Chalmers Johnson, the distinguished professor emeritus from the University of California, San Diego, whose Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire virtually predicted 9/11, published in early 2004 a new volume devoted to the militarism that is undermining the values of the constitutional republic that the United States has always been, transforming America into something of a different nature altogether, and "compelling Americans," as the dust jacket to Johnson's volume puts it, "to pick up the burden of empire." In the brief passage below, Johnson contrasts the U.S. in 1874 and the U.S. in 2003 to show what America has become....
From Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Co., 2004), 78-79:
As late as 1874, well after the Civil War, our country's standing army had an authorized strength of only 16,000 soldiers, and the military was considerably less important to most Americans than, say, the post office. In those days, an American did not need a passport or governmental permission to travel abroad. When immigrants arrived they were tested only for infectious diseases and did not need a passport or governmental permission to travel abroad. When immigrants arrived they were tested only for infectious diseases and did not have to report to anyone. No drugs were prohibited. Tariffs were the main source of revenue for the federal government; there was no income tax.
A century and a quarter later the U.S. Army has 480,000 members, the navy 375,000, the air force 395,000, and the marines 175,000, for a total of 1,389,000 men and women on active duty. The payroll for these uniformed personnel in 2003 was $27.1 billion for the active army, $22 billion each for the navy and air force, and $8.6 billion for the marines. Today, the federal government can tap into and listen to all citizens' phone calls, faxes, and e-mail transmissions if it chooses to. It has begun to incarcerate native-born and naturalized citizens as well as immigrants and travelers in military prisons without bringing charges against them. The president alone decides who is an "illegal belligerent," a term the Bush administration introduced, and there is no appeal from his decision. Much of the defense budget and all intelligence agency budgets are secret. These are all signs of militarism and of the creation of a national security state.