Our Overgrown Military Establishment

(The opinions expressed in guest op-eds are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of RedState.com.)

While we were all distracted by the horrific developments in South Florida, as a sitting president weaponized a once respected law enforcement institution by turning it into his Praetorian Guard, the Cold War between the United States and a small country barely resembling the old Soviet Union, was given another lease on life. This time by expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to accommodate Finland and Sweden?


Never mind the fact no NATO equivalent exists on the other side. Has anyone seen or heard from the Warsaw Pact lately? Me neither.

I can think of no national security or foreign policy rationale, or justification for extending membership in NATO to Sweden or Finland, especially as Russia and Ukraine continue killing each over, wait for it, Ukraine’s potential membership in NATO.

The West isn’t at war, nor should it be at war with Russia, a country with less than half the GDP of California. The Soviet Union is no more. And so is any risk of Russia invading Finland or Sweden. Or France, Germany, or England, for that matter.

An enlightened American foreign policy isn’t turning old enemies into new enemies. America and our Western European allies have squandered the “Peace Dividend” that we were left by Reagan, Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II. Instead, the politicians in Washington spent trillions turning plowshares into Raytheon shares.

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”


The Military Industrial Complex, in service to companies like Raytheon, have controlled Washington D.C. since the 1950s. Armchair warriors on Capitol Hill, from both political parties, indeed, the only truly bi-partisan Caucus in Washington, are determined to keep American taxpayers in a state of perpetual financial bondage by the confiscatory taxation required to keep us in a constant state of just-in-time war readiness.

It isn’t supposed to be like this. In his farewell address to his new nation, George Washington, a seasoned General turned first President of the United States, warned about “overgrown military establishments.” 165 years after Washington’s warning, in another farewell address to the nation, Dwight D. Eisenhower, another General turned 34th President of the United States, warned about a “permanent armaments industry of vast proportions…”

It should come as no surprise that those most opposed to war are those who’ve seen it and experienced it. Washington and Eisenhower were both battle-tested men of war, which is perhaps why they governed as respected and admired statesmen committed to a peaceful tranquility and the morality of prosperity.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Ronald Wilson Reagan were also committed to peace and prosperity. Reagan believed in peace through strength. Like Washington and Eisenhower before them, both JFK and Reagan understood intuitively the best way to avoid war was to be prepared and ready to go to war.


It is an obvious probability that had JFK not been assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963, his legacy would have been ending the Cold War before it had its profoundly destructive impact, including the fueling of hot wars in Asia and Central America. Unfortunately, that task was left to Reagan, who, on June 12, 1987, accomplished what JFK no doubt intended but was killed before he could.

With six words, President Reagan fulfilled the vision and dreams of Washington, Eisenhower, and JFK, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” And so unleashed a new era in international politics. An era where the United States was the undisputed global superpower. And not by a little, but by a lot. A nation stronger militarily and economically than any nation that existed before. A respected nation whose leaders would speak softly while carrying a big stick.

Today, America has a president who can barely speak at all, even as he carries a wet noodle. And it is this unambiguous show of weakness that is provocative. General Washington and Eisenhower, JFK, and Reagan knew the answer to perpetual wars abroad and political turmoil at home is economic prosperity, individual freedoms, and liberty.

America needs another leader who understands these first principles in the marrow of his bones. And we need that leader before we are all forced to say farewell to the American Dream.



Joe Armendariz is the Director of Government Relations & Public Affairs for Armendariz Partners, LLC. He is the former Executive Director of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association, Santa Barbara Technology and Industry Association and the Chairman of the California Center for Public Policy. His views are his own and do not necessarily represent the views of his former or current group affiliations. He can be reached at: 805.990-2494


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