quoted from http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/James_Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison (1865), Vol. IV, p. 491.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. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
Hopefully, some prominent politician of our time will echo his thoughts during this time of government financial crisis and budget cuts.
Stephen Walt wrote an article for Foreign Policy asking "Is America Addicted to War? The Top Five Reasons We Keep Getting Into Foolish Fights."
- Because We Can
- The U.S. Has No Serious Enemies
- The All-Volunteer Force
- It's the Establishment, Stupid
- Congress Has Checked Out
I've no doubt that one could add more items to this list (e.g., the passive press, the military-industrial complex, etc.), but the items already noted go a long way to explaining why the supposedly peace-loving United States keeps finding itself in all these small but draining wars.