National security

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National security is the maintenance of the survival of the state through the presence of armed forces and the use of economic power, diplomacy, power projection and political power.

You can cut up to 40 or 50 percent out of the Pentagon budget and still have strong national security... when you look at where people are on military policy and domestic policy—when it comes to making sure that these unauthorized wars, these forever wars, stop—the public is with us. ~ U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee
All of this self-serving is driving America and its vassals to war with Russia, which might also mean with China. The war would be nuclear and be the end of the West, an act of self-genocide. The US national security establishment is so crazed that Trump’s efforts to get off the war track and onto a peace track are characterized as treason and a threat to US national security. ~Paul Craig Roberts
My own war experience, and the history of all those military interventions in which the United States was engaged, made me skeptical when I heard people in high political office invoke "the national interest" or "national security" to justify their policies.... Is there a "national interest" when a few people decide on war, and huge numbers of others here and abroad-are killed or crippled as a result of such a decision? Should citizens not ask in whose interest are we doing what we are doing? ~Howard Zinn


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If there is a threat to national and global security today... it is not coming from Putin or the Kremlin – but rather from the United States. And until the American left gathers itself and stops listening to the warmongering pundits and establishment journalists parroting the [permanent war] Washington narrative, we have nothing but a bleak future in front of us with regards to the relation between the two old nemesis nuclear superpower. ~ Jonathan Sigrist
  • The Soviets have really been quite single-minded. They increased their defense expenditures as we increased ours. And they increased their defense expenditures as we decreased ours.
    • Harold Brown, Secretary of Defense, Congressional testimony (January 31, 1979); Department of Defense Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1980, hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, United States Senate, 96th Congress, 1st session (1979), p. 278. In a statement before a joint meeting of the House and Senate Budget Committees in early 1979 regarding the fiscal 1980 budget, Brown further noted, "Soviet spending has shown no response to U.S. restraint—when we build they build; when we cut they build".
  • I do not hold that we should rearm in order to fight. I hold that we should rearm in order to parley.
    • Winston Churchill, radio broadcast, London (October 8, 1951); Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963 (1974), ed. Robert Rhodes James, vol. 8, p. 8257.
  • Today is Trinity Sunday. Centuries ago words were written to be a call and a spur to the faithful servants of Truth and Justice: "Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valor, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar. As the Will of God is in Heaven, even so let it be."
    • Winston Churchill, first radio address as prime minister, London (May 19, 1940); Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963 (1974), ed. Robert Rhodes James, vol. 6, p. 6223, referencing the heroism of the biblical Maccabees in I Maccabees (Apocrypha) 3:58–60.
  • The worst to be feared and the best to be expected can be simply stated.
    The worst is atomic war.
    The best would be this: a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealth and the labor of all peoples; a wasting of strength that defies the American system or the Soviet system or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the peoples of this earth.
    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
    This world in arms is not spending money alone.
    It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
    The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.
    It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.
    It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.
    It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.
    We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.
    We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.
    This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.
    This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
    • Dwight David Eisenhower, "The Chance for Peace," address delivered before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Washington, D.C., April 16, 1953. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953, p. 182.
  • A strong defense is the surest way to peace. Strength makes détente attainable. Weakness invites war, as my generation—my generation—knows from four very bitter experiences. Just as America's will for peace is second to none, so will America's strength be second to none. We cannot rely on the forbearance of others to protect this Nation. The power and diversity of the Armed Forces, active Guard and Reserve, the resolve of our fellow citizens, the flexibility in our command to navigate international waters that remain troubled are all essential to our security.
    • Gerald Ford, address to a joint session of Congress (August 12, 1974); Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Gerald R. Ford, 1974, p. 11.
  • Political scientists like to speak of "security dilemmas": situations in which one state acts to make itself safer, but in doing diminishes the safety of one or more other states, which in turn try to repair the damage through measures that diminish the security of the first state. The result is an ever-deepening whirlpool of distrust from which even the best-intentioned and most far-sighted leaders find it difficult to extricate themselves: their suspicions become self-reinforcing. Because the Anglo-American relationship with the Soviet Union had fallen into this pattern well before World War II ended, it is difficult to say precisely when the Cold War began. There were no surprise attacks, no declarations of war, no severing even of diplomatic ties. There was, however, a growing sense of insecurity at the highest levels in Washington, London, and Moscow, generated by the efforts the wartime allies were making to ensure their own postwar security. With their enemies defeated, there was less of an incentive for these former allies, as they were coming to think of themselves, to keep their anxieties under control. Each crisis that arose fed the next one, with the result that a divided Europe became a reality.
  • Last week, the New York Times reported that the FBI, in 2017, launched an investigation of President Trump “to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security” and specifically “whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.” ...As usual – this melodrama was accomplished by steadfastly ignoring the now-standard, always-buried paragraph pointing out the boring fact that no actual evidence of guilt has yet emerged....The FBI investigation... clearly based, at least in part, on the FBI’s disagreements with Trump’s foreign policy views and the agency’s assessment that such policies fail to safeguard “U.S. interests” as the FBI defines them.
  • In 2003, Carter's doctrine of force when necessary was carried out with “shock and awe,” in what was the most intensive and profligate use of fossil fuel the world has ever witnessed. Recall, too, that as Baghdad fell, invading US troops ignored the looting of schools, hospitals and a nuclear power facility as well as the ransacking of national museums and burning of the National Library and Archives holding peerless, irreplaceable documentation of the “cradle of civilization.” The US military did, however, immediately seize and guard the Iraqi Oil Ministry Headquarters and positioned 2,000 soldier to safeguard oilfields.
  • Our national security has been reduced in large part to energy security, which has led us to militarizing our access to oil through establishing a military presence across the oil-bearing regions of the world and instigating armed conflict in Iraq, sustaining it in Afghanistan and provoking it in Libya... Air war a model for future wars? If so, a death knell for the planet. This insatiable militarism is the single greatest institutional contributor to the growing natural disasters intensified by global climate change.
  • To draw around the whole nation the strength of the General Government, as a barrier against foreign foes,… to equalize and moderate the public contributions, that while the requisite services are invited by due renumeration, nothing beyond this may exist to attract the attention of our citizens from the pursuits of useful industry, nor unjustly to burthen those who continue in those pursuits—these are functions of the General Government on which you have a right to call.
    • President Thomas Jefferson, letter to Amos Marsh, November 20, 1801, reported in ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew A. Lipscomb, vol. 10, p. 293 (1903).
  • A foreign policy aimed at the achievement of total security is the one thing I can think of that is entirely capable of bringing this country to a point where it will have no security at all. And a ruthless, reckless insistence on attempting to stamp out everything that could conceivably constitute a reflection of improper foreign influence in our national life, regardless of the actual damage it is doing to the cost of eliminating it, in terms of other American values, is the one thing I can think of that should reduce us all to a point where the very independence we are seeking to defend would be meaningless, for we would be doing things to ourselves as vicious and tyrannical as any that might be brought to us from outside. This sort of extremism seems to me to hold particular danger for a democracy, because it creates a curious area between what is held to be possible and what is really possible — an area within which government can always be plausibly shown to have been most dangerously delinquent in the performance of its tasks. And this area, where government is always deficient, provides the ideal field of opportunity for every sort of demagoguery and mischief-making. It constitutes a terrible breach in the dike of our national morale, through which forces of doubt and suspicion never cease to find entry. The heart of our problem, here, lies in our assessment of the relative importance of the various dangers among which we move; and until many of our people can be brought to understand that what we have to do is not to secure a total absence of danger but to balance peril against peril and to find the tolerable degree of each, we shall not wholly emerge from these confusions.
    • George F. Kennan, Radcliffe Commencement Address (16 June 1954), published as "The Illusion of Total Security" in The Atlantic Monthly, # 194 (August 1954)
  • All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years.
    • Abraham Lincoln, address before the Young Men's Lyceum, Springfield, Illinois (January 27, 1838); Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953), vol. 1, p. 109.
  • Trump had been calling for better relations with Russia during his presidential campaign... Stooping to a new low, Friday’s (New York) Times headline screamed: “F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia.” For those interested in evidence — or the lack of it— regarding collusion between Russia and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump... NYT readers had to get down to paragraph 9 to read: “No evidence has emerged...”
  • We are confident that we can penetrate any enemy defenses with our missiles. We know that we are more than the equal of any nation in the world.
    • Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense, conversation with newsmen after testifying before a joint session of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Defense Appropriations subcommittee (January 24, 1967), as reported by The New York Times (January 25, 1967), p. 17. McNamara denied there was an antimissile gap.
  • Fifth Column.
    • Emilio Mola, a term used by General Mola during the siege of Madrid in 1936, referring to the contingent of supporters within the city who would aid the army's four columns attacking from outside. A fully documented account of the term, its spread, its popularity, and its change of meaning may be found in Dwight L. Bolinger, "Fifth Column Marches On," American Speech, February 1944, p. 47–49. The first use in English, in a report from Spain, appears in The New York Times, October 17, 1936, p. 9, col. 4.
  • That is not to say that we can relax our readiness to defend ourselves. Our armament must be adequate to the needs, but our faith is not primarily in these machines of defense but in ourselves.
    • Chester W. Nimitz, speech at the University of California, Berkeley, March 22, 1950.—The San Francisco Chronicle, March 23, 1950, p. 7, reported only the second sentence, but both can be found on a typed line of quotations by Admiral Nimitz received from the Navy Department Library.
  • J. Robert Oppenheimer: Our one hope is that Hitler is so, so blinded by hate that he's denied Heisenberg proper resources, because it'll take vast resources. Our nation's best scientists working together. Right now they're scattered.
    Leslie Groves: Which gives us compartmentalization.
    J. Robert Oppenheimer: All minds have to see the whole task to contribute efficiently. Poor security may cost us the race. Inefficiency will. The Germans know more than us anyway.
    Leslie Groves: The Russians don't.
    J. Robert Oppenheimer: Remind me, who are we at war with?
    Leslie Groves: Somebody with your past doesn't want to be seen downplaying the importance of security from our communist allies.
    J. Robert Oppenheimer: Point taken, but no.
  • The military/security complex has resurrected its Cold War enemy so necessary for its outsized budget and power and intends to keep Russia as The Enemy. The Democrats have an interest in the villification of Russia as “Russiagate” explains Hillary’s loss of the 2016 Presidential election and gives Democrats hope of removing President Trump from office. The media lacks independence, knowledge, and integrity and is the tool used by the military/security complex to control explanations... As strategic and Russian studies are largely funded by the military/security complex, the universities are also complicit in the march toward nuclear war. Republicans are as dependent as Democrats on funding from the military/security complex and the Israel Lobby.
  • All of this self-serving is driving America and its vassals to war with Russia, which might also mean with China. The war would be nuclear and be the end of the West, an act of self-genocide. The US national security establishment is so crazed that Trump’s efforts to get off the war track and onto a peace track are characterized as treason and a threat to US national security.
  • The Russians are aware that the accusations and demonization that they experience are fabrications. They no longer see the problem as one of misunderstandings that diplomacy can overcome. What they see now is the West preparing its populations for war. It is this perception for which the West is solely responsible that makes the situation today far more dangerous than it ever was during the long Cold War.
  • Americans will likely never know the complete role the CIA has played – and likely continues to play — in the campaign to overthrow the Maduro government in Venezuela.... Claims of “national security” are used to hide the truth.... The Trump administration’s Troika of Evil – VP Mike Pence, Sec. of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton – seem to be plotting the overthrow of the Maduro government. One can well assume that the CIA, along with other agencies of the U.S. military-industrial complex, have been recruited to destabilize Venezuela, if not worse. Given this, one can wonder if another provocative act like the sinking of the Maine will be orchestrated to legitimize a domestic coup – or U.S. military intervention — in Venezuela.
  • If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War.
    • George Washington, fifth annual address to Congress, December 13, 1793.—The Writings of George Washington, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, vol. 33, p. 166 (1940).
  • To be prepared for War is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.
    • George Washington, first annual address to Congress, January 8, 1790.—The Writings of George Washington, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, vol. 30, p. 491 (1939).
  • A government without the power of defence! it is a solecism.
    • James Wilson, speech, Pennsylvania Convention on the adoption of the Federal Constitution, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 11, 1787.—The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, ed. Jonathan Elliot, vol. 2, p. 520 (1836). Wilson, the leader of the Federalist forces at the convention, was the only member of the Pennsylvania Convention who had been part of the Federal Convention writing the Constitution.
  • Is there a "national interest" when a few people decide on war, and huge numbers of others here and abroad-are killed or crippled as a result of such a decision? Should citizens not ask in whose interest are we doing what we are doing? Then why not, I came to think, tell the story of wars not through the eyes of the generals and diplomats but from the viewpoints of the GIs, of the parents who received the black-bordered telegrams, even of "the enemy."
  • What struck me as I began to study history was how nationalist fervor - inculcated from childhood on by pledges of allegiance, national anthems, flags waving and rhetoric blowing permeated the educational systems of all countries, including our own. I wonder now how the foreign policies of the United States would look if we wiped out the national boundaries of the world, at least in our minds, and thought of all children everywhere as our own. And then there is, much as we would want to erase it, the ineradicable issue of race. It did not occur to me, when I first began to immerse myself in history, how badly twisted was the teaching and writing of history by its submersion of nonwhite people. Yes, Indians were there, and then gone. Black people were visible when slaves, then free and invisible. It was a white man's history.
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