The War That Never Ends.

“Even if it were desirable, America is not strong enough to police the world by military force. If that attempt is made, the blessings of liberty will be replaced by coercion and tyranny at home. Our Christian ideals cannot be exported to other lands by dollars and guns. Persuasion and example are the methods taught by the Carpenter of Nazareth, and if we believe in Christianity we should try to advance our ideals by his methods. We cannot practice might and force abroad and retain freedom at home. We cannot talk world cooperation and practice power politics.”

These words were spoken by former congressman Howard Buffett, old-time libertarian and father of billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

The apple did not land particularly close to the tree. Howard believed in the gold standard; Warren believes in government-manipulated currency. Howard believed in small government existing only to protect the natural rights of man; Warren believes in activist welfare government with tendrils in all walks of life. Howard was anti-war; Warren is decidedly silent on the issue.

But they were both successful investors. So I guess they had that in common.

Anyway, the above viewpoint was once commonly held by conservatives across America. These were the pre-WWII conservatives who did not like to see any government intervention into their lives beyond the local policeman and the Post Office. Then, WWII. Then, Cold War. President Truman passed the National Security Act in 1947, giving us the NSA and Department of Defense – also birthing both the modern surveillance state and the military-industrial complex.

From that time on, the Christian conservatives appealed to by Howard Buffett no longer seemed to believe in salvation by the blood of Christ alone. There was a new confession of faith added to this: Salvation by War. This made a nice little addition to the new confession of faith taken by Christian liberals over 30 years earlier, which was “salvation by government”. War and Government are closely linked. This brought conservatives and liberals together in ways they did not always fully understand.

The above quote from Buffett sounds completely foreign now. The idea that any modern American conservative would suggest cutting back on world American military empire is almost ludicrous. He would be called a liberal by other angry conservatives. The funny thing is that mainstream liberals do not believe in this either. Obama rejected calls to stay out of the Libyan Civil War as “isolationism”, a charge he and his supporters continued to level against opponents to Obama Administration military action throughout his presidency. I call it “peacemaking”, but whatever.

Ron Paul has always believed in putting an end to the military adventures of the US government. He has opened many an eye, including my own. But the vast majority of Americans do not reflect our view. They continue to believe in the value of worldwide American military empire.

THE WAR THAT NEVER ENDS

On Monday, Trump delivered a televised address in which he addressed the now 16-year long Afghan War in which over 7,000 US servicemen have died. During his campaign, he was highly critical of the conflict, calling it a “total disaster” and rightly calling it a major waste of resources. His base agreed with him. The only Republicans upset by this were the Neoconservatives, who railed against the idea of ending a 16-year long pointless war with no achievable objectives.

But what Trump voters did not count on was this: In the course of US government administration, very little ever changes regardless of who is elected. The vast majority of the electoral process is a dog and pony show designed to satisfy voters who think that their vote matters, when in reality all that truly matters is what the Council on Foreign Relations wants. The Democrats and Republicans are merely CFR Team A and Team B at any given time; which is which can be left to your discretion. They disagree on peripheral issues, but on the BIG issues – economy, war, government spending – they march in lockstep. No “respectable” Republicans or Democrats suggest putting and end to the Military-Industrial Complex and endless warfare state. None suggest closing the Federal Reserve and giving monetary power back to individuals. None dare suggest that the doomed ships of Medicare and Social Security be put to rest to avoid further-burdening the already overburdened American taxpayer.

But of course, most Americans are OK with all of this. The Council on Foreign Relations may be in charge, but only because a majority of Americans are ultimately OK with it. CFR Team A and Team B give them what they want, and Americans comply.

Trump was a true outsider to the whole thing. I have no doubt he made CFR types very nervous as he gained steam. But when he took office, he did not eject all the remnants of the corrupt past from Washington DC. Far from it; a huge number of his appointees were former members of Goldman-Sachs and other elite banks with high-ranking members in the Trilateral Commission and Council on Foreign Relations. Other appointees were simply revolving-door bureaucrats who worked for both Bush and Obama. When I began to read the reports of Trump appointing people like this, I knew many of his promises were now on the chopping block.

Sure enough, Trump has doubled back down on the Afghan War. In his address, he promised to send an additional 4,000 troops to the conflict by the year’s end. This is in direct contradiction to what many saw as his stance in the campaign – that is, to simply end the war.

He tried to head off criticism by saying that the USA was done “nation-building” and would merely focus on “killing terrorists”. The problem is, of course, that the USA has not really been doing any nation-building at all. Afghanistan is still a bloody, chaotic mess. What does Trump intend to change about this? We already abandoned nation-building long ago.

My question is this: how many of these 4,000 new troops will end up dying in what is a truly pointless, miserable conflict? Ron Paul has it right: “We marched right in, and we can march right out.” Trump is the Commander-in-Chief of the military. He has that prerogative. He can give the order today and get the troops out tomorrow. Not a soul more has to die for this thing – not from the US military, anyway.

But Trump decided differently. He is applauded by the great mass of Washington politicians for this choice. After all, it is mostly not their own children who will go fight in the war. Risking other people’s children is much less frightening.

CONCLUSION

This seems like the war that never ends. But it will end, eventually, as all things of the flesh must end. Trump has a four-year opportunity to wind this thing down on our own terms. But so far, I am not seeing any indication he intends to follow through on this.

The old-time conservatives were great – essentially libertarian in outlook and deeply suspicious of anyone from the government. But in a fit of fear over the spread of Communism through Eastern Europe and Asia, they sold away their healthy distrust for the military-industrial complex instead. Old-time conservative leadership was replaced by the Neoconservatives, who truly believe in salvation by war, which is exactly what we’re getting plenty of – war, that is. Salvation seems to be a long way off.

Lindsey Graham, up there with John McCain as one of the most useless congressional Republicans, praised Trump’s plan on Aghanistan by saying he was “proud and relieved” with the choice to prolong the stupid war.

We need less Lindsey Grahams and more Howard Buffetts.

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