America’s national debt is now 102% of GDP and at $15.904 trillion, is fast approaching $16 trillion with each passing second (see U.S. Debt Clock).
In fiscal year 2010, the Department of Defense accounted for 18.74% of federal government expenditure. That means the government spends nearly $2 out of every $10 on the military.
This morning comes news that the U.S. Marine Corps is creating law enforcement battalions.
Yes, you read correctly. Not military defense, but LAW ENFORCEMENT.
Julie Watson reports for the AP, July 22, 2012:
The Marine Corps has created its first law enforcement battalions – a lean, specialized force of military police officers that it hopes can quickly deploy worldwide to help investigate crimes from terrorism to drug trafficking and train fledgling security forces in allied nations.
The Corps activated three such battalions last month. Each is made up of roughly 500 military police officers and dozens of dogs. … Marines have been increasingly taking on the role of a street cop along with their combat duties over the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they have been in charge of training both countries’ security forces. Those skills now can be used as a permanent part of the Marine Corps, Durham said.
… The battalions will be capable of helping control civil disturbances, handling detainees, carrying out forensic work, and using biometrics to identify suspects. Durham said they could assist local authorities in allied countries in securing crime scenes and building cases so criminals end up behind bars and not back out on the streets because of mistakes. …
Gary Solis, a former Marine Corps prosecutor and judge who teaches law of war at Georgetown University, said Marines have already been doing this kind of work for years but now that it has been made more formal by the creation of the battalions, it could raise a host of questions, especially on the use of force. … “Am I a Marine or a cop? Can I be both?” he said. “Cops apply human rights law and Marines apply the law of war. Now that it’s blended, it makes it tougher for the young men and women who have to make the decision as to when deadly force is not appropriate.”
In his 2004 important and insightful essay for The Future of Freedom Foundation, “The Bill of Rights: Antipathy to Militarism,” Jacob G. Hornberger reminds us:
The Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that “no Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”
Obviously, the Third Amendment has little relevance today. But what is relevant for us today is the mindset that underlay the passage of that amendment — a mindset of deep antipathy toward militarism and standing armies. Our ancestors’ fierce opposition to a powerful military force was consistent with their overall philosophy that guided the formation of the Constitution and the passage of the Bill of Rights. …
Historically, governments had misused standing armies in two ways, both of which ultimately subjected the citizenry to tyranny. One was to engage in faraway wars, which inevitably entailed enormous expenditures, enabling the government to place ever-increasing tax burdens on the people. Such wars also inevitably entailed “patriotic” calls for blind allegiance to the government so long as the war was being waged. Consider, for example, the immortal words of James Madison, who is commonly referred to as “the father of the Constitution”:
“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people…. [There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and … degeneracy of manners and of morals…. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
The second way to use a standing army to impose tyranny was the direct one — the use of troops to establish order and obedience among the citizenry. Ordinarily, if a government has no huge standing army at its disposal, many people will choose to violate immoral laws that always come with a tyrannical regime; that is, they engage in what is commonly known as “civil disobedience” — the disobedience to immoral laws. But as the Chinese people discovered at Tiananmen Square, when the government has a standing army to enforce its will, civil disobedience becomes much more problematic.
Consider again the words of Madison:
“A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”
The idea is that governments use their armies to produce the enemies, then scare the people with cries that the barbarians are at the gates, and then claim that war is necessary to put down the barbarians. With all this, needless to say, comes increased governmental power over the people.