This is a further elaboration of the reply I posted to Ann's comment on my long post, "Where We Are Now." It is natural to focus one's attention on the Tea Partiers, and to decry their looniness. But it would be a very serious mistake to imagine that the fundamental shape of American foreign and domestic affairs has been importantly shaped by them and their many predecessors. If one wishes to locate the roots of our policy of permanent war, look to the Foreign Affairs Council, to the sober, respectable, moderate, thoughtful men and women of American public life, to William Fulbright and Mike Mansfield, to Joe Biden and Madeleine Albright, to Hillary Clinton and Zbigniew Brzezinski, yes even to Henry Kissinger. Look to every Senator who has ever chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee or Senate Armed Services Committee, to every Secretary of Defense since the post was created. I cannot think of a single major public figure since World War II who has questioned the foundations of American foreign policy [with the possible exception of Henry Wallace, but I am not sure about him --- I was only fourteen at the time.]
For a while, to be sure, American military policy was driven by the objective technological facts of the delivery of nuclear warheads. But that technology settled down forty years ago. [If anyone is actually interested in this, I would be happy to post a long explanation. At one point in my life, I was an expert on the subject, and wrote a book about it that I never succeeded in getting published.]
The crazies in American politics are dangerous, but they are not the explanation for the shape of post-World War II American foreign and military policy. Nor, needless to say, are they and their ilk the cause of economic inequality in America, any more than fever blisters are the cause of an infection.