often have you heard the terminology that “rogue nations” (a
term that became known as “nations of concern” after
decades-long tensions between North and South Korea abated) pose
a threat to our “national security”? These phrases are
repeated so often by politicians from both parties and the mass
media that they become the assumptions that guide most of the
American public. But how much of a threat could these nations
you add up the defense spending of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Cuba,
North Korea, and the Sudan, their total defense budget combined
is about $14 billion. The U.S. military budget, in contrast, now
tops $330 billion.
United States is not only the leader in military defense
spending around the world, but also spends more than the 2nd
to 10th world leaders in defense spending combined.
The United States and her allies account for two-thirds of all
defense spending on the planet.
our “national security” cannot be defined merely as he
preservation of our territories at this time. When the term
national security is used, as it is often when the government
does not want to explain its foreign policy, it is broadly
defined to mean whatever interest we are seeking to fulfill at
the time. Note: when government officials just use the term
'interest', it means we’ll get involved in one way or another.
When the term 'vital interest' is used, that means we are prepared
to go to war.
what interests could any of these nations pose to us at this
time? Cuba and North Korea are not going to lure the world into
communism. Sudan is a land-locked nation in the Sahara Desert.
Syria, Iraq and Iran all working together could not defeat Israel
even if Israel was unaided, let alone if the United States
about Saddam Hussein? Well, Iraq’s southern region has been an
occupied area since the end of the Persian Gulf War, and we have
made sure that Iraq remains strong enough so that Iran does not
step into the void, but weak enough so that Hussein has been
contained. Our main method of containment has been sanctions
that have prevented food and medical supplies from entering the
country, and have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of
thousands of children. I don’t think Saddam Hussein loses
sleep over these deaths, but the U.S. government contributed to
their occurrence, and the people of Iraq blame us. That is why
when Hussein fires a gun into the air, the Iraqi crowds cheer.
That is a country we should be working to strengthen, not weaken.
Indeed, our economists recommended and the IMF imposed an
austerity package on Russia in the mid-1990s that devalued the
ruble so that the lifetime savings of millions of people were
wiped out. Not surprisingly, the Russian Mafia stepped into the
vacuum created by these policies. Vladimir Putin is the best
thing to happen to Russia in a long, long time, maybe in a
century, as he has been working to rebuild a society that
combines the Russian character with the rule of law and
pluralism. If Putin fails, then the threat of Russia
disintegrating becomes greater, and that would only jeopardize
the security of all of Eurasia. Russia may sell weapons to
countries without our approval from time to time, but that does
not make her a threat; Russia’s demise does pose a threat.
Their rise to world power is likely, but not inevitable, and it
is 50 years away, at the very least. Not unlike Russia, the type
of country China becomes depends to a certain extent on how we
react to them. If we treat China like an enemy, China’s
historic xenophobia will reassert itself, and China will become
an enemy. Conversely, if we treat China as a partner, we can
establish sufficient commercial inroads that will make future
cooperation the overriding reality, and war a virtual
impossibility. (Prosperous countries that trade with each other
rarely wage war on each other.) In the meantime, we should stop
worrying that China will invade Taiwan, because China does not
have the military resources to do so.
potential military conflict between India and Pakistan could be
devastating, but there is little that the US can do to avoid
such a war. Few other places in the world possess any sort of
of these examples are oversimplified to be sure, but are cited
to demonstrate the disproportionate level of force at hand to
serve US interests abroad. I don’t want to live in a
may object to that term, and there is room for disagreement. But at the
very least, the examples demonstrate that our military is far
too large at the moment. A smaller, more mobile force could cost
between $50 billion and $100 billion less per year, and actually
contend with current military threats or situations far better.
A military that upgrades its aircraft and submarines when there
is no external threat to justify such action is also a military
that may be too eager to try out its new hardware when it should
not. The future prospects for peace and prosperity, and the
safety of the valiant individuals who serve this country, depend
on a more restrained military.
Flags of Our Fathers
by James Bradley
Deliver Us from Evil:
Peacekeepers, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict
by William Shawcross
The Coming Anarchy: Shattering
the Dreams of the Post Cold War
by Robert D. Kaplan
of My Fathers: A Family Memoir
by John McCain
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