What is the warfare state?
The warfare state is a country set up for perpetual warfare. Waging war becomes nearly a way of life rather than a last resort.
In the Book of Mormon, Amalickiah sought (and suceeded) to make the Lamanite nation a warfare state. He used propaganda of all kinds to bang the war drums, as it were, for a people that had recently suffered catastrophic losses both in the times of the Nephite-Amlicite civil war (in Alma 2) and in Zerahemnah’s military excursions (Alma 43). He was successful. The results were catastrophic for both Lamanites and Nephites, as we find in the last few chapters in Alma.
In our day, there are those that bang the war drums. There is frequent and alarming talk of conflict with Iran, Pakistan, and in various African nations, and this at a time when we are actively embroiled in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The warfare state has motivations and incentives and tendencies to encourage war, rather than peace. Consider our defense budget. America’s military spending (over $600 billion in 2007) is nearly equal to the rest of the world’s defense spending combined. Nor is this a new trend. Even at the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, we still spent hundreds of billions of dollars a year, stationing hundreds of thousands of troops overseas. To this day, we still have over 700 bases in 130 countries. Are all these necessary for national defense?
We have a standing army, navy, coast guard, and air force, not to mention countless national guard units. (For over a hundred years, America never had a perpetual standing army.) A permanent military-industrial complex was established in the 1950s, an industry that relies on hundreds of billions of dollars of tax revenue to design and manufacture weapons and weapons systems. They profit when we fight. When conflict is broiling, they are making money. Remove the tendency for conflict and the need for a military-industrial complex is significantly decreased. Remove the military-industrial complex and the pressure to go to war is reduced.
The warfare state goes to war often, as did the Lamanites of old. The United States has fought in dozens of conflicts since the turn of the 20th Century.
With a weak dollar, global economic turmoil, struggling energy markets, ongoing casualties and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, and anti-American sentiment growing throughout the world, it is high time we reconsidered our foreign policy pattern of intervention which appears closely aligned with a warfare state, a state perpetually embroiled in conflict.
Can we afford the warfare state? Is it moral? What are the consequences? These questions should be asked by all Americans in this time of international turmoil.