The Pentagon has a policy which can only be called the zenith of militaristic arrogance and stupidity: “Full Spectrum Dominance”.
As the name implies, the policy’s aim is for the United States’ military to control all aspects of a battlefield—or as proponents of the doctrine call it, the “battlespace”: Air, land, sea, space and cyberspace.
The doctrine’s concept, in its essence, is for the American military to be “better” than anyone else at everything else: The most carrier groups, the biggest nuclear subs, the latest military technology, etc., etc., etc., all of these pieces fitting together to overwhelm—and not merely defeat—any enemy or any threat, be they real or unlikely, or even imaginary. (For the American military’s hunt for imaginary threats, look up Iraqi WMD.)
Of course, a child can realize that “full spectrum dominance” is essentially brawns over brains: The only way you can achieve it is by sacrificing ingenuity, imagination, flexibility and common sense at the altar of Bigness.
The other obvious flaw of “full spectrum dominance” (such a creepily S&M-sounding phrase, redolent of nasty sex-clubs in lower Manhattan) is by throwing money at the “battlespace”—endless amounts of money. Neverending amounts of money. And nevermind where the money for this is coming from.
Having a military that mindlessly embarks on a “full spectrum dominance” doctine is the surest route to bankruptcy. It also sidesteps the key issue:
What is this awesome—literally “awe-inspiring”—military supposed to be protecting?
• Is this awe-inspiring military supposed to be protecting a rich and shining country?
The United States Federal government has a total debt of over 100% of the nation’s GDP, and is consistently running deficits of over 11% year after year—unsustainable levels of debt.
There are huge swathes of America where the cities are rusting rotting hulks: Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland. The are contests judging the best pictures of this decay.
There are places in America—a truly shocking amount—where asphalt roads are being torn up, and replaced with gravel—because it’s cheaper to maintain.
According to the Federal government’s own figures, 44.7 million Americans depend on Food Stamps.
So much for protecting a rich and shining country.
• Is this awe-inspiring military supposed to be protecting a healthy, strong people?
Americans are the most obese people on earth—literally. Estimates put the number of obese and seriously overweight pre-pubescent children at 40%—forty percent of children are obese!—while among adults, it’s close to 60%.
8.3% of Americans have diabetes—a rate four times the rest of the world, a gap ascribed mostly to Americans having poor diets, and being ignorant of healthier habits.
According to the Pentagon, 35% of Americans aged 17 to 24 are unfit to serve in the military because of medical or health-related issues, primarily obesity.
20 million prescriptions for antidepressants were written in 2009, the last year with complete data.
So much for a healthy, strong people.
• Is this awe-inspiring military supposed to be protecting an educated, creative people?
According to the Education Department, 15% of the adult U.S. population cannot read.
23% of applicants to the military cannot pass its entrance exam.
• Is this awe-inspiring military supposed to be protecting a cherished political system?
As anyone with even a casual knowledge of American politics can attest, the degree of corruption in the system is unprecedented.
When I wrote about how former Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff went to shill for the company responsible for the full body scanners at airports, nobody was particularly surprised: The revolving door between government and private corporations spins faster than a jet engine
(BTW, my Chertoff piece got me assigned my very own Homeland Security agent. Not a very capable DHS agent, I might add: He posed as a fan—but then made a trivial blunder that made me realize who he really was. But I can’t help but admit: It’s flattering to have my very own DHS agent monitoring me. Outrageous, despicable, and disgusting, sure: But flattering too. After all, it’s what every writer wants: To write things that scare power.)
The American political establishment goes on and on about democracy, human rights, dignity, self-determination, blah-blah-blah—but then goes and orders the torturing of patently innocent people, the crushing of democratic aspirations around the world, all so as to protect their corporate masters.
It’s no secret that the American political establishment is the best political establishment that corporate money could buy—and it serves those corporate interests well. Why, even the Supreme Court licks the corporate boot that kicks it in line.
• Is this awe-inspiring military supposed to be protecting the sacred rights of the people?
What rights? The people in America have no rights.
If FDR’s Four Freedoms is the template for rights and freedoms—freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of worship and freedom of speech—then Americans have none of them.
Freedom from fear? Every American knows to fear the police, as well as any member of governmental authority: You can be targeted by the police for merely watching them give out a speeding ticket—or as in my case, targeted for writing about public information critical of a former government official.
And if you are fool enough to carry out your moral duty and blow the whistle on government malfeasance—like Bradley Manning did—you get a windowless cell effectively forever, with no possibility of redress, no possibility of seeing your family or friends, no possibility of seeing your lawyer, no possibility even of a trial: Just locked away indefinitely.
Freedom from want? Ask those 45 million people on Food Stamps.
Freedom of worship? Ask Muslim Americans how they’re doing.
Freedom of Speech? Right: Notice how there’s no news coming out of the flooded Fort Calhoun nuclear plant just outside of Omaha, Nebraska. According to foreign news sources, it’s because the Obama Administration has declared a news blackout
So much for protecting “the freest country on earth”.
• Is this awe-inspiring military supposed to be protecting the opportunities of the people?
Ask a 53-year old laid-off worker—white-collar or blue—what opportunities he has to look forward to, as he stares at the yawning chasm between 53 and 65, when he can start collecting his Social Security check.
Ask a recent college grad from a respectable but third-tier university, saddled with $100,000 in debt—a debt that cannot be rescinded even in the case of personal bankruptcy. Ask her what opportunities she has to look forward to, as she looks and looks for a job, finally finding one—miracle of miracles!—at minimum wage as a data processor. (Mind-numbing, yes—but hey, at least she might be able to save enough to afford to move out of Mom and Dad's house to a place of her own.)
• Is this awe-inspiring military making the world love us?
No—in fact, they hate us now more than ever. Don’t believe me? Go to any street corner in any country on earth, and say to the first passing stranger, “I’m an American.” Go ahead—I dare you. I double dare you.
Currently, the American military’s budget is $700 billion a year—not including the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. This is more than the entire military budgets of all other countries on earth combined. The total costs of the so-called Global War on Terror—including the off-books costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions and occupations—come to some $5,700,000,000,000, according to some credible research ($5.7 trillion, if you are confused by all the zeros). That amount is equivalent to the gross domestic product of China.
A great deal of this massive expenditure is for weapons that serve no purpose, and strategies and doctrines that have been superceded by a changed reality.
To take a single example: An intercontinental ballistic missile submarine costs several billion dollars—yet it serves no purpose now that the Cold War is over and the likelihood of an overwhelming surprise nuclear attack from either China or Russia is literally non-existent. Yet those great white elephants of the sea still slink around, for no discernible purpose except pride.
Pride is what is sinking America. Pride—arrogance—vanity—hubris—conceit: Call it what you will, it’s still the same thing.
Arrogance, strictly defined, is “an exagerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities”.
In the peculiar American reality we are living in, the leadership of this country is guilty of the most colossal arrogance—no question.
But the people of America—us—are guilty of a strange sort of arrogance as well: It is not the arrogance of the sort that exagerates our own sense of self-importance or abilities.
Rather, it is the arrogance that exagerates our own sense of self-worth—and from this exagerated sense of self-worth, demands exagerated protection.
Hence we timidly strap on helmets, elbow pads and knee pads when we ride a bicycle to the corner store—terrified we might fall and scrape our precious fat bodies—while we listen to news of American soldiers torturing and killing innocent foreigners without batting an eyelid.
Hence we meekly surrender our dignity and civil rights in the face of any governmental officer, any representative of Authority.
Hence we demand more and more “protection from an unsafe world”, without ever realizing that—insofar as the rest of the world is concerned—we are the danger, we are the threat.
We as a people are so frightened of not merely death but of any sort of damage to our person or property—no matter how minor or trivial—that we have allowed our country to rot and decay, while expecting—demanding—that our military and security apparatus protect us from absolutely everything and anything, no matter how trivial, unlikely, or outright imaginary.
This is how we have achieved Full Spectrum Decay: In our arrogant conceit that we must be protected from anything and everything, we have surrendered all the things that mattered about America. The massive defense and security apparatus we have built to achieve Full Spectrum Dominance indeed does its job:
It fully and completely protects us, while we slowly rot inside our impenetrable shell.
If you are interested, do check out the preview page of The Strategic Planning Group, and see what it’s about.