The Creeping Militarization of American Culture
At the dawn of the Cold War, social commentator Garet Garrett warned that America could not indefinitely remain a republic at home, enjoying the values of limited government and robust civil liberties, while taking on more and more trappings of empire abroad. Gradually, he predicted, the requirements of the latter would drastically alter and eventually eclipse the former. As in the case of Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, Garrett’s warning seems all too prescient.
Americans are rapidly approaching the point where they must make a stark choice. Either the United States adopts a more circumspect role in the world—in part to preserve what is left of its domestic liberties—or those liberties will continue to erode (perhaps beyond the point of recovery) in the name of national security. That choice will determine not only how the United States is defended in the future but whether this country retains the values and principles that make it worth defending.
Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of ten books and more than 600 articles on international affairs. His latest book is Perilous Partners: The Benefits and Pitfalls of America’s Alliances with Authoritarian Regimes (2015).
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