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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Welcome to Military America

by

Perhaps it’s finally dawning on many Americans the adverse effect that the national-security state apparatus, which was grafted onto America’s governmental system after World War II, has had on American society. It’s taken the events in Ferguson, Missouri, to cause people to see what a militarized society looks like.

We’ve seen the blowback that has come with U.S. imperialist and interventionist policies. The 9/11 attacks didn’t come out of nowhere. They were a direct result of U.S. foreign policy, a policy of imperialism and foreign interventionism that generated deep-seated anger and hatred for the United States. That foreign policy was initiated and carried out by the U.S. national-security state apparatus—i.e., the enormous standing army, the empire of foreign and domestic military bases, and the CIA—in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world.

The 9/11 attacks, in turn, have been the excuse to expand federal control over the lives of the American people, infringing on their liberty and privacy, and adding to the ever-increasing levels of federal spending and debt, including on the warfare state side of the ledger.

And now Americans are seeing how the corrosive effects of the national security state have come to pervade state and local law-enforcement agencies.

For years, the Pentagon and Homeland Security have been flooding local and state police departments with military weaponry and equipment. Everything has been provided for free, with the feds providing training and support.

The scheme has been modeled on the same sort of relationship that the Pentagon and CIA establish with national-security establishments in foreign countries.

Consider, for example, Chile prior to the military coup that the U.S. national security state instigated in 1973. In order to pull it off, the CIA and the Pentagon were funneling weaponry and equipment directly into the Chilean military, in the process establishing close relationships with Chile’s national-security establishment.

In fact, when socialist president Salvador Allende, who had been democratically elected and who the Pentagon and CIA were intent on ousting from power, assumed the presidency, the U.S. government immediately ceased foreign aid to Chile … except for the military, which it continued to flood with U.S. support. That’s because they knew that such aid would inevitably cause the Chilean military to feel greater loyalty toward the U.S. national-security establishment than to the Chilean citizenry.

The Pentagon fortified the relationship with training programs for Chilean military officials, such as the one at the School of the Americas, where U.S. military officials trained Chilean military officials in the art of torture. In the process, personal relationships and comradery were nurtured between the two national-security establishments.

Thus, when it came time to pull off the coup, U.S. officials had no problems in convincing their Chilean counterparts to do what the U.S. wanted them to do—to destroy Chile’s democratic system with a violent coup, one that entailed detention, torture, rape, and murder of tens of thousands of innocent people—that is, people whose only “crime” was believing in socialism.

For a more up-to-date example of this phenomenon, that’s what has been going on with the Egyptian military dictatorship. It’s been using weaponry and armaments that have been provided by the U.S. national-security establishment for decades to destroy Egypt’s experiment with democracy and to maintain its iron grip on power within the country.

That’s the type of relationship that the national-security establishment has, over the past several years, established with local and state police departments. The furnishing of all that free military gear ensures that law enforcement agencies develop a feeling of loyalty and trust toward the federal government that is independent of the city councils and county administrations that are funding law-enforcement operations with taxpayer monies.

The result of all this is the development of a military mindset among state and local law-enforcement officers. What is that mindset? It is one that expects obedience and deference to authority on the part of the citizenry.

Consider, for example, the U.S. military. How many protests and demonstrations have you seen in the last 30 years by military personnel, either enlisted men or officers, against torture being committed by the organization they work for?

Answer: None. Not one single protest or demonstration, even though every single soldier knows that torture is morally wrong and illegal under military rules.

That’s because the mindset that is inculcated in the soldier from day one is one of obedience and deference to authority. Order and stability is the way of life in the military. Massive protests and demonstrations don’t fit into that paradigm.

Or consider North Korea, where the citizens wouldn’t dare to think about organizing protests and demonstrations against governmental policy. They are considered by the authorities to be model citizens—deferential, orderly, obedient, and loyal, never questioning or challenging in a public way what the authorities are doing.

That’s the mindset of the cops in Ferguson, Missouri. They want people to behave like people do in the military or in North Korea. Deferential, obedient, submissive, and loyal. They expect them to follow orders, just like buck privates do in boot camp. That’s why the Ferguson cops bark out orders to people as if the cops were drill sergeants. They expect people to obey them, just like privates do in the military.

Consider this statement by a cop in the Los Angeles Police Department, which appeared in yesterday’s Washington Post:

Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?

What’s the difference between that mindset and the mindset of a drill sergeant at boot camp or the mindset of a North Korean cop?

No difference at all.

This is what the adoption of the national-security state apparatus has done to the United States. Through its ever-increasing imperialism, foreign interventionism, and militarization of American society, the military and the CIA continue to move American society toward one based on the model provided by the army or the model provided by police-state regimes, a society in which the bureaucrats are in charge and the citizenry are expected to loyally and obediently obey orders, defer to authority, remain submissive, and never challenge the actions of their overlords.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.