The Racial Politics of National Defense

Joseph Darda in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

Since the Truman administration dissolved the Department of War and replaced it with a Department of Defense in the early years of the Cold War, our presidents — Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal — have used the idea of defense to mask a hard-to-ignore fact: the United States has looked to black, brown, and Asian countries to imagine invasions and define enemies. It has fought wars in East Asia, Southeast Asia, Central America, East Africa, and the Middle East. It has declared none, because the United States no longer wages war against people; it defends itself against communism, crime, totalitarianism, and terrorism. Or so we’re told.

Trump may be less subtle than his predecessors, but he is far from the first president to turn war against dark-skinned people into defense against beliefs and behaviors. The idea of defense came with the office.

More here.