In all of America’s 239 years of existence, only roughly 20 of them have been without warfare of some kind. And no, those are not in a row. We’ve had one or two years, here and there, where we haven’t spent our time bombing foreign countries, bayoneting our brothers in hopes of keeping our slaves or invading Canada (that really happened and more than once). We are a warring people. In the 219 years we’ve been raging and waging, we’ve managed to amass the largest military in the history of gatherings where people dressed alike.
(In fairness to us battle-binging Americans, historian Will Durant surmised, in the entire written history of the world, only 29 of them have been without some war somewhere. So we’re still a young country and relatively doing peace longer and more on average than the entire world. USA! USA!)
We throw more cash into defense spending than China, Russia, U.K., France, India and Germany combined. There are only 20 countries on this planet that have a GDP bigger than what we spend on our ubiquitous military. Meaning we spend more on the Pentagon’s budget than 175 nations’ total economic activity and Sen. Lindsey Graham, now squeezed into the lukewarm wading pool of GOP candidates, in all seriousness said this in March: “Here is the first thing I would do if I were President of the United States: I wouldn’t let Congress leave town until we fix this. I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to. We’re not leaving town until we restore these defense cuts. We’re not leaving town until we restore the intel cuts.”
Using the military to ensure military spending increases? How meta, Lindsey.
He’s not an outlier. Rand Paul used to hint toward isolationism but now has plagiarized the party line saying, “For me, the priority is always national defense.” Jeb Bush strangely pledged to rebuild our armed forces. Ted Cruz also thinks the U.S. military is too small and needs beefing up. Marco Rubio: “So to restore American strength, my first priorities will be to adequately fund our military.
And as usual, WWE caricature Donald Trump distilled perfectly what all Republican candidates are actually saying by proclaiming: “There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.”
We have the largest navy in the world five times over and keep on getting into conflicts in landlocked countries. Which is both a reality and a metaphor.
So it should shock no one that Republicans don’t like the deal between Iran and six world powers. They don’t like deals or peace accords; they like defense contractors. They like giant, big-government barrels of pork laden wasteful military spending while tweeting about being fiscal hawks.
Republican voices have one myopic monosyllabic answer to every question on foreign policy: War. And more.
“Republicans simply don’t acknowledge the legitimacy of diplomacy as a tool of American power,” observed Senator Chris Murphy on the tired and cliché GOP reaction to a nuclear deal with Iran. “Democrats have to make a loud, passionate case for diplomacy as part of the way we keep ourselves safe. This is going to be the seminal diplomatic achievement of this administration. It will provide us with our best opportunity to make a case for diplomatic engagement with the rest of the world.”
There has to be a point where the painfully dull process of peace is more desirable than belligerently bombing the hell out of other countries. Where we build instead of annihilate—negotiate instead of obliterate. Where politicians boast about the wars they’ve ended instead of the never-ending ones they’ve started. And most importantly we opt not to destabilize yet another region creating more fertile ground for groups like ISIS to thrive.
We’re living in the middle of the longest (endless) most expensive global struggle ever. This should be that point.
Photo by Jayel Aheram