Does America’s militarism make the world a safer place? Does its projection of power safeguard Americans or does it endanger them? And how would Americans feel if a foreign power had a similar presence along her borders?
The U.S. military maintains 170 golf courses around the world. That’s a lot of golf courses. And that’s a lot of military bases.
At present, there are more than 700 U.S. bases, in approximately 160 countries across the globe. Most people barely give this a thought, if they think about it at all. It’s not exactly a secret, but it’s something that gets very little coverage in the press and garners very little debate in public forums.
It’s as if a general, unspoken consensus has been reached that maintains that it is America’s job to garrison and police the world. It has become the natural order of affairs and seemingly warrants no questioning as to its wisdom or possible benefits. It’s a dictum that has become sacrosanct. But why? What or whom does this presence serve?
After the Second World War, containment of Communism was central to American foreign policy. The Marshall Plan poured billions of dollars of aid into Europe, ostensibly to help rebuild a war-torn continent, but its additional motive was to stymie Communism, even if that meant undermining native democratic movements and political pluralism.
As the Iron Curtain fell, the arms race started. With the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, America showed the world it had the might to annihilate anyone who opposed her. The last thing the Soviet Union needed after losing more than 20 million people was an arms race, but in her eyes, nuclear capability was a question of survival.
The sheer waste of money and resources on both sides is staggering. Instead of using her influence and power to help build a more equitable and stable world order, America’s ambitions laid down fault lines that yet have the potential to rupture and start another global conflict.
Instead of reducing its armed forces after the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. increased its military spending and reliance on military might to solve its problems. If ever there was a golden opportunity for a more peaceful world, the post-Soviet era was it, but instead, America expanded her empire and increased her global reach.
She now has bases in countries that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago in former Soviet Republics and throughout the Asia-Pacific region, all slap-bang in China’s and Russia’s backyards. Instead of providing security, it heightens tensions and fuels militarism on all sides.
One has to ask: Does America’s militarism make the world a safer place? Does its projection of power safeguard Americans or does it endanger them? And how would Americans feel if a foreign power had a similar presence along her borders? History has already shown us: It is not tolerated.
And how can a conflict like the second Gulf War, which left a gaping power vacuum in Iraq, be argued to have made the world a safer place?
When Saddam Hussein was deposed, he left a void Isis and Al Qaida quickly exploited. With all the analytical power of the U.S. military and security services, surely this was foreseen? It’s almost as if the whole tragic saga were engineered for the sole purpose of creating a new enemy to replace the loss of the old Soviet foe.
Dropping bombs, sowing the ground with depleted uranium and chemical weapons (Agent Orange), destroying the infrastructure of second- and third-world countries (it’s always the little guys), propping up cruel dictatorships and fighting proxy wars is wrong and shortsighted. It is a policy pursued by those who profit from war, and it should stop.
But it will only stop when Americans wake up to the misery the people that rule them cause.
Hearts and minds are won with generosity, humanity and wisdom, not violence. It really isn’t hard to see when eyes are opened and prejudices cast aside.
As a planet and as a species, we now face the enormous challenges of over-population and climate change. Surely now is the time to abandon bankrupt and immoral dogma and to effect lasting change for good. For all our sakes.