Chris Hedges: The Enemy from Within

The war industry, a state within a state, disembowels the nation, stumbles from one military fiasco to the next, strips us of civil liberties and pushes us towards suicidal wars with Russia and China.

You Are What They Eat – by Mr. Fish.

By Chris Hedges
Original to ScheerPost

America is a stratocracy, a form of government dominated by the military. It is axiomatic among the two ruling parties that there must be a constant preparation for war.

The war machine’s massive budgets are sacrosanct. Its billions of dollars in waste and fraud are ignored. Its military fiascos in Southeast Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East have disappeared into the vast cavern of historical amnesia.

This amnesia, which means there is never accountability, licenses the war machine to economically disembowel the country and drive the Empire into one self-defeating conflict after another. The militarists win every election. They cannot lose. It is impossible to vote against them. The war state is a Götterdämmerung, as Dwight Macdonald writes, “without the gods.”

Since the end of the Second World War, the federal government has spent more than half its tax dollars on past, current and future military operations. It is the largest single sustaining activity of the government. Military systems are sold before they are produced with guarantees that huge cost overruns will be covered.

Foreign aid is contingent on buying U.S. weapons. Egypt, which receives some $1.3 billion in foreign military financing, is required to devote it to buying and maintaining U.S. weapons systems. Israel has received $158 billion in bilateral assistance from the U.S. since 1949, almost all of it since 1971 in the form of military aid, with most of it going towards arms purchases from U.S. weapons manufacturers.

The American public funds the research, development and building of weapons systems and then buys these same weapons systems on behalf of foreign governments. It is a circular system of corporate welfare. 

Between October 2021 and September 2022, the U.S. spent $877 billion on the military, that’s more than the next 10 countries, including China, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom combined.

These huge military expenditures, along with the rising costs of a for-profit healthcare system, have driven the U.S. national debt to over $31 trillion, nearly $5 trillion more than the U.S.’s entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

This imbalance is not sustainable, especially once the dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency. As of January 2023, the U.S. spent a record $213 billion servicing the interest on its national debt.  

Fooling the Public

Boeing B-52H Stratofortress at Barksdale Air Force Base, 2014. (Christopher Ebdon, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The public, bombarded with war propaganda, cheers on their self-immolation. It revels in the despicable beauty of U.S. military prowess. It speaks in the thought-terminating clichés spewed out by mass culture and mass media. It imbibes the illusion of omnipotence and wallows in self-adulation.

The intoxication of war is a plague. It imparts an emotional high that is impervious to logic, reason or fact. No nation is immune.

The gravest mistake made by European socialists on the eve of the First World War was the belief that the working classes of France, Germany, Italy, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Russia and Great Britain would not be divided into antagonistic tribes because of disputes between imperialist governments.

They would not, the socialists assured themselves, sign on for the suicidal slaughter of millions of working men in the trenches. Instead, nearly every socialist leader walked away from their anti-war platform to back their nation’s entry into the war. The handful who did not, such as Rosa Luxemburg, were sent to prison.

Distorting Society

Rosa Luxemburg memorial at the site where her corpse was thrown into the Landwehr Canal in Berlin. (CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

A society dominated by militarists distorts its social, cultural, economic and political institutions to serve the interests of the war industry.

The essence of the military is masked with subterfuges — using the military to carry out humanitarian relief missions, evacuating civilians in danger, as we see in the Sudan, defining military aggression as “humanitarian intervention” or a way to protect democracy and liberty, or lauding the military as carrying out a vital civic function by teaching leadership, responsibility, ethics and skills to young recruits.

The true face of the military — industrial slaughter — is hidden.

Dividing the World 

The mantra of the militarized state is national security. If every discussion begins with a question of national security, every answer includes force or the threat of force. The preoccupation with internal and external threats divides the world into friend and foe, good and evil.

Militarized societies are fertile ground for demagogues. Militarists, like demagogues, see other nations and cultures in their own image — threatening and aggressive. They seek only domination. 

It was not in our national interest to wage war for two decades across the Middle East. It is not in our national interest to go to war with Russia or China. But militarists need war the way a vampire needs blood.

Good Business Model

Airmen training, 2016, Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.  (Air Force/Christian Clausen)

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev and later Vladimir Putin lobbied to be integrated into Western economic and military alliances. An alliance that included Russia would have nullified the calls to expand NATO — which the U.S. had promised it  would not do beyond the borders of a unified Germany — and have made it impossible to convince countries in eastern and central Europe to spend billions on U.S. military hardware.

Moscow’s requests were rebuffed. Russia was made the enemy, whether it wanted to be or not. None of this made the U.S. more secure. Washington’s decision to interfere in Ukraine’s domestic affairs by backing a coup in 2014 triggered a civil war and Russia’s subsequent invasion. 

But for those who profit from war, antagonizing Russia, like antagonizing China, is a good business model. Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin saw their stock prices increase by 40 percent and 37 percent respectively as a result of the Ukraine conflict.  

What War With China Would Bring

President Joe Biden delivering “stand with Ukraine” remarks on May 3, 2022, at the Lockheed Martin facility in Troy, Alabama. (White House, Adam Schultz)

A war with China, now an industrial giant, would disrupt the global supply chain with devastating effects on the U.S. and global economy. Apple produces 90 percent of its products in China. U.S. trade with China was $690.6 billion last year.

In 2004, U.S. manufacturing output was more than twice China’s. China’s output is now nearly double that of the United States. China produces the largest number of ships, steel and smartphones in the world.

It dominates the global production of chemicals, metals, heavy industrial equipment and electronics. It is the world’s largest rare earth mineral exporter, its greatest reserve holder and is responsible for 80 percent of its refining worldwide.

Rare earth minerals are essential to the manufacture of computer chips, smartphones, television screens, medical equipment, fluorescent light bulbs, cars, wind turbines, smart bombs, fighter jets and satellite communications. 

War with China would result in massive shortages of a variety of goods and resources, some vital to the war industry, paralyzing U.S. businesses. Inflation and unemployment would rocket upwards. Rationing would be implemented. The global stock exchanges, at least in the short term, would be shut down. It would trigger a global depression.

If the U.S. Navy was able to block oil shipments to China and disrupt its sea lanes, the conflict could potentially become nuclear.

In “NATO 2030: Unified for a New Era,” the military alliance sees the future as a battle for hegemony with rival states, especially China. It calls for the preparation of prolonged global conflict.

In October 2022, Air Force General Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command, presented his “Mobility Manifesto” to a packed military conference. During this unhinged fearmongering diatribe, Minihan argued that if the U.S. does not dramatically escalate its preparations for a war with China, America’s children will find themselves “subservient to a rules based order that benefits only one country [China].”

According to The New York Times, the Marine Corps is training units for beach assaults, where the Pentagon believes the first battles with China may occur, across “the first island chain” that includes, “Okinawa and Taiwan down to Malaysia as well as the South China Sea and disputed islands in the Spratlys and the Paracels.”

Militarists drain funds from social and infrastructure programs. They pour money into research and development of weapons systems and neglect renewable energy technologies. Bridges, roads, electrical grids and levees collapse. Schools decay. Domestic manufacturing declines. The public is impoverished.

The harsh forms of control the militarists test and perfect abroad migrate back to the homeland. Militarized police. Militarized drones. Surveillance. Vast prison complexes. Suspension of basic civil liberties. Censorship.

Those such as Julian Assange, who challenge the stratocracy, who expose its crimes and suicidal folly, are ruthlessly persecuted. But the war state harbors within it the seeds of its own destruction. It will cannibalize the nation until it collapses.

Before then, it will lash out, like blinded cyclops, seeking to restore its diminishing power through indiscriminate industrial slaughter. The tragedy is not that the U.S. war state will self-destruct. The tragedy is that it will take down so many innocents with it.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and NPR.  He is the host of show “The Chris Hedges Report.”

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The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

25 comments for “Chris Hedges: The Enemy from Within

  1. c
    May 4, 2023 at 15:14

    Robert Kennedy Jr. said the function of the CIA is to provide the military industrial complex with a series of wars, and if he is elected he will reorganize the CIA as part of a ‘peaceful revolution’. But he expects to run as the Democrat candidate.

  2. Anon
    May 3, 2023 at 13:37

    Tnx Chris,CN.
    The very media in which We are Joining NOW: Internet… Could Save Us… through Communication.
    It’s MOST Powerful Form?
    To test this theory… Lead Lines (YOU get to recall the CONCLUSION):
    “Just like yesterday, I get down on my knees and pray”:

  3. May 3, 2023 at 05:08

    A superb essay as always by Chris Hedges.

  4. Michael Kritschgau
    May 3, 2023 at 03:59

    I have always said that the progressive movement in the U.S. is just a smokescreen to deflect attention from the actual deeds done by the U.S. government abroad.
    When you focus the attention of the population on old colonial hatreds, LGBTQ movement, the world ending because of climate change, toxic masculinity and whatnot then you make the population blind to the U.S. global war machine and the modern colonies that the U.S. has created all over the world. The same people who gave us the threat of global warming are the same people who are prolonging the war in Ukraine risking, if not a nuclear war, then a nuclear accident that will definitely destroy the ecosystem there and risk the entirety if Europe with a nuclear radiation. This is how the American people were blinded when the coup in Ukraine happened.
    The entirety of Eastern Europe, barring Hungary and Serbia (to some degree), is a colony of the United States. In Romania, the U.S. is called The Great Firefly for obvious reasons.

    It’s a safe bet that we will see an intensification of the strife within the U.S. as the war with China approaches.

  5. Rudy Haugeneder
    May 3, 2023 at 00:40

    Absolutely correct. But almost nobody really cares. And it is getting worse.

    • J Anthony
      May 3, 2023 at 18:35

      Some of us care. We’re a small minority, I guess.

  6. Lenny Sandroff
    May 2, 2023 at 21:40

    I would argue that we live in a synarchy run by :

    The word synarchy is used, especially among French and Spanish speakers, to describe a shadow government or deep state, a form of government where political power effectively rests with a secret elite, in contrast to an oligarchy where the elite is or could be known by the public.

    Wikipedia defines it as:

    “Synarchy (from the Greek “????????”; ???, syn , “with”, and ??????, arkheía , “government”) is the political system in which power is exercised by an elite or corporation.

    It can be understood as the government made up of several princes , each of whom administers a part of the State , or also, as the generally decisive influence of a group of commercial companies or powerful people in the political and economic affairs of a country. country. “1


    If true, and if the stratocractic state is run by a bi-umverate division of synarchical global power, then we have moved an abstraction beyond fascism, either technocratic or white settler and into murderous waters.

    Nearly two centuries ago in the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels defined the State, not as a neutral body standing above society with competing political parties, but as a political instrument of class domination, “a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.”

    The ruling class and the state are synarchical now.

    They have merged with the stratocracy and the trans-national controls to the point that they cannot even be seen.

    And the affairs are now financial capitalism, the terrain is constant updates of AI and war tools and the accumulation model is now repressive accumulation — repression domestically and oppression and exploitation abroad.

  7. wildthange
    May 2, 2023 at 21:08

    The militaries of the world a protection racket we cannot afford any longer. This century we are too complex for super power warfare.
    They need each other to survive and armies complete with navies and air forces and space forces for market share. But they have to have war to prove the new weapons in action and it is a never ending economic drain on civilization. Letting the military lead is suicidal.
    Territoriality and male dominance behavior is now an existential threat to human civilization and all life on this planet.

  8. CaseyG
    May 2, 2023 at 17:31

    Maybe, if all the top dogs in the Pentagon had to actually GO TO WAR themselves—then maybe we would have a more peaceful world. And too , those who vote for war in Congress, would actually go to that war. If that was our world, we would have a more logical nation and a much more peaceful planet.

  9. Valerie
    May 2, 2023 at 15:32

    From the article:

    “China produces the largest number of ships, steel and smartphones in the world.”

    And China negotiates peace deals.

  10. Gene Poole
    May 2, 2023 at 14:50

    You mention Rosa Luxemburg going to prison, but you forget Jean Jaurès being shot to death in Paris after a newspaper printed a call for him to be murdered for his non-nationalist, pacifist views.

  11. Sr. Gibbonk
    May 2, 2023 at 14:01

    W.H. Auden’s poem August 1968 describes this flailing, failing U.S. Empire to a T:

    August 1968
    The Ogre does what ogres can,
    Deeds quite impossible for Man,
    But one prize is beyond his reach,
    The Ogre cannot master Speech:
    About a subjugated plain,
    Among its desperate and slain,
    The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
    While drivel gushes from his lips.

    • Valerie
      May 2, 2023 at 15:25

      W.H. Auden; a great poet. Thankyou for that Sr. Describes it perfectly.

  12. Jeff Harrison
    May 2, 2023 at 13:07

    We have met the enemy and he is us.

  13. Jack Gordon
    May 2, 2023 at 12:50

    I don’t know if Chris Hedges and I would agree on other subjects, but what he wrote here reflects 1000% what this American citizen has learned over 8 decades of life.

  14. Bushrod Lake
    May 2, 2023 at 10:34

    We are being lead to the gas chambers, walking the plank for the profit of the “defense” industries in collusion with governments and media that are taken over by their DEATH WISH.
    Wasn’t it VP:Chaney who talked about the “dark side”?
    Do we have the courage to live?

  15. firstpersoninfinite
    May 1, 2023 at 23:53

    Another great riposte by Chris Hedges to our supposedly acceptable reality. How does one wage war against warmongers? By refusing to accept their preferred reality as our future reality. When authorities tell us how things must be, we must exact a price and say “are you sure you want to pay the price for that reality?” All we can offer is the refusal of our complicity. As Orwell said in Homage to Catalonia, “it is sometimes better to lose a fight than not to fight at all.” Some good always comes from resistance – no good ever comes from complicity to the status quo.

  16. James
    May 1, 2023 at 21:13

    Excellent article while the chance that Chris Hedges will ever be given a chance to air his critical views on the military-industrial complex on either the network or cable news programs are simply non-existent.

    • Art Costa
      May 2, 2023 at 10:15

      The MIC is an operation, not a entity that claims the world order. It functions within it, just like the MSM/Cable that tells “us” what to think about and through omission not to think about.

      All of the operational apparatus is governed by network of elites that have been identified. The POTUS has no real power. It is the office of the president of the US that has been captured and rules with executive orders and proclamations, most/all circumventing the other 2 bodies.

    • evelync
      May 2, 2023 at 12:31

      You’re right James!
      Hopefully, hopefully, there is a well justified loss of trust in MSM and people are finding more reliable sources like the excellent Consortium News!

  17. Aaron
    May 1, 2023 at 19:22

    The bottom line is? “it’s Gods will!”… The self destruction will be total destruction.

    On a lighter note the US narrative is now switching, thanks to…..” Climate Change Champions.” Yes the war in Ukraine needs a negotiated peace settlement. State approved and supported by Pentagon manic, stress disorder. The defeats are getting bigger, lets all bomb China next.

    This article encapsulates humanities sad, violent history from rocks and spears thrown by cave men in fur boxers dragging their women by the hair. ( I’ve never seen a rock painting on domestic violence, just sayin.)

    Excellent commentary and it’s ruined my day ?

    • Gene Poole
      May 2, 2023 at 15:02

      Those cave men had somebody telling them, “they’re our enemy!” Fast forward to today.

      • Vakerie
        May 4, 2023 at 16:01

        Yes Gene. Basically cavemen and monkeys we still are.

    • May 3, 2023 at 07:43

      I have to say that as bad as this is there is a bigger picture that seems to go unnoticed or unknown, and it is that the Malthusian Eugenics loving monsters are behind this entire theatre of the absurd. Wall Street financed the Bolshevik revelation as well as the Nazis! Why you may ask, well because they are all fascists at heart. Their dream is of a world run by giant corporations. Just as the robber Barrons did in this country at one. The ultimate goal is to depopulate most of the planet of useless eaters, and this is what they think of the bulk of us all. Why do you suppose they sent all of our manufacturing out of this country? The said it was because we could not compete unless we did but this was a lie! You see protective tariffs prevented this from endangering domestic manufacturing. By increments they destroyed the entire American system like the boiling frog metaphor. They have been planning this for hundreds of years as the excellent history book by Robert Ingraham points out. The Modern Anglo-Dutch Empire, Its origins, Evolution, and Antihuman Outlook. A must read in order to understand all the seemingly disconnected activates taking place in the world. They gave us a single puzzle piece to try and figure out what the whole was, and this is by design. The other book I would suggest is Eustice Mullins book, Murder by Injection, a picture of how the Rockefellers took control of the entire medical establishment in this country early on. It will inform you as to how we arrived at the sorry state of affairs we are now in. Phony science used to inject us with deadly poisons called vaccines. The do not follow established scientific methods when putting this poison on the market. How could they have immunity from liability when they do not even know what these jabs will do, or maybe they do know, and it is part of their plan to depopulate the planet. All of the insane posturing by the military is well insane, so ask yourself why? If you do not read real history, you will never put the pieces together, and this leaves you with one puzzle piece. The WEF and the 300 or so elites on this planet have so effectively brainwashed us into buying the rope they will hang us with. Just look at our illustrious military success over the last fifty years! The best military on the planet? The greatest Heathcare on the planet? The smartest people on the planet? military intelligence? Everything you have been educated to believe is a lie. Get out of the matrix and look at the big picture as nothing takes place in a vacuum. I have followed Hedges for years, and even he does not put the whole together. Yes, all the individual things he writes about are real and disturbing, but they are not disconnected from the whole. It is all connected and is being perpetrated by the string pullers. Look up the documentary, who controls the world and see the mass consolidation that is hidden from view. Do not be the cave dwellers in the analogy of the cave, staring at shadows and thinking it is reality, it is not! Jack.

    • Valerie
      May 4, 2023 at 15:57

      “I’ve never seen a rock painting on domestic violence, just sayin.)”

      I’ve spent a few days Aaron figuring this one out. I’ve finally got it. And what you had to say about our violent history.

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