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The whole edifice for a liberal vision of society can be constructed by the one need which even most conservatives will acknowledge, and for which they will gladly tax people: national security. If this is allowed, everything else follows. National security requires a robust economy and a durable, resilient political system which assimilates the largest amount of relevant information from all stakeholders and bounces back easily from error.

These in turn require healthy industry and healthy democracy. These in turn require infrastructure, all the laws and regulations that make for a healthy market, education to enlighten workers for participation in both the market and the body politic, civil rights to ensure the participation and motivation of all members of society, a free press to spread information, spending on science to increase basic R&D, social security and health care to fully actualize human potential and to quell the social unrest and political distortions that result from excessive inequality, and so on.

Everything can be seen as contributing to that state of affairs which leads to long-term national security from threats both internal and external. The best warrior must also, it seems, be the best human being. And the most secure human society must be the best run society.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well, duh! (I mean that with utmost respect) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eOz, KafkaWest

    The very power base of our military rests on:

    (1) The ability to out-spend any other national economy
    (2) The ability to envision, design, and produce the world's best weaponry
    (3) The ability to train and equip the world's best human force

    I'd venture to say that #2 and #3 actually decrease the amount of military spending required, which means a better investment in people is more cost effective than merely maintaining a huge military force.  China, for all its military manpower, never felt confident enough to face Taiwan's missile forces in a physical invasion.  China would have won, but the victory would have been pyrrhic.  North Korea has been similarly stymied.

    In 25 years of military travel, the one constant I noted in the places where I deployed is that law, order, and economic health are synonymous with robust economies, and no robust economy lacks investment in its people.

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by DaveinBremerton on Sat Oct 19, 2013 at 07:44:05 AM PDT

  •  Remember the Peace Dividend? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaveinBremerton

    We were on a path of dismantling our Cold War military industrial complex when 9-11 happened.  We have doubled military and intelligence spending since then.  Step one is to cut back to that point, and quickly, then continue on that path.

    National security has little to do with the military.  Indeed, having to use the military is a sign of failure of tending to our national security.  Militaries can win battles, but only diplomats can end a war -- and, most important, prevent one from breaking out in the first place.  The State Department needs more funding to put our diplomats on the ground and in the culture of every nation, coordinating the work of NGOs and international organization to educate everyone -- especially women throughout the world.  Educated people have hope, and a sense of the future.  It is when a people no longer believe there is a future that they turn on each other.  That is the essence of true national security.

    At home, we need to prepare for natural disaster and (highly unlikely, statistically) any attacks in "the homeland" (what an ominous term that is).  We need mass transit sufficient to evacuate any major city within 24 hours, to respond to disaster massively and effectively and to provide local resources sufficient to treat, and, if necessary, evacuate, the whole population of an area to pre-planned places where they have the resources to live and work and thrive -- and prepare to rebuild.

    We need to decentralize our infrastructure so our power systems and medical systems can be resilient in the face of calamity of any kind.  We need to stop arming our police forces with military weapons and integrate them with social services and emergency response resources.  We need to stand down and get rid of the Department of Homeland Security (what a horrible contrivance that whole thing is!), the North American Command of the military and re-establish a strong posse comitas body of law so no President can ever again drain state-level National Guard resources for a foreign adventure in futility ever again.

    We have a lot of creative destruction ahead of us, even more now that we screwed the pooch by using our military in response to 9-11 and elevating international criminals to the status of Enemy of the United States -- a vacuuous and meaningless label that only furthers their criminal elements' goals.  Their jihadists and our jihadists are the only ones who benefit from such evil.

    It is time to re-assess what true national security means and then get to work making it so.  It is not found in weapon systems and standing military forces.  It is only found in a decentralized, resilient sense of national community in which any calamity which might befall us or our fellow citizens is met with a sincere and effective response in kind with what we would expect if calamity should befall us.  Secure in the knowledge of that assurance, every citizen can pursue happiness, whatever that means to them.  Such assurance gives every citizen a sense of a future in which we can pass along the best fruits of our life work to our progeny.

    A friend of mine into the military empire vision of the nation lamented the Internet was making it impossible to conduct wars since everyone can see on Twitter what our soldiers are doing, and they need to "be able to work in the dark" (as Cheney famously said back in his heydey).  What a pitiful vision of national security that is.  Everything these evil cretins said we should do, we should never do, else our very liberty and national character will be forever condemned to failure.

    Thank you for broaching the subject so few are really discusssing.  It is time to stand down from endless war and false security won by giving up the very things which make this nation secure and prosperous.  It is time to return to the work of the Peace Dividend, and beyond.  

    The time to start was yesterday.

    •  The purpose of a military is not warfare (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eOz, KafkaWest

      The purpose of a military is to provide a credible threat, and in so doing convince a potential adversary that diplomacy is a better course of action.  Specifically, militaries should:

      (1) Possess enough offensive capability to prevent an adversary from massing or employing military forces.

      (2) Possess enough defensive capability to deter an attack.

      (3) Be agile enough to counter an asymmetric threat.

      (4) Be no larger than necessary to accomplish 1 thru 3.

      (5) Be morally led enough to adhere to international law.

      The problem with the U.S. military is that its civilian leadership sees military power as a suitable alternative to diplomacy.  We don't embrace international law when we should, and we fail to present our own civilian leadership with a credible risk of trial for war crimes.

      "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

      by DaveinBremerton on Sat Oct 19, 2013 at 07:05:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Not according to Locke, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaveinBremerton, eOz

    the proponent of the first liberal vision.  

    The edifice of human society is predicated upon individual liberty.  The reason people give up some liberty in order to form a state -- a basic form of collective action -- is for individual security, extrapolated to collective security once a state is formed.  But liberty is the natural state of human being, according to liberal thought.  This contrasts with authoritarian thought, whose principal proponent was Thomas Hobbes.  

    Hobbes believed that the natural state of humankind was fear and violence and that states were formed as collective projects to lift man into higher levels of being.  I think your definition of national security as the basis for society fits closer to the rightist Hobbes than the liberal Locke and the line of thought, including the US declaration of independence, that followed from Locke.

    •  Neither Locke nor Hobbes have it right (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eOz

      They apply absolutes to a creature (man) that is anything but absolute.  Given a state of absolute freedom, some of us will be angels and some of us will inevitably steal, bully, subjugate, or murder.

      There is nothing wrong with aspiring to Locke's ideals while realizing it isn't an all-encompassing solution.

      "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

      by DaveinBremerton on Sat Oct 19, 2013 at 06:54:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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