Fearmongers Past And Present
by John Myers
The 1952 film "Duck and Cover" taught schoolchildren to duck and cover themselves if an atomic bomb exploded.
“It’s a lousy war, kid… but it’s the only one we’ve got.”
–James Cagney as Capt. Flagg in “What Price Glory”
In the 1986 remake of the movie “The Fly,” Geena Davis’ character, Veronica Quaife, said to Jeff Goldblum’s character, Seth Brundle: “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” For half a century, that is exactly what the ruling elite have been telling ordinary people like you and me.
I am dating myself on this, but I can still remember our “Duck and Cover” drills in grade school. One day, my older brother told me it was a waste of time; no amount of ducking would save me from an atomic bomb. From that moment on, I spent lots of nights worrying about the end of the world.
Watch 'Duck and Cover' here:
That was just the way our leaders wanted it. Even today, the Federal government sells fear the way Madison Avenue sells soap.
While expensive, the Cold War certainly had its advantages. Best of all, it kept everyone on edge and got us to trust in our government. After all, the government was all that stood between us and the enemy. And we all knew who the enemy was. We even knew the enemy’s plan: world domination. Nobody objected to an absolute truth: Billions of dollars had to be spent each and every year to stop the godless Red Menace.
Just how big of a threat were the Communists? Looking back, it seems they were not the warmonger heathens our leaders told us they were.
In the late 1950s, the neocons were scaring the Nation about Soviet first-strike capabilities. President Dwight D. Eisenhower knew better because of top secret U-2 flights.
Yet people like Edward Teller, known as “the father of the hydrogen bomb,” were spreading fears of America’s imminent destruction. It reached a fever pitch in the autumn of 1957 when the Soviets launched Sputnik. Teller decried the challenge from the satellite that was about the size of a beach ball as defeat worse than Pearl Harbor.
Mainstream newspapers began to report that the United States was in a dire situation. In an editorial on Nov. 10, 1957, The New York Times indicated it hoped the United States would return to “a race that is not so much a race for arms or even prestige, but a race for survival.” On Dec. 20, 1957, The Washington Post ran a front-page story with the headline “Enormous Arms Outlay Is Held Vital To Survival.”
Politicians jumped on the story. Presidential hopeful John Fife Symington Jr. argued that the Soviets would soon have at their disposal 3,000 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that could wipe the United States off the map.
Within months, U-2 flights revealed the truth to Eisenhower; the Soviet ICBM force consisted of exactly four missiles and two launch pads. (If you want to check the facts on just how weak the Soviets really were in the 1950s and 1960s, I recommend the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy, by David E. Hoffman.)
After Sputnik launched, there was no stopping American neocons, writes Stephen Glain in State vs. Defense: The Battle To Define America’s Empire:
Eisenhower successfully challenged the military industrial complex and he had the courage to expose it as a threat to republican democracy. But he could not shut it down. Even in his time, it had grown too large and feathered too many political and corporate nests for one man, even a great one, to dissolve.
Until the downfall of the Soviet Union, the Cold War kept American defense spending at a fever pitch. It was later learned when sealed Kremlin documents were released that the Soviets were fighting a defensive struggle and that the two world wars had decimated their population and their economy. As far back as Joseph Stalin’s time, the Soviets understood they could not win a nuclear showdown with the United States.
American neocons probably didn’t understand that while the Cold War was being waged. But one has to wonder whether they would have allowed a President or Congress to curtail defense expenditures had they known.
Neoconservatives have managed to increase defense spending over the past 20 years even though the Soviet Union no longer exists and what remains — Russia — is having a difficult time keeping its economy above water. Regardless, our government does not want us to feel safe.
With the exception of Ron Paul, the remaining contenders for the GOP Presidential nomination have said they will increase defense expenditures.
Despite America’s record deficit, the Federal government has proposed $851 billion in military spending next year. America already has the best submarines, fighter jets, strategic bombers and missile systems. But the neocons tell us that these are dangerous times made all the more so because we don’t exactly know who we might face.
It is too bad that a now-bankrupt Nation didn’t heed the warning Eisenhower gave when he left office:
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence–economic, political, even spiritual–is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.Eisenhower couldn’t stop the fearmongers who control so much of our society. Nor has any President since been able to stop them. The cabal puts us on constant alert and makes us build swords rather than plowshares. And here is the kicker: We do it with money lent to us by the principle enemy we stand against.
Few people seem to understand the idiocy of owing almost $1 trillion to China to upgrade our armed forces so we will be prepared to fight China.
I have news for the neocons: China doesn’t need state of-the-art aircraft carriers and submarines. It just needs to throw a few hundred billion dollars of its U.S. Treasuries onto the open market. That would make the Crash of 2008 seem like a slight downtick.
Yours in good times and bad,
Editor, Myers’ Energy & Gold Report