by David Stockman, Ron Paul Institute:
Yesterday we identified a permanent fiscal crisis as one of the quadruple witching forces arising in October 2017 which will shatter the global financial bubble. Today the Donald is on the cusp of making the crisis dramatically worse by decertifying the Iranian nuke deal, thereby reinforcing another false narrative that enables the $1 trillion Warfare State to continue bleeding the nation’s fiscal solvency.
In a word, the whole notion that Iran is a national security threat and state sponsor of terrorism is just as bogus as the Russian meddling story or the claim that the chain of events resulting from the coup d’ etat fostered by Washington on the streets of Kiev in February 2014 is evidence of Russian expansionism and aggression.
Likewise, it’s part of the same tissue of lies which led to Washington’s massive, destructive and counterproductive interventions in Syria and Libya — when neither regime posed an iota of threat to the safety and security of the American homeland.
To the contrary, all of these false narratives are the cover stories which justify the Warfare State’s massive draw on the nation’s broken finances. We will get to the Big Lie about Iran momentarily, but first it is useful to demonstrate just how enormously excessive the nation’s defense budget actually is, and why the denizens of the Imperial City—especially the neocon ideologues—-find it necessary to peddle such threadbare untruths.
Spoiler alert: Iran has actually never attacked a single foreign nation in modern history whereas Washington has chosen to unilaterally intervene in or arm virtually every surrounding country in the region.
Here’s some historical context that dramatizes our point about Washington’s hideously excessive spending on defense. Back in 1962 on the eve of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the US defense budget was $52 billion, which would amount to $340 billion in today’s (2017$) purchasing power.
Needless to say, the world came to the brink of nuclear Armageddon at a time when the Soviet Union was at the peak of its power and was armed to the teeth. In addition to thousands of nuclear warheads deliverable by missiles and bombers, it had 50,000 tanks facing NATO and nearly 4 million men under arms.
The now open Soviet archives, of course, show that the Soviets had far more bark than bite and never conceived of attacking the US or even western Europe; they didn’t remotely have the wherewithal or the strategic nerve.
Nevertheless, by 1962 false moves and provocations by both sides had created a state of “cold war” that was real. Yet even then, the $340 billion military budget was more than adequate to deter the Soviet threat. Nor is that our view as an armchair historian.
The 1962 defense budget was essentially President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s budget, and it is one that he had drastically slashed from the $500 billion (in today’s dollars) he had inherited from Truman at the end of the Korean War.
That is to say, the greatest general who ever led American forces had concluded that $340 billion was enough. And that came as he left office warning about just the opposite—-the danger that the military/industrial complex would gain inordinate political power and pursue foreign policies which required ever larger military spending.
Unlike standard cold warriors, Ike believed that the ultimate national security resource of America was a healthy capitalist economy and that excessive government debt was deeply inimical to that outcome.
That’s why he balanced the Federal budget three times during his tenure and presided over a fiscal consolidation—thanks to sharply reduced defense spending—that generated an average deficit of hardly 1 percent of GDP. That’s an outcome scarcely imaginable at all in the present world.
Even then, the Soviet empire with all the captive republics that have become independent nations since 1991 (e.g. Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan etc.) had a GDP in 1960 that was estimated to be 50 percent the size of the US. So Ike’s bet was that capitalist growth over time was the ultimate source of national strength; that a healthy domestic economy would eventually leave the centralized command-and-control Soviet economy in the dust; and that ultimately the Kremlin’s brand of statist socialism and militarism would fail.
He was right. Russia today is a shadow of what Ronald Reagan called the Evil Empire. Its GDP of $1.3 trillion is smaller than that of the New York metro area ($1.6 trillion) and only 7 percent of total US GDP.
Moreover, unlike the militarized Soviet economy which devoted upwards of 40 percent of output to defense, the current Russian defense budget of $60 billion is just 4.5 percent of its vastly shrunken GDP.
So how in the world did the national security apparatus convince the Donald that we need the $700 billion defense program for FY 2018—-12X bigger than Russia’s—- that he just signed into law?
What we mean, of course, is how do you explain that—- beyond the fact that the Donald knows virtually nothing about national security policy and history; and, to boot, is surrounded by generals who have spent a lifetime scouring the earth for enemies and threats to repel and reasons for more weapons and bigger forces.
The real answer, however, is both simple and consequential. To wit, the entire prosperity and modus operandi of the Imperial City is based on a panoply of “threats” that are vastly exaggerated or even purely invented; they retain their currency by virtue of endless repetition in the groupthink that passes for analysis. We’d actually put it in the category of cocktail party chatter.
For crying out loud. Why is Russia considered a threat to the American homeland when it doesn’t even have a blue water navy or any other basis to project offensive power to the North American continent?
Indeed, its “attack” fleet consists of asingle, 40-year old smoke-belching aircraft carrier that could never get out of the Mediterranean bathtub ringed by overwhelming US forces.
Beyond conventional offensive power there is the non-power of its 1500 or so deployable nuclear warheads. Whatever you may think of Vlad Putin’s kleptomania and hard-edged suppression of internal dissent, he is surely the “Cool Hand Luke” of the modern world. Do you think he would be rash or suicidal enough to threaten the US with nuclear weapons?
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