Where’s the peace dividend?

First the Berlin Wall came down
with East and West Germans together taking sledgehammers to the icon of the
Cold War. Then there was the night when the hammer and sickle came down from
the Kremlin and the Russian flag was raised in its place. The Soviet Union, the
“Evil Empire,” was no more. People would now be free.

The cold war was over and there
was talk of a peace dividend. Peace. No more fear of the bomb or mutually
assured destruction. Whatever happened to that peace dividend, all the money
and personnel resources the United States was going to save with the
dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end to the Cold War? It was in all the
papers so it had to be real, right?

Apparently not right. The peace
dividend we were promised never materialized. Our military budget today is more
then twice that of the country with the second highest spending and more than the spending of many other countries
combined.

Governments need an enemy, a
target for their people to fear or hate. There was Iraq invading Kuwait and the
US had to go to war. There was Bosnia and Somalia and the first bombing of the
World Trade Center. Then came 9/11 followed by Afghanistan and a second war
with Iraq. Now we bomb for so-called “humanitarian reasons” as in Libya.
There’s talk of Iran and Syria being next.

The result: People on the left
and right cling to government through fear of terrorism and our basic liberties
have been trashed. Federal agents can write their own search warrants because
of the Patriot Act and now there’s the potential of unlimited detention of US
citizens because of the National Defense Authorization Act. Making matters
worse is that there are now airborne drones flying here in the US, drones that
are capable of carrying weapons as well as cameras as they fly over US cities.

Apparently the truth of the
nonexistent peace dividend lies more in a statement rarely printed in the
papers, mentioned on TV or used anywhere within or by mainstream media: “War is
the health of the state.”

The statement is from Randolph
Bourne, a U.S. progressive from the late 19th and early 20th
century. He was writing in response to the bloodshed of WWI. The idea is that people give up everything
to government power when they feel a threat, real or imagined. They don’t
realize the power lingers long after the war ends — if it ever ends. It usually
just changes target.

It’s Bourne’s observation that
answers the question. The peace dividend was eaten up by the statist mentality
that war, any war, is valid so long as it keeps the political class in power,
the people dutiful.

Wars and their threat breed
fear and fear breeds dependency on, and loyalty to, governments, even when the
dependency is unwarranted and the loyalty undeserved.

People didn’t count on Bourne’s
truism. Add that to Lord Acton’s observation on the corrupting influence of
power and we have the mess we have today, the ungoverned governing the
governed. The peace dividend disappeared as quickly as a government cash
surplus, as quickly as a campaign promise.

About CFLive Staff

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