Sunday, November 02, 2014

how arms-makers took over the world

thirteen |  Cousins: Dick, the arms manufactures in this country have on their payrolls today more than two hundred former employees of the Pentagon, many of the Generals, who are awarding contracts. Congress required competitive bidding for military contracts. And so the large companies have been turning in the lowest bids. But a few months later they turn in revised estimates. Once they get their contracts, they turn in revised estimates on a much higher level which are approved. What I’m trying to say is that it’s the kind of situation we see with the Contras, going around, getting in the back door, and become a very unhappy but perhaps standardized aspect of American foreign policy. And has perverted our security.

Heffner: Yes, but you know, in The Pathology of Power, you write, “nor could school children be blamed if they concluded after a Ronald Reagan statement that psychological factors rather than ideology or other supposedly intrinsic problems are at the heart of the volatile antagonisms in the world today. You still haven’t struck through what you believe are the reasons unless you’re saying it’s all economically motivated.

Cousins: And so the school children might well ask, was it necessary for these men, who are at the head of great nations, to wait until we have an invasion from outer space before we come to our senses?

Heffner: But you see, in a sense that’s the question I’m asking you. How can we explain, how can we explain the thought that MacArthur’s injunction, Eisenhower’s injunction, the understanding of these military men being swept aside, not just by the two hundred men on the payroll of the munitions manufacturers today, but by those of us who vote for the people who build the big budgets. Build more nuclear weapons.

Cousins: Dick, I see your point. You’re saying that these things don’t happened outside context.

Heffner: Yes.

Cousins: The context is one in which you have large sovereign units in the world today. These sovereign units are given the right, or insist on the right to decide for themselves what their security requires, which is to say they insist on reserving for themselves the right to act arbitrarily outside their own borders. So long as that right persists, in short as Eisenhower says, “as long as we have a condition of anarchy rather than law in the world, everything is going to work back from that particular fact. The power that we exercise will be a direct reflection of the fact that we think we have no responsibility, anymore than other nations think that they have responsibilities to act according to any other standard other than that which they define for themselves. What I’m trying to say is that we live at a very primitive time in human history. We’re trying to make due with institutions, which were obsolete the moment these large weapons came into being. We need security. I think security is important. But we have yet to understand exactly what our security requires. If President Eisenhower was right, our security requires first of all an understanding the limitations of force. It requires an understanding that we have to replace that force with international institutions. If it is said that we can’t build international institutions because of the state of other nations and their own behavior, Eisenhower would say, since he was asked, The fact of the matter is, we try. We try, we try. And one day there will come an opening. I think we may have that opening today.

Heffner: Well, we have one minute left. And you at the end of The Pathology of Power talk about what you want to have as first principles. Read them in a moment… in a minute I should say.

Cousins: If there is a conflict between the security of the sovereign state and the security of the human commonwealth, the human commonwealth comes first. If there is a conflict between the well being of the nation and the well being of mankind, the well being of mankind comes first. If there is a conflict between the needs of this generation and the needs of later generations, the needs of the later generations come first. If there is a conflict between the rights of the state and the rights of man, the rights of man come first. The state justifies its existence only as it serves and safeguards the rights of man. If there is a conflict between public edict and private conscience, private conscience comes first. And finally, there is a conflict between the easy drift of prosperity and the ordeal of peace, the ordeal of peace comes first.