Michelle Obama’s War

Michelle Obama recently said:

Childhood obesity isn’t just a public health threat, it’s not just an economic threat, it’s a national security threat as well.

Previously, we had heard that our deficit was a national security issue:

The record U.S. budget deficit and debt should be viewed as a growing national security concern, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told lawmakers yesterday.

“We have to address this deficit and the debt of the U.S. as a matter of national security, not only as a matter of economics,” Clinton said in testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and related programs.

Why must everything be a national security issue? And if these things really are national security issues, why are they announcing it to our enemies? And if our enemies already know this, do these Washington bureaucrats think we, the American people, are too stupid to realize it for ourselves?

I explain this obsession in The Path to Tyranny in a section about War Powers:

Seeing the usefulness of war to expand government and gain powers not enumerated in the Constitution, politicians and bureaucrats often use war terminology to advance their agendas. The War on Drugs, War on Poverty, and War on Cancer were not real wars, but by creating a sense of urgency, proponents of these issues hoped to receive government funding before public sentiment shifted to other causes. Many argue the War on Terrorism should also be on this list of fictitious wars, but it at least involves real military conflict. To some extent, the War on Drugs also requires military support, but it remains primarily a job for law enforcement and public education. The wars on poverty and cancer though require neither the military nor law enforcement and, therefore, the use of the war metaphor is simply a deceptive tool used to gain support for increased government spending.

The same could be said about the two “wars” above. While our deficit may in fact be an immediate national security issue, the use of this “war metaphor” will simply be used to force higher taxes upon the people or reductions in promised benefits (social security) to pay for these new “wars.” It is a stretch to claim childhood obesity is a national security issue. It is a serious problem and is symptomatic of our society, but it in itself is not a national security issue, though its underlying causes (consumerism, laziness, lost productivity, increased health-care costs) may themselves indirectly affect national security.

Don’t let the politicians trick you with their use, rather misuse, of words.

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