the military-industrial complex. Arguably, without this annual massive injection of public money, so-called "American capitalism" would collapse.

That's why it is vital for US economic survival, under its prevailing economic system, that the world is constantly presented to the American taxpayers as a threat to national security. It's the equivalent of telling children scary bedtime stories.

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Author and journalist. Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master's graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal (more...)

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