Hysteria on the Military Front
Mining Affairs Forum
By Ken Thornberg
Throughout history, America has been at war. Once the war came to us, but in all other instances, it visited other nations and we opted to get involved. Now that our military spending costs us $1 trillion a year ($9,000 per household), is it time to ask why we are waging some of the battles we have gotten involved in? Do we really need all the firepower we possess? Do we really need bases all over the world in peaceful nations when they have their own defenses? I have wanted for some time to pose some tough questions to our readers on this issue and feel it is now time.
Self-Protection is Necessary, But…
Nobody argues with the fact that a nation should have what it needs to defend itself. Is there a good reason why a nation should have an arsenal that protects the entire world? President Reagan, when confronted with an out of control defense budget, replied, “You spend what you need.” Well, the operative word in that sentence is the word “need.” Just what do we really need? The United States now spend 54% of the money expended worldwide on defense. In other words, we spend more than the entire world combined!
According to neoconservative ideology, the U.S. has “interests” worldwide that need to be protected with military bases and personnel. Well, we now have troop deployments in more than 100 nations across the globe. What would happen if we only spent what the next three or four largest defense spenders put out? Can we take advantage of our unique geographical position, between two oceans, in order to spend less? Both the most conservative and most liberal Congressmen have recently sought to cut at least $100 billion in the budget for each of the next ten years, partly upon scaling back American troop commitments to Europe and some other foreign bases. Since the Cold War has diminished almost totally, why not? Has anyone besides myself wondered why we have to have numerous bases in Germany? Why should European nations depend upon American resources for their own protection when they have more resources than we do defensively now? How can our government excuse this as “protection for America?”
If we reduced out troops in Europe and Asia by only 25%, we would save $80 billion! Rolling back our Army and Marine Corps growth as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down would save $147 billion. Reducing our fleet to 230 ships and retiring two aircraft carriers would drop another $176 billion and $157 billion savings would be generated by cutting/eliminating a few weapons systems and research. There are other possible retirements, reductions and changes that could save another $420 billion. Cutting weapons systems might be considered controversial, except for the fact that when we eliminate unneeded bases around the world and stop acting like the world’s policeman, these weapons have no need of being there.
Why Are We There?
Our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are presently running bout $165 billion annually, so a reduction of $147 billion over ten years by winding those wars down is a pittance of what we are paying for now. We would have spent $4-6 trillion on them, and I ask you, for what reason? How is the Muslim domination of those nations dangerous for America today? I would place my patriotism next to anyone’s, and yet after all of these years, I cannot ascertain why we are really there. Is it just for the oil? Our presidents have said no, so what is that the truth? President Bush stated when it all began, “When we are successful and we will be, we will have a real chance at this new world order in which a credible United Nations can use its peacekeeping role to fulfill the promise and vision of the UN’s founders.” Is that why we have sacrificed over 4,000 men in these wars? To give up our sovereignty? Why is it our job to obtain freedom, by our standards, for everyone else? Why didn’t we interfere in Rwanda where the genocide was much, much worse? Or in southern Sudan, where over a million lost their lives? More people died there than in both Iraq and Afghanistan. And we are to believe that it was not for the oil? So far, that is the only real reason I know of, and our readers know how U.S. administrations are doing everything possible to keep us from drilling in North America and being independent of supporting Arab nations, who in turn use those dollars to support terrorism. Remember 9/11? Fifteen of the 19 hijackers involved were from Saudi Arabia and yet we consider them an ally in the war against terrorism. Why? Why is everyone else a part of the “Axis of Evil?” The irony of this entire façade is that we will be leaving these nations in the hands of Muslims with no guarantee that the militants won’t return to power quickly. What’s the definition of insanity again?
Overseas Military Gluttony
According to the Dept. of Defense’s 201 Base Structure Report, American now maintains 662 foreign sites in 38 countries. Would anyone have dreamed of this figure? I sure didn’t. This does not count nations where we use them as staging areas for our wars with Iraq and Afghanistan. We actually have 400 bases in Afghanistan alone. As I looked more deeply into this issue, the truth is that no one (yes, no one) knows exactly how many bases we support around the world!
Many of my readers probably remember years ago when we closed many military bases in the U.S. Yet, at the same time, we would not close one base overseas. What is wrong with that picture? The big line used by neoconservatives is the line “American interests.” Just how do we define an American “interest?” An interest that is worth sacrificing American lives over?
I maintain that it does not refer to protecting American property and citizens. Is it not actually connecting American prosperity to the military establishment and running of these wars? Is it not using war to bring economic prosperity to certain leaders and industries at the cost of American lives and taxpayers?
A trifecta of neoconservatives—Ed Feulner of the Heritage Foundation, Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute, and William Kristol of the Weekly Standard—have said, “Global prosperity requires commerce and trade and this requires peace. But the peace does not keep itself. The ‘Global Trends 2025’ report anticipates the rise of new powers—some hostile (my emphasis)—and projects a demand for continued American power…” These and others see a world of vague, frightening “threats” against which Americans can only be protected by more and more military spending. They even include the Somalian pirates in their inclusion.
It is like watching a re-run of the movie, Canadian Bacon, where our president is seeking a new threat to keep up arms production. His famous comment: “What are we going to do for an enemy now?” Today we have an imagined enemy in Libya, a potential replacement for Iraq and Afghanistan. Don’t misunderstand me—I am no fan of Gadhafi. However, he is not now, and never has been, a threat to American sovereignty. Yes, he blew up a plane with hundreds of innocent civilians and has finally repaid those families. That was inexcusable. But is it reason enough to send our entire military to overthrow him and allow Al Qaeda to replace the leadership, which is what is happening as I write?
Right now we have 11 U.S. naval carrier battle groups that could do just fine in handling “nonstate” threats such as terrorism and piracy (without occupying those nations). They have enough nuclear power to reduce just about any nation to rubbish. They could continue, for example, checking for illegal fishing off the coast of Africa to make sure they don’t lose $1 billion in fish to suspicious vessels within their territorial waters potentially affecting their economies. Yes, we actually do that! We are a continental police force there. Amazing.
Whether the U.S. should be policeman of the world is what the defense budget is all about. We have 400,000 military personnel deployed abroad as of September, 2010. This has cost American lives, American taxpayers, kept soldiers from being fathers and husbands to their families, and has helped engender anti-American sentiment everywhere we go. We should leave these bases and let the affected country keep the base(s) for themselves as a gift for our prior intervention. We don’t have a Hitler today to protect ourselves against and I presume these neoconservatives will keep trying to invent one, Gadhafi being the latest opportunity.
Madison Had it Right
Congress, with the help of our personal pleas—texts, emails, phone calls and letters--can find the courage to go beyond the imagined threats to our “interests” and make the cuts necessary. Let’s spend the money building protection within our own borders, paying soldiers what they are due, and allowing them to be the dads and husbands they are called to be. It’s time to stop our government from using this as a means of helping create their “new world order” and instead stop the erosion of our own sovereignty to the cobra inside our own borders, the UN. As president Jams Madison said, “Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies and debts and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few…No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare…The means of defense against foreign danger historically has become the instruments of tyranny at home.” Amen.