The permanent war state is the 800-pound gorilla in US society and political life. As the old joke goes, the answer to the question, “Where does an 800-pound gorilla eat?” is, “Anywhere he likes.” As long as the organs of “national security” continue to retain the extraordinary power to appropriate budgetary resources and to involve the United States in foreign conflicts without real accountability, US politics will be grotesquely distorted to the profound disadvantage of the movement for fundamental change. The Pentagon, the CIA and the National Security Agency will continue to control most of the $1.1 trillion federal discretionary spending budget, crowding out programs that would benefit people. And beyond wielding that obvious financial power, by maintaining the premise that the United States must continue to make war indefinitely, they will also wield an ideological weapon that helps the economic elite maintain the status quo.

Gareth Porter on permanent war.