America’s Role as the Imperial Core is What’s Causing the Growing Misery, by Rainer Shea

Protest against US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.

Image by Fibonacci Blue via Flickr

by Rainer Shea
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Rainer Shea: Anti-Imperialist Journalist, Dec. 14, 2020
December 17, 2020

As I see the United States become ravaged by globally unsurpassed amounts of pandemic deaths, along with unemployment, rising mental illness, growing hunger, and evictions, I keep thinking back to one of the books that I read during my politically formative teenage years: Addicted to War by Joel Andreas. In its updated 2002 version, it observed how war was draining the country’s resources, with the U.S. having been set to spend an unprecedented $396 billion on the military during the fiscal year of 2003. “Since 1948 the U.S. has spent more than $15 trillion to build up its military might,” it says. “Just how much is $15,000,000,000,000 worth? It adds up to more than the cumulative monetary value of all man-made wealth in the U.S.”

“In other words,” it continued, “the government has spent more on the military over the last four decades than the value of all the factories, machinery, roads, bridges, water and sewage systems, airports, railroads, power plants, office buildings, shopping centers, schools, hospitals, hotels, houses, etc. in this country put together! If the add up the current Pentagon budget, the nuclear weapons budget of the Energy Department, the military portion of the NASA budget, foreign military aid, veterans’ benefits, interest payments on debt incurred by past military spending and other military-related expenses, the U.S. spends over $776 billion a year to feed its addiction to war. That’s over a million dollars a minute!”

A very conservative modern equivalent to this calculation puts this next year’s annual U.S. military spending at $934 billion. And to get a sense of perspective on just how much U.S. military spending has increased since 9/11, the U.S. has spent $13.34 trillion on the military between 2000 and the 2019 fiscal year. During the two decades when U.S. wealth inequality has increased to a higher level than in almost any other developed country, when household debt has reached unprecedented levels, and when the lower classes have experienced a drastic economic downturn that for them hasn’t gone away since it started in 2008, the military has come to suck up wealth at a rate dramatically higher than had been the norm prior to the 21st century. And even in that earlier era, the war machine’s impact on infrastructure and social programs was severe.

The contradictions of imperialism are what have brought the country to the painful, frightening spot that it’s now in. It’s because of the country’s role as the core of global imperialism that U.S. child hunger has increased by 14 times in the last year, why thousands of newly impoverished U.S. families have been lining up in their cars to get donated food, and why 14 million Americans are likely to be evicted after the end of this year. It’s why 300 thousand people in the U.S. have died from Covid-19 as of now, far more than the deaths that any other country has experienced. It isn’t because the government is naively inept when it comes to protecting the masses from crises like this one, it’s because the government is designed with feeding the war machine as its foremost priority alongside protecting corporate interests.

These are the results of the country’s decision to place itself at the center of imperialist interests after World War II. These are the results of our complicity with this arrangement throughout these last few generations. The empire has hollowed itself out, privatizing and cutting healthcare, reducing food stamps and welfare even under Democratic and Republican administrations alike, and dismantling the institutions that can protect people from predatory bank and corporate practices. Now a new Great Depression, worse than the last, has come to show what the consequences of neoliberalism—which let’s not forget is a byproduct of the U.S. empire’s decline—would be.

Careful observers were able to see beforehand that with the ways U.S. imperialism was increasingly leaving its own population behind, a major shock to the system would produce catastrophe. The empire’s own military analysts are among those who saw this coming. Just last year, a Pentagon report warned that “Climate change is introducing an increased risk of infectious disease to the US population. It is increasingly not a matter of ‘if’ but of when there will be a large outbreak.”

This reflects the prevailing attitude that military experts have been taking within their memos on the country’s near future: an explosion of unemployment, poverty, and pestilence is inevitable, so all the U.S. government can do is prepare to crack down on any potential uprising through effectively putting much of the population under military occupation. It’s been a shared assumption among these military experts that neoliberal austerity won’t be undone, that our society’s process of ever-widening wealth inequality will inevitably continue for the foreseeable future. This is because U.S. capitalism has been experiencing such a persistent trend of diminishing returns in recent decades that the ruling class has no choice but to foist the costs of the system’s crises onto the lower classes. Screwing us over even more is their only hope for keeping profits up during this increasingly unstable period.

Because of these conditions of 21st century capitalism, a “New New Deal” won’t come to save us. Our situation of declining living standards, public health crises, and repression from a militarized police state will only get worse for as long as the United States exists. But those of us who’ve studied Marxism and decolonial theory don’t look at this situation as cause for despair. We see it as yet another vindication of the fact that’s acknowledged by all communists: the capitalist state will never work in the interests of the people, and the people therefore won’t be free until they overthrow the capitalist state.

The fact that America’s role as the imperial core is what’s causing the growing misery we see around us represents a severe heightening of the contradictions of imperialism. If we Marxists can get the masses to understand this, to see that the U.S. empire’s existence is what’s created the country’s war machine and that the country’s war machine is what’s plunging our society into darkness, we’ll have spread an extremely powerful truth. A truth that will persuade a lot of people to join our cause of anti-colonial, proletarian revolution.

Rainer uses the written word to deconstruct establishment propaganda and to promote meaningful political action. His articles can also be found at Revolution Dispatch.

If you appreciate my work, I hope you become a one-time or regular donor to my Patreon account. Like most of us, I’m feeling the economic pinch during late-stage capitalism, and I need money to keep fighting for a new system that works for all of us. Go to my Patreon here. Follow Rainer on Twitter, Youtube and Medium.

From the archives:

America’s Sick Priorities, by Finian Cunningham

The Most Lethal Virus Is Not Covid. It Is War. by John Pilger

Why the US is Doomed, by Finian Cunningham

The U.S. Ruling Class Will Never Allow America’s Wars To End + Neoliberalism Is Going To Keep Us In A Perpetual Health Crisis, by Rainer Shea

The Top Driving Force Behind Wars Is The War Industry, by David Swanson

16 thoughts on “America’s Role as the Imperial Core is What’s Causing the Growing Misery, by Rainer Shea

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  11. The US DoD Budget when Eisenhower delivered his Cross of Iron speech was $60 Billion.
    Today, thanks to Trump, it’s $740 Billion.

    Trump said, “I’m not saying the military’s in love with me. The soldiers are.”
    “The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”

    That’s what he said!
    What he DID, was give all “those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes” more money than ever before.

    Imagine the Good that could be done for Humanity, if the US Leadership of the allegedly Most Christian Nation on Earth and the BIGGEST supplier of the Weapons of Death and Destruction to the World, would see this one most important line in their Bibles should be preached from the roof tops,
    “Not by military force and not by physical strength, but by My spirit,’ says the Lord of Hosts.”

    The Christ in them must be so weak, they don’t have the Faith or Courage to exhort the sheep from their Pulpits, to at least raise their voices, and prepare the Way for the return of Christ Jesus when he shall Finalize it, and judge between the nations and reprove many peoples, and they shall beat their swords into plow shares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

    If they did that, it would be considered Political, and they could lose their Tax exempt status.

  12. Excerpt from General-President Eisenhower’s ‘Cross of Iron’ speech, delivered April 16, 1953.

    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

    This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
    The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.
    It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.
    It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.
    We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.
    We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

      • Ike’s “Cross of Iron” speech is not dissimilar to William Jennings Bryan “Cross of Gold” speech delivered July 9, 1896.

        There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it. […] Having behind us the commercial interests and the labouring interests and all the toiling masses, we shall answer their demands for a gold standard by saying to them, you shall not press down upon the brow of labour this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.

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