Monday, April 9, 2012

United States Militarism

Oceania has always been at war with East Asia and anyone who does not know this is contrary to the orthodox view and is subject to enforcement authority by the thought police, as a thought criminal. -- "1984" by George Orwell

Are we a peaceful nation? Most Americans believe we only go to war when it is absolutely necessary. But is that really true? Let’s review our history of military conflicts:

1775–1783 – Revolutionary War
1776–1777 – Second Cherokee War
1776–1794 – Chickamauga Wars
1785–1795 – Northwest Indian War
1786–1787 – Shays' Rebellion
1791–1794 – Whiskey Rebellion
1812–1814 – War of 1812
1846–1848 – Mexican American War
1860–1890 – Indian Wars
1893 – Overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom
1897–1898 – Spanish American War
1899–1902 – Philippine–American War
1917–1918 – World War I
1941–1945 – World War II
1951–1952 – Korean War
1945–1992 – Cold War
1962–1973 – Vietnam War
1983 – Operation Urgent Fury (Grenada)
1989 – Operation Just Cause (Panama)
1990–1991– Operation Desert Storm (First Persian Gulf War)
1992–1995 – Operation United Shield (Somalia)
1992–1995 – Operation Deliberate Force (Bosnia)
1998–1999 – Operation Determined Falcon (Kosovo)
2001–2011 – Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)
2003–2011 – Operation Iraqi Freedom
2011 – Operation Freedom Falcon (Libya)
2001–? – “War on Terror”

The US has been a country for 236 years and has been at war for at least 128 of those years. The above list is not even complete. When you consider ALL the foreign and domestic military and covert operations the US has undertaken, it can be said that the US is a very aggressive and warlike nation that has rarely been at peace. 

How much defense spending is enough?

Over half of all federal discretionary spending goes to the armed forces and their legion of private contractors. House Republicans (led by Rep. Paul Ryan) recently passed a budget that  includes more tax cuts for the rich and increased Defense spending while slashing domestic entitlement programs. As the Republicans argue in this election year that Obama is "cutting" defense to "dangerous" levels, and the Secretary of Defense moans about a potential "doomsday" if existing spending is reduced, Americans would do well to remember that these are just fear tactics.

The United States is in an arms race with itself. No other country can compete with the size of our military budgets, the lethality of our weapons or the global reach of our armed services. U.S. defense spending is about 48 percent of the world’s total and greater than the next 14 countries combined. What exactly are we getting for all that money?  The US maintains more than 700 overseas bases in about 130 countries, with an additional 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories. It would be a lot less expensive and safer for us if we stopped trying to be the world’s policemen and adopted a much lower profile.

US Military Spending vs The Rest of the World

Defense spending exacts a very high price on our economy. Excessive military spending is forcing cuts in government services that protect the health and safety of Americans. It is also costing us millions of jobs and slowing our recovery from the Great Recession. Dollar for dollar, money invested in weapons produces fewer jobs than money invested in education, green jobs, or a myriad of other industries, according to a study by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, many strategists suggested that the Cold War arms race had bankrupted its economy and caused its downfall. More than 20 years later, it appears that the US is headed towards a similar fate.

Uncle Sam is Broke