New Realities Regarding War on Terror, Consumer Confidence, and Economic Growth
Wildlife conservationists appreciate more and more the premise that economic growth is a limiting factor, if not the primary liming factor for wildlife in the aggregate. More economic activity tends to reduce carrying capacity by degrading or diminishing habitats, even outright mortality of individual individuals and populations of all sorts of flora and fauna.
It is interesting to compare a couple of major wars to see how economic activity relates to warmaking and by extension to wildlife fewer than two different paradigms. World War II saw an U.S. homeland with higher levels of bio-diversity than present due to smaller population size and overall economy.
WWII was a war declared by Congress and was seriously considered to be necessary for the survival of the U.S. as a nation. As a result, material sacrifice was required of the American people. Rationing went into effect for all sorts of commodities, including rubber, gasoline, and many consumer goods. American people were willing to sacrifice for the warmaking effort and were willing to accept that warmaking and fighting causes casualties, though the war was mostly fought on other nations’ soil, with Pearl Harbor being the major exception.
In contrast, the so-called "War on Terror" is a very different paradigm. Americans are urged to consume and engage in shopping, travel and other business during wartime. More and more scholars and investigators are expressing views that the American government either allowed the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to occur or even conspired in their planning and operational success. From the American government perspective, a key to success in this "war on terror" is to maintain maximum consumer confidence. Thus, any further attack on the homeland would be considered catastrophic, even though the nations targeted by American military forces absorb and continue to absorb enormous, massive damage to infrastructure and loss of innocent human life due to American warmaking efforts (No doubt wildlife in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iraq is also a victim to warmaking as well).
The "Homeland Security" effort could largely be considered illusory in that it provides an illusion of security in order to promote a thriving economy in the U.S., which is required to pay for the proliferate military spending upon which American power is based.
As a result, we see enhanced American economic activities and government spending, largely for the purposes of militaristic and "defense" activities, all of which come at the expense of the natural environment, but which often primarily benefit only the corporate elite.
Among other things, this results in the most powerful military in the history of the world, combined with tens of millions of American citizens with no health insurance, and also combined with lengthening lists of endangered and threatened species with little effort to recover them or even protect them.
And both presidential candidates speak of continuing this discretionary war as a long-term proposition. Former general and U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, in his final address as President to the American people warned, "Beware of the military-industrial complex". Even Eisenhower could not have predicted this new paradigm in all likelihood, but wildlife conservationists must be concerned about the prospects of endless war as a drain for wildlife protection resources.
A possible solution? Requiring a balanced Federal budget with no cumulative deficit; plus requiring that Congress declare war before engaging in any warmaking as required by the U.S. Constitution, plus requiring by law that all discretionary wars be (a) declared by Congress and (b) be paid for in advance by budget surpluses instead of by going into debt. Would the American public or Congress EVER wage a war, which they had to pay for instead of forcing their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to pay for?