War, Liberty and Prosperity

In my blog entry of October 18, 2010, I discussed how the American Republic was transformed from a democracy to an oligarchy.  So how do we restore popular government?

The strategy I propose for achieving this goal is quite simple.  First, we must end the war policy.  Secondly, we must reform the money system.  In this blog, I’m going to discuss the war aspect.

War is poison to the nation and its citizenry.  Why?

First, war leads to economic ruin as money and manpower is diverted from productive activities that build the economy and raise living standards to destructive activities that serve only to enrich special interests.

As historian Paul Kennedy recounted in his classic work The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, nations spend relatively little on the military as they rise to economic prominence.  This is demonstrated by the rise of Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries, the United States in the 19th century and more recently Japan after World War II.

However, once at its peak, every nation starts to overspend on the military in an effort to suppress rivals and under invests in its real economy.  Britain, for instance, transferred investment from the domestic economy to the military in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as it attempted to forestall the rise of Germany.  The result of this policy was two destructive wars which claimed many British lives and left the nation in poverty.

This phenomena, which Kennedy calls “imperial overstretch”, afflicts the United States today.  While the U.S squanders trillions of dollars in wars around the world, our real economy is hollowed out due to underinvestment.  As a result, wages in the U.S. have declined while the middle class has attempted to maintain itself with unsustainable borrowing.

Second, war concentrates enormous power in a central government controlled by war profiteers and spawns a repressive national security apparatus.  Liberty is swept aside in the supposed interest of public safety.

Consider the toll on citizens’ liberty in the current war:  the suspension of due process, unlawful searches including wiretaps, the establishment of secret prisons and tribunals, official approval of torture and assassination and the rise of a cult of secrecy excluding citizens and their elected representatives from government.

So, the first step in recovering our liberty and prosperity is to end the current war policy.  The U.S. should return to the foreign policy of Washington and Jefferson under which we avoided war and sought friendly relations with all other countries.  This policy enabled us to focus on building the U.S. economy for the benefit of all citizens while preserving our national independence and personal freedom.

In my next blog, I’ll discuss how the current money system, like war, robs citizens of their liberty and prosperity.

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