By José Niño *
The Biden administration The announcement in mid-April of the withdrawal of US troops appears to be a positive first step in the right direction to end the longest US military conflict to date. Undoubtedly, questions remain about the sincerity of such a withdrawal and whether there will remain a residual military presence under the guise of “counterterrorism” or some type of arrangement with companies. deprived of defense to maintain order in the cemetery of empires.
Looking back, it was rather amusing all the stops the corporate press made to derail former President Donald Trump’s previous attempts to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. The Russian bounty program took the cake as the most prominent news story used to thwart Trump’s wise withdrawal proposal from Afghanistan. On this occasion, the media began to broadcast stories about Russian military intelligence paying militants linked to Taliban bounties for killing Americans and Allied armed forces in the Afghan conflict. In its predictable salvo against the Trump administration, the corporate press made a major stench about this program throughout the 2020 election, adding another chapter to the ridiculous anti-Russian saga.
Oddly enough, once Biden was safely installed in the office, the U.S. intelligence community began to revisit allegations about the bounty program by noting that there was not enough evidence from U.S. military intelligence to corroborate its existence. Whether or not Biden’s withdrawal was politically motivated is subject to speculation.
Beyond the partisan implications of the Afghan withdrawal, one has to wonder whether the previous Trump administration wasted a real opportunity to break with the liberal hegemonic order that the US government has presided over since the end of World War II.
Naive as some observers have been that the Trump administration is operating like a wrecking ball for this international order, including myself, many have underestimated the level of institutional inertia present in the foreign policy bureaucracy. as well as the constant media propaganda designed to foment tensions with the country in power. the class sees it as an adversary.
The election of Donald Trump has offered a tantalizing illusion of hope for non-interventionists and moderators who have questioned the nation-building agendas that DC has embarked on for the past decades. During the election campaign, Trump made the right rumors about the failed Iraq excursions. He even cast doubts on the continued viability of tangled alliance arrangements such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), of which the United States has been a member since 1949.
In Trump’s view, the United States was the primary country to shoulder the bulk of the defense burden under this alliance. Trump’s constant complaints have led to changes in the way countries contribute to NATO. For example, Germany ended up increasing its defense spending in order to comply with NATO requirements.
While Trump’s attempt to get NATO member countries to exert more leverage was solid, it still has not addressed the underlying issue of US involvement in what amounts to a tangled alliance that no longer serves a useful purpose after the dissolution of the three Soviet Union. decades ago. It should be remembered that even Dwight Eisenhower, when he assumed the role of NATO Supreme Commander in 1951, said that “[i]f in 10 years, not all American troops stationed in Europe for national defense purposes have been returned to the United States, so this whole project will have failed.
NATO was originally conceived as a temporary alliance to balance the Soviet Union which would eventually be abolished, not as a permanent security arrangement that policymakers could tinker with to satisfy their desire to spread “universal democratic values.” from America. The former president did not realize that NATO would continue to exist into the 21st century and serve as a tool for the expansion of the interests of the national security state.
Defense is not exempt from the same “ratchet effect” present in domestic politics, whereby crises provoke increased government activity which becomes difficult to reverse once bureaucratic organizations are cemented. Milton Friedman asserted that “[n]”Nothing is as permanent as a temporary government program,” a dynamic present in the modern state of national security. What began as a temporary program later becomes an irreplaceable pillar of public policy. This is the nature of government growth, and no matter what government agency it is, it apparently operates consistently.
We cannot so easily separate defense affairs from economic affairs, since the common denominator of these activities is the heavy monster which is the State. The state dominates both ambitions, with all its faults. For example, the government waste that the average Conservative usually complains about is also present in the defense sector. Indeed, there is nothing special about the government’s defense spending efforts. They are not immune to waste and corruption.
Most advocates of defense spending overlook one of the iron laws of any serious analysis of political economy – Frédéric Bastiat’s concept of the seen and the invisible. What you see are the fancy military toys – the fiscal mess of the F-35 fighter comes to mind. By some estimates, this weapon system has a lifetime price of $ 1.5 trillion. Huge costs aside, such a weapon system will certainly make good Air Force recruiting announcements. Plus, it will give politicians another agenda they can brag about by arguing that spending huge sums of money is the key to keeping America “safe”.
But what is not captured in this whole spending orgy are the many productive goods and services that would have been created under normal economic circumstances. In a world of limited defense spending, taxpayer money would remain in the hands of individuals, after which it would be saved and invested in productive businesses. In Human action, Ludwig von Mises understood how disproportionate defense spending hinders economic development:
All the materials necessary for the conduct of a war must be provided by restricting civilian consumption, using part of the available capital and working harder. The entire burden of war falls on the living generation.
A less militaristic economic policy would improve overall living standards, while excessive defense spending would benefit interest groups at the expense of ordinary Americans. Ending the current state of perpetual war will be a daunting challenge. It is far too easy to say, “Just vote for the right people.” The question which concerns us is deeper. It goes beyond whoever holds a political office at any given time. It is ultimately ideological in nature.
The Trump administration, which was apparently against endless wars, struggled to effect even the most basic troop withdrawal. Much of this can be attributed to the institutional inertia present in the American regime. The rise of the deep state—An inexplicable bureaucracy that has evolved into a permanent shadow government — is not an aberration, but rather an indispensable feature of the current administrative state that is underpinned by an interventionist ideology.
The state of war and the welfare state have grown together. Many of the same social engineering precepts on which domestic policy is founded ultimately apply to foreign policy, in which interventionist fanatics are firmly resolved to keep the regime’s imperialist project intact.
Although Mises was not a pacifist, he understood that Western values such as free speech, free market, could not be spread through the barrel of a gun. In fact, for Mises, constant warfare was one of the catalysts of despotism. Instead, countries could set a strong moral example to follow by practicing limited government and encouraging peaceful trade between nations. In Human action, Mises also observed:
Defeating the aggressors is not enough to make peace lasting. The main thing is to reject the ideology that generates war.
A measured withdrawal from foreign affairs would obviously do a lot to reverse many of the lingering side effects of the misguided foreign adventures of the past century and allow America to focus on its internal affairs, which seem to be tearing it apart for the time being. To get to this point, however, interventionist ideologies must be completely discredited.
Too many innocent lives have perished and billions of dollars have been spent to continue indulging in the pipe dreams of foreign policy lunatics who will bypass any form of responsibility for their wrongdoing.
* About the Author: José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Subscribe to his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook or Twitter. Get his premium newsletter here.
Source: This article was published by the MISES Institute