If you want to limit government, you have to limit the Pentagon. Period. Because as Randolph Bourne warned long ago, "war is the health of the state."
Moreover, advocating for war, mongering for war, apologizing for war — these are the health of statism. Nothing else can so make an otherwise libertarian mind tolerate the wholesale theft of taxation and inflation. Nothing else can so make an otherwise skeptical mind, wary of environmentalist hysteria and bad economic thinking, trust the state with his liberty and money and the lives of thousands of others. Nothing else can so lead a person who claims individualism to favor the mass butchery of innocent people he'd have no quarrel with otherwise. And while it is sometimes tempting to favor and difficult to oppose, nothing else destroys property like war. Nothing else threatens liberty like war. Nothing else dispenses with lives like war.
[W]hen it comes to the Department of Defense [conservatives exhibit] something worse than a mere blind faith in government: The Pentagon has become their church.
And apparently that department’s collection plate is never full.
Like virtually every other federal department, the Department of Defense has become yet another inefficient, self-serving and special interest-laden mass bureaucracy, which not only characterizes big government–but the expense of which dwarfs almost every other department conservatives regularly target. Just like most of the Department of Education’s functions have less to do with actually educating America’s children and more to do with serving teachers unions and other special interests, most of the Defense Department’s functions have less to do with actual defense and more to do with serving special government, corporate or ideological interests.
Many Americans today can’t imagine how our school system existed before the Department of Education, yet this department wasn’t created until 1979. Similarly, Americans can’t imagine a time before there was a "permanent armaments industry of vast proportions" and simply assume the monstrous military bureaucracy we endure today is part of a necessary and proper defense.
Of course, the military-industrial-complex is with us today in full force. If conservatives were to apply the same skepticism toward the Pentagon they do every other government department, they might ask: Is it necessary to have troops stationed at 750 bases in 170 nations around the world? Has the Iraq war been worth the cost? Is continuing to engage in Afghanistan in our best interest? Does the limited threat posed by potential terrorists justify the unlimited amount we currently spend? Does invading and occupying nations for decades do anything to actually reduce this threat? Does this do much to encourage the threat? How much of our military spending even targets the threat? Reports the Washington Post: "The challenges posed by terrorism, cyber-threats and military buildups by potential adversaries clearly play a role in shaping our national security strategy and defense budget. But so do competing government priorities in the face of limited resources, political and bureaucratic interests, and the influence of the defense industry. At times, these issues overwhelm security concerns."
So-called "defense" spending is the big government conservatives tend to love, and the degree to which they refuse to ask questions about foreign policy or wholly trust Washington leaders with such policy, is indicative of conservatives' comfort with this particular brand of statism.
In the same way that so many on the Left consider the post-New Deal state an integral part of liberal identity, many on the Right have come to consider support for the military-industrial complex inherently conservative, often conflating the plight of "the troops" with the agenda of a military bureaucracy that regularly abuses our soldiers. Naturally, most military personnel or those who identify with that culture, need to believe the tasks they are assigned serve some greater good, particularly given the sacrifice they might be asked to make. That our government might often put America’s soldiers in harm’s way for questionable or unjustifiable reasons is tough to fathom-so conservatives simply don’t consider it.
In preferring to remain in the dark, conservatives substitute patriotic slogans and jingoism for trenchant national security analysis. In this state of willful ignorance, our foreign policy becomes sacrosanct and militarism becomes orthodoxy-giving the Department of Defense carte blanche and with it, unchallenged and unparalleled government power.
What I personally find most troubling is, "the degree to which [conservatives] refuse to ask questions about foreign policy or wholly trust Washington leaders with such policy." Seriously ... WHY?
After all, these are the same "leaders" who brought you nationalized education, socialized prescription drugs, porno-scanners at the airport, and put you over $200 trillion in debt among other usurpation's of your liberty ... You do realize this, right? Then why in the hell do you trust them with unlimited military powers?
It simply doesn't compute.
Despite killing 4,439 of our American brothers and sisters, and wounding 32,000 more (16,000 of which will need care for the rest of their lives), Osama bin Laden has not been brought to justice while the Taliban remains as strong as ever. Think about that. 4,439 dead Americans ... so much for being "pro-life," huh?
War is not glorious. War is failure. War destroys lives, property, economies, and liberty. War is anti-family, anti-freedom, and pro-state. War is collectivist. War is progressive. War is the health of the state.