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Our Enemy, Ourselves

Our Enemy, Ourselves

William Astore

Whether the rationale is the need to wage a war on terror involving 76 countries or renewed preparations for a struggle against peer competitors Russia and China (as Defense Secretary James Mattis suggested recently while introducing America’s new National Defense Strategy), the U.S.

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While I don’t agree with everything herein (We don’t need a “Department of Peace” - the last thing this country needs is another freakin’ bureaucracy), I think this is generally an exceptionally well reasoned piece, especially points 3, 6 and 9.

While I don’t recall #10 happening while I was in the service, I believe this is a consequence of the all-volunteer armed forces. While I hate the concept of the draft (I don’t believe the government has the right to force citizens to put their lives at risk for it’s interests), the draft served two social objectives.

First, it ensured that the armed forces remained connected to the population as a whole. Today, we find that “military families” and “civilian families” are becoming two separate tracks. They think differently, they have different values, and one must hope that we never reach the point where Praetorian families choose our next Emperor, oops, I mean President.

Second, (and I know this will cause some controversy) it acted as a social leveller. While some people bought or conned their way out of the draft, most of us did our time. It forced connections that many of us would never have made otherwise, and gave us access to views, people, and ideas that we never would have encountered otherwise. That too is gone with the volunteer armed forces.


Cobalt reserves? Lithium rich salt flat? Arable land with deep soil? OIL?..By Gawd there must be terrorists nearby; there is a need to provide security.



I agree with WWSmith above, that this is an excellent description of America’s constant search for new enemies, and our (often hidden) abuse of our military power. I can think of several such instances, including Laos during the Vietnamese invasion; readers might want to consider “A Great Place to Have a War,” by Joshua Kurlantzick. I also agree we don’t need yet another bureaucracy, and would love to see Homeland Security disbanded and closed.

Given all this military might, however, why is it that Americans are always so afraid?

It’s a vicious circle: military might is big business, maybe the biggest, so other big businesses—our corporate media—create fear to keep us paying for more military might, which is never enough, so more fear is created, etc.

I don’t see a way out of it, short of a nationwide boycott of corporate media (not bloody likely).


The miltary industrial media infotainment complex (MIMIC) keeps us afraid so we will not push back on ever increasing US military presence in our neighborhoods and around the globe. More importantly, we will not push back on ever increasing corporate welfare for MIMIC at the expense of “domestic” programs.

The 1945-1990 cold war was one big fear fest. When my now retired neighbor was a high ranking military officer he toured the former Soviet Union in 1990 to determine the actual threat it presented during the cold war. He told me that the threat was overblown by MIMIC to keep their funding flowing.

Ever since I worked my first political campaign in 1962 (Nixon attempting to unseat California Governor Pat Brown) I have obseerved that most elections are a referendum on which party can best push voters’ fear and greed buttons.


The culture of militarism is a great threat to America and the world.
Successfully attaching patriotism to wars of aggression killing uncountable numbers of innocents, America’s purported virtue is historically well documented to be a falsity. When lies become truth, and a culture bows in obeisance before the marching soldiers, fighter planes and anthems, when trillions of dollars in unaccounted for taxes disappear into this hegemon while politicians enact dramas of fiscal control, we can see that this patriotism is clearly the beginning of the end of American potential.


though i agree with much of what has been said i sadly must remind that when a soldier signs on that dotted line, he belongs to the gov’t and very likely will sacrifice his life on the battlefield. they are heroes, our heroes and they are coming home maimed and mentally challenged. it is our duty as civilians to remember this. a soldier gives up his freedom in order that you keep yours. as a proud adult military brat i have lived in 2 countries and 8 states before the age of 15 and have gone to 9 different schools. we lived in the military complex within chained fences and soldiers at the gates. we had to stop in our tracks when the flag was lowered and expected alerts at any given time…when our soldiers could be called away to protect our interests elsewhere. to suggest that they are not heroes is selfish.

First commonsense suggestion: Reject the Duopoly.

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I like the phrase The Uniparty Consensus myself.
Anyway, great article that will never see the light of day in the NY Times, WaPo, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Seattle Times, Denver Post, SF Chronicle… Well, you know the story. NADA!
Where there is no debate of issues of vital national importance, the logical conclusion is corruption, collusion, conspiracy and connivance.
That’s our Federal Government in a nutshell. Guilty as charged on all counts. The Warmongers and Mass Murderers, led by the U.S. DoD and Congress of the elected class, have won. Clapping for yourself is allowed here and now.
So, we should all be so proud. We can read a great article like this and not be able to do a fucking thing about changing the trajectory of its warning. USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!

Our Enemy, Ourselves — William Astore, 2018

“We have met the enemy, and they is us.” — Walt Kelly, circa 1953

The Swiss have virtually universal military service, and it serves them very well.  IMHO, it’s a great demo­cratizer when a butcher or a baker is the lieutenant and the banker’s son is the PFC.

AMEN!!   IIRC, back in the ‘Good Old Days’ when our government was slightly less hypocritical, what’s now ‘The Department of Defense’ was ‘The Department of War’.  IMHO, we should revert to the old title a.s.a.p.,
or – even more accurately – label it ‘The Department of Imperialistic Aggression’

The BEST of us??  What a crock!!   A huge percentage of our soldiers are in uniform because, as the under-educated products of our mediocre public schools (or dropouts from them), being a private or maybe a corporal is the best job they can get.  (Just as being a teacher is, in far too many cases, the only job that someone who barely made it through college can get.)

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As far as what there is to do about… There’s a Lockheed Martin “factory” near me and I just want to stand on the road into the fortress with a sign saying “quit your job/ You are the MIC” or something along those lines. If you know anyone in these industries tell them to quit and burn the place down on their way out (I’ve suggested this to receptionists of Monsanto and Dow among others). Having said that, I know a old guy who’s Raytheon and near retirement who would merely laugh at this. At the personal level, it’s food on the table. At the national level, the MIC and its web of jobs throughout the country is protected by many seemingly rational excuses.

Has it not occurred to anybody why for decades anti-war movements have utterly failed…
Each day it becomes obvious that mankind must choose between the security of a peaceful society, and the insecurity of militarism which is an inherent part of today’s society. Those who would have us march round in circles pleading with leaders to end war and those who sit back and have faith in the wisdom of governments have in common an ignorance of the cause of war.

We must deal with causes, not just symptoms. Before we can banish war, we must abolish
its cause. War is not natural. It is artificially produced by human beings as an integral part of a particular social system. In the world today there is constant economic competition between nations. When the rivalry becomes too intense, the next step is often military conflict. Why does it come about? Society today is organised on the basis of capitalism. The fundamental principle of this social system is competition. There is rivalry between different groups of capitalist enterprises, who all seek to sell their commodities to the same people in the same world market. In order to complete the process of taking their profits, the capitalists need mineral resources, trade routes to transport goods along and areas of domination with markets of people to sell their goods to. It is competition over these things which drives nations towards war.

Wars are caused by the essentially competitive nature of capitalism.

The spoils of war
Nations compete over:
(i) mineral resources;
(ii) trade routes;
(iii) areas of domination.

Whether we fire the gun or whether we throw it away depends on what kind of society we choose to live in. For socialists the only answer means a completely new way of organising society based not on the dictatorship of an owning class but on the common ownership of the earth’s resources.

It worth pointing out that prior to around the year 2005 , NFL players remained in the dressing room during the singing of the National Anthem. Along with Honor our Veterans days and other such initiatives this ADD to pro sports was part of a PR campaign initiated by the Pentagon after the Vietnam war. They recognized the military had lost the support of the people in that war and wanted to be sure it never happened again and so spent hundreds of millions of dollars hiring PR firms to perfrom what was in essence the brainwashing of the American Public. Their ultimate goal was that no one would ever question the Military and that Social pressure would ensure that any that did so would be ostracized.

If you rise on command and applaud when that PA system says “Let us honor or troops” you are just another person that has been conditioned to do so. It no different really then the Sieg Heils of the Third Reich or the standing at attention in North Korea when its beloved leader speaks on the television.


Wars have nothing to do with capitalism. Wars have existed since humans started to have governments.

Notice your comment:

The spoils of war
Nations compete over:
(i) mineral resources;
(ii) trade routes;
(iii) areas of domination.

Emphasis added - it is NATIONS that are the issue - i.e., GOVERNMENT

I should have said all modern wars and nations are a modern concept, created mostly by the development of capitalism and national capitalists.

Governments are as Marx said “the executive committees of the bourgeoisie”

Certainly the name “Department of Defense” is a minomer.

The original name for it “Department of War” was more accrate


Marx was wrong. Governments are merely the accretion of force. It doesn’t matter the economic system. Was Russia’s invasion of Finland due to capitalism? North Korea’s invasion of South Korea? Iran’s invasion of Iraq? Or Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait?

What matters is that governments seek self-aggrandizement, not the economic system that happens to exist.

I do agree though, that the Department of War was much more honest.

Yes. Yes. Yes.
Russia and North Korea are state-capitalist nations with a ruling class. Iraq’s invasion was due to Kuwait slant drilling into Iraq wells and refusing to pay compensation. And it was Iraq who attacked and invaded Iran for regional hegemony but that was probably a typo.

Obviously, the pretexts and the immediate causes are often not the direct sparks igniting war. And often it is indirect. I did mention areas of domination and trade routes were motives forgoing to war. Finland was such a war, to secure Leningrad. Such was to control of the Straits of Hormuz. North Korea was a so-called "national liberation’ war and the result of a much bigger conflict, the Cold War…a proxy war.

It is often ideological/religious motives used to justify war. Or described as “self-defence”. Seldom has a person be asked to risked death when told it is to further the riches of a few other than themselves whether it is the capitalist class or the Party bureaucracy which i equate with the capitalist class.
But lets part on what i think we share an the agreement - the spread of Orwell’s newspeak in the media and politics.