6/6 – Melvin Goodman: American Exceptionalism: Our Gun Culture at Home and Abroad

Amerikanska politiker tror att enorma försvarsbudgetar skapar internationell säkerhet för USA, och många amerikaner tror att deras vapen ger dem trygghet. USA ifrågasätter inte användningen av dödliga vapen i onödiga krig utomlands som i Vietnam, Irak och Afghanistan. Hemma i USA finns det fler vapen än människor – 120 vapen för varje 100 personer. USA är exceptionellt eftersom militära vapen är tillgängliga för tonåringar som har psykiska problem, skriver Melvin Goodman i en essä om den US-amerikanska vapenkulturen och dess konsekvenser.

There is an insidious and unspoken connection between our gun culture at home and abroad. U.S. politicians and pundits believe that huge defense budgets provide international security for the United States, and many Americans believe that personal weapons provide safety at home. We don’t question the use of deadly weaponry in unnecessary wars overseas; Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan are the most recent examples. At home, there are more guns than people — 120 guns for every 100 people. The United States is exceptional because some of the same weapons designed for war are available to teenagers fighting their personal demons.

Campaigns for greater defense spending accompany every international crisis. David Ignatius, the Washington Post’s leading apologist for the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency, is currently beating the drums for a new generation of nuclear-armed bombers, missiles, and submarines that would cost more than $2 trillion over the next two decades and would increase the risk of nuclear war. In April, Ignatius argued that the “risks of nuclear war” created “extra urgency in developing a new generation of doomsday weapons that could maintain deterrence.” He praised the Pentagon’s budget request for 2023, which emphasized “stronger nuclear weapons,” including a new-generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) known as the Sentinel, a new B-21 manned bomber, and an exotic mix of drones and manned fighters known as Next Generation Air Dominance, or NGAD.” The fact that nuclear weapons have no utilitarian value is completely lost on Ignatius and others.

Ignatius’ case for greater defense spending echoes the case made by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III. Austin spoke at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii in April and summarized his views in a Post oped last month. Austin wants greater funding in order to expand U.S. security “not just through air, land and sea but also space and cyberspace.” His inexplicable label for this approach is “integrated deterrence,” designed to address the changing nature of warfare “that stretches from the heavens to cyberspace and far into the oceans’ depths.” Austin wants to invest in quantum computing and artificial intelligence to “enable us to find not just one needle in one haystack but ten needles in ten haystacks.” I have no idea what the Secretary of Defense is talking about, but Ignatius proclaims his support for all of it.

Tom Nichols, a former professor at the Naval War College who currently writes for The Atlantic, bemoans the fact that we have “no nuclear strategy” as if there were political and military objectives that could justify the wanton and indiscriminate use of nuclear weapons. In the 1980s, Robert Jervis argued that a “rational strategy for the employment of nuclear weapons is a contradiction in terms. What is missing from the writings of Nichols and others is the necessity of restoring the dialogue on arms control and disarmament. Nichols employs the canard that nuclear weapons are a “battlefield equalizer” and would allow significant reduction in U.S. conventional weaponry. In the 1950s, nuclear weapons were sold to the American public as a way to reduce spending on conventional arms. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

The United States is exceptional because we are unable to learn from experience. Decades of losing efforts in such far-flung places as Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan haven’t led to a reassessment of the use of military power. Just as Russian President Vladimir Putin is trapped in a quagmire in Ukraine with no strategy for getting out, the United States is trapped in the belief that our military deployments provide strategic advantages. Instead of examining the cost of the Pentagon’s “high operational tempo” of the past two decades, our military planners and congressional sycophants stress the need for readiness and future capability against two adversaries—Russian and China. The mainstream media, led by Ignatius and others, support the use of artificial intelligence and data-driven readiness to justify ever greater defense budgets.

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