Longtime readers of my blog know that I have long recommended a book entitled National Security and Double Government by Michael J. Glennon, professor of law at Tufts University and former counsel to the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee. Glennon’s thesis, to which I subscribe, is a simple but ominous one: The U.S. national-security branch of the federal government — that is, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA — control the federal government. The other three branches, while permitted to have the appearance of being in control, actually operate in deferential support of their master, the national-security establishment.
Glennon’s thesis was recently on full display when the members of Congress added a small provision to the 1000-page Defense Authorization Act that prevents a president from withdrawing from NATO without approval from two-thirds of the Senate or an act of Congress, two things that are virtually impossible to achieve given the control that the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA have over Congress.
NATO purportedly guarantees that the U.S. military will automatically come to the defense of any member nation that is attacked by another nation. (In actuality, NATO cannot trump the Constitution, which requires a congressional declaration of war before the president can wage war.)
NATO currently consists of 31 countries, with three more aspiring to join — Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine. That means that the United States is ostensibly automatically pledging the lives of American soldiers to the defense of all those nations. It also means that the United States could easily find itself in a major war, including a nuclear war, even though no nation-state has attacked or invaded the United States.
It would be difficult to find a better justification for the continuation of the national-security state than that. If anyone suggests that we restore our founding governmental system of a limited-government republic (with just a relatively small military force), the national-security establishment can respond “Oh, no! How then would we comply with our obligation to defend our NATO allies?”
More important, NATO provides the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA with great opportunities to stoke up crises that can be used to justify their continued existence and, of course, ever-increasing taxpayer-funded largess.
During the Cold War racket, the supposed international communist conspiracy that was supposedly based in Moscow, Russia (yes, that Russia!), was used to justify the conversion of the federal government to a national-security state. “The Russians are coming!” the Cold Warriors cried. Taxpayer-funded largess poured into the coffers of the national-security establishment, and its power over the other three branches of the federal government expanded exponentially.
With the sudden and unexpected end of the Cold War, that cash-cow racket ostensibly came to a screeching halt, much to the shock and dismay of the national-security establishment. I say “ostensibly” because the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA were not ready to let go of their Cold War racket.
That’s where NATO, an old Cold War dinosaur that should have gone extinct with the end of the Cold War, came into play. The Pentagon, which has long wielded as much control over NATO as it does over Congress, began using NATO to absorb former members of the Warsaw Pact, knowing full well how Russia would react.
Once the 20-year U.S. war on Afghanistan suddenly ended ignominiously for the U.S. national-security establishment, the Pentagon simply pulled the trigger for a new crisis, one that would inhibit any discussion of the Afghan deadly and destructive disaster. That was when the Pentagon used NATO to announce that it was considering inviting Ukraine to join NATO, which would enable the Pentagon to station its nuclear missiles, weapons, bases, and troops on Russia’s border.
The Pentagon knew full well that Russia’s reaction would be the same as the U.S. reaction would be if Russia or China were doing the same thing in Cuba. U.S. officials proclaimed that Russia was, once again, on the march toward the United States. “The Russians are coming again!” U.S. officials cried. The old Cold War racket was back on, minus the Red conspiracy that had supposedly been based in Moscow. (The supposed communist threat to take over the United States was now limited to Red China and North Korea.)
Never mind that the Russia-Ukraine crisis has brought the United States ever closer to nuclear war with Russia. What matters is that the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA have their justification for continued, permanent existence and ever-increasing taxpayer-funded largess with their renewed Cold War racket.
Wouldn’t you think that an important provision like NATO membership would be the subject of a separate and independent law rather than a small provision in an annual defense bill? Not if you don’t want lots of discussion and debate about it. In that case, you simply send an order to your minions in Congress to stick that provision in the Defense Authorization Act and don’t make any big fuss about it. Predictably, that’s precisely what the Pentagon’s servants in Congress have done.
The Founding Fathers warned against getting embroiled in “entangling alliances” like NATO. Moreover, in one of the most striking Farewell Addresses in U.S. history, President Eisenhower warned about the dangers of the “military-industrial complex.” I wonder how many Americans realize that he initially planned to use the term “military-industrial-congressional complex.”
I wish every single American would read Michael Glennon’s profound book. Doing so would go a long way toward dismantling the national-security state and restoring our founding system of a limited-government republic and our founding foreign policy of non-interventionism and no entangling alliances.