The United States is arguably both the safest nation in the world and among the most fearful. An unremitting hysteria permeates the news media, public opinion, and especially, the policymaking process. National security discourse generally depicts trivial threats as existential ones and, through overapplication, has so neutered the meaning of “threat” that almost any phenomenon, foreign or domestic, can qualify. The resources Washington devotes to mitigate these “threats” are correspondingly disproportionate, and the policies enacted to combat them are often counterproductive. The result is an overly aggressive, militarized foreign policy that wastes taxpayer money, provokes international hostility, instigates unnecessary wars, and erodes constitutional checks on the exercise of arbitrary power here at home.
In February 2012, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained, “I can’t impress upon you that in my personal military judgment, formed over 38 years, we are living in the most dangerous time in my lifetime, right now.” He was born in 1952. In 2013, he upped the ante: “I will personally attest to the fact that [the world is] more dangerous than it has ever been.”
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Transcript of Farewell Address to the Nation
By Dwight D. Eisenhower (1961)
Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well‐wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
By Aesop (~600 BC)
But this time the villagers, who had been fooled twice before, thought the boy was again deceiving them, and nobody stirred to come to his help. So the Wolf made a good meal off the boy’s flock, and when the boy complained, the wise man of the village said: “A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth.