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Know Thine Enemy

On our Iraq War's 10th anniversary, here's James Madison:

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. . . . . . . No nation [can] preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

And Anne Gerrels, NPR reporter on Iraq:

"It was a terrible waste of money and lives. You know, Iraqis certainly don't love us any more for what we did there. We really have gained very little. . . . . . The situation is far from resolved. . . . . .The country is sliding more and more into an authoritarian regime. It is a tinderbox waiting to explode again."

Rachel Maddow's new book Drift, cuts to the sources of war, whose billion leeches now suck our very life-blood in this National Insecurity State.

We wouldn't put up with it, except we are always fed a 'Good Enemy.' When everything is a War (on Iraq, on Afghanistan, on drugs, on terror), caution and reason fly out the window.

Maddow tells of her Massachusetts small-town pumphouse, recently enhanced by National Security Dollars. About seven homes are actually on municipal water. Yet the pumphouse's entire half-acre is now ringed by an 8-foot-tall, chain-link, barbed-wire-topped fence, complete with electronically-controlled, motorized gate.

This waste is small potatoes, however, compared with nationwide ultra-high-security office space, enough to fill twenty-two US Capitol Buildings: seventeen million square feet of offices in thirty-three handsome and generously funded new complexes powered up twenty-four hours a day, where an army of nearly a million spies on the world and our homeland. It's as if, says Maddow, "we turned [all] of Detroit and Milwaukee into high-security-clearance spooks and analysts."

Its crown jewel is Liberty Crossing, in Washington's Virginia suburbs-- an 850,000-square-foot complex housing the National Counterterrorism Center. A $30 billion annual intelligence budget boosted by 250 percent has created "a clean, well-lighted edifice, concealed by GPS jammers and reflective windows, where intelligence collected by 1,271 government agencies and 1,931 private companies under government contract is supposedly coordinated."

Will Congress cut this bloated budget? No. Our fear of The Enemy keeps it in place, while schools close, services are cut, and highways and bridges decay to dust.

It is not our enemies who have cut us off at the knees. When you hear of Salina's local economic boon from UAV's, consider that military drones were 5% of military flying vehicles in 2005, and now constitute one-third of the fleet. Consider that they are used for surveillance as well as killing. And consider that they may be tested over Salina.

Our history of bad choices goes back to Ronald Reagan and before. Reagan understood the power of The Enemy and exploited it. He lost his early primaries. No one wanted a misguided cowboy actor for President. Yet, when he proclaimed we were losing the Panama Canal (yet another misguided statement), bellowing "Uncle Sam is not going to retreat with his tail between his legs," he won every one.

Under his presidency, fact-free folk from Paul Nitze (arms control advisor) to William Casey (CIA director) kept him on a hard-right, fear-fueled track.

These ideological predecessors encouraged George W. Bush's Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight to limber their muscles proclaiming Saddam's "mushroom cloud" WMD.

Such baloney can cause great harm. It felled Phil Donahue, the only commercial media critic of the war, who was fired from MSNBC.

To truly know our Enemy, we must avoid deception. Anthony Dimaggio, author of Mass Media, Mass Propaganda, put it well:

"When academics, journalists, pollsters, and politicians. . . . consciously ignore moral challenges to U.S. foreign policy, then [rational dialogue is] difficult, if not impossible. Without such dialogue, it [is] difficult to . . . . challenge and reject official propaganda, misinformation, and lies. On this 10-year anniversary, that dialogue is needed more than ever if [we hope to limit] future wars of aggression." And, I might add, to limit threats to our freedom.

As Pogo said, "We have met the Enemy--and he is us."

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This is an archive page containing all stories published in Kansas Free Press in March 2013. These are listed from newest to oldest.

February 2013 is the previous archive and April 2013 is the next one.

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