“President Barack Obama,” reports CNN, “is expected to announce this week that 30,000 U.S. ‘surge’ forces will be fully withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2012.” As the latest installment of the Afghanistan “timetable” chronicles, the President’s speech can be expected to include all of the standard doublespeak bromides about “shifting responsibility” and “achieving our mission.”
Despite all of the White House’s solemn talk of drawdowns and “sustainability here at home,” the changes we’re supposed to regard as big news take place on the narrowest margins of United States foreign policy. Way out on the periphery of the neocolonialist agenda, a negligible tweak here or there is quite acceptable to the state capitalist elite, for whom there is never a real danger.
Policy shifts — even personnel changes — occur within a framework where the underlying assumptions of empire are taken for granted, and where an entire economy has been built upon what Dwight Eisenhower famously dubbed the “military-industrial complex.” For the power elites who formulate foreign affairs, whether Democrat or Republican, “liberal” or “conservative,” the war industry itself — the economic engine driving our endless wars — is as American as apple pie.
Indeed, most of the supposedly “progressive” members of Congress wouldn’t dare question the massive government contracts for the latest killing machines, or the subsidies to research and development necessary for refining those death-dealing gadgets. “Even the radicals,” observed Anthony Gregory, “sometimes mistake neo-mercantilist wars as being in the interest of average American taxpayers … leading to an incomplete critique and a flawed class analysis.”
The war industry, contrary to American mythology, is a systemic fraud offloaded onto working people by and for privileged industries so thoroughly entwined with the state as to be practically inseparable from it. Nothing is a more unblushing affront against anything even approaching a real free market than the defense industry.
As contrasted with a genuine, non-statist free market, one where no one was entitled to thrust his costs onto others, the corporate economy is completely suffused with coercive favoritism. And that favoritism costs ordinary, taxpaying Americans in the billions while, for example, the banksters who finance the war apparatus and the contractors who build it profit.
Further, since the profiteers’ immeasurable infrastructure costs are largely born by the federal government (i.e., our purloined dollars), everything they make is a gain. Through all of U.S. history, the story of war has been a seedy, nepotistic web of alliances between Washington powerbrokers and influential businessmen hoping to make a buck off of “making the world safe for democracy.”
That’s not to say that the ruling class doesn’t buy into its own justificatory canticles to “the American Way,” but nowhere is the state’s ultimate role clearer than in war. Throttling the free market — the unrestricted, voluntary exchange economy — to benefit grasping monopolists has always been the institutional aim of the state.
Market anarchists see war for what it is, an inevitable result of a corrupt and cartelized economic paradigm instituted by the state for Big Business interests. As long as the state continues to dominate and enslave society, its system will always incentivize war as a shortcut to fortune.
By assuming for itself the unilateral power to use force in society, the state’s natural and distinguishing method is the war method. Allowing peaceful, cooperative means of organization to order society through trade and synergy would disrupt the presently existing inducements of war.
The political class will continue to give us these insignificant adjustments around the outer edges of “acceptable” policy. Only statelessness and the nonaggressive choices of self-governing individuals can bring about a true “drawdown” — a final end to needless empire.