As a Republic, we spend a large share of our resources on trying to catch and punish people who misbehave. At city, county, state, and national levels, we’ve evolved a haphazard conglomeration of “correctional” operations—courts, jails, holding facilities, juvenile detention centers, and prisons. No one seems to know what or how they correct.
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”
Five-Star General, US President
If we want to rethink the role of military operations in the future of the Republic, we can analyze the various options and their costs in the cold, hard logic of return on investment. We face two questions: 1) how much peace of mind can we buy for any given level of military investment; and 2) how much will we consider enough?
Where Have All the Leaders Gone?
More and more Americans have started asking, “Does anybody in politics really care about the country any more? What happened to the statesmen, the thought leaders, the compromisers, the dealmakers?” Public opinion polls consistently show that Americans no longer respect or trust their political leaders. A recent poll showed Congress with an approval rating of just 18 percent.
Meanwhile, the news industry, with its addiction to conflict as the standard model for framing the big stories, now relentlessly simplifies, personalizes, and amplifies the differences that divide the various factions.
The practical effect of this paralyzing conflict and deadlock in so many aspects of the political process means that we don’t get the big things done. And without the respect and approval of the public, how can we mobilize energy and commitment for the big challenges we face?
Meanwhile, antagonistic foreign governments enjoy watching us acting like our own worst enemies.
Plato, the Greek philosopher who taught and wrote about the idea of democracy 2400 years ago, offered a warning to all future generations. Democracy, he said, has one fatal flaw. Its greatest benefit, ironically, always becomes its greatest weakness. He had doubts about whether democracy would survive the centuries