It is very unlikely that the United States will cut the military budget or end wars in Central Asia until the concept of maintaining world influence by militarily presence is discredited and abandoned.
The sudden eruption of the democracy movement in the Arab nations has made it obvious that Americans have little control over the real world in spite of their more than 900 military bases on foreign soil. It is also obvious that the US government was surprised by these events, which is a noteworthy failure of its extensive and expensive intelligence establishment to understand the world in which they live.
While we, the Americans, wait for the Arab peoples eruptions to settle into recognizable governments, there is little we can do to preserve our commercial and political arrangements in their world. Our first response to the demonstrations in Egypt was to send a battleship with 800 troops on board several days after most Americans had left. This ‘gunboat diplomacy’ is an indication of 19th Century thinking in response to 21st Century events.
The the effort to establish worldwide influence (hegemony) by force is militarizing the American society and limiting their future. For all who love peace, who want to build collective security through the United Nations, and to focus on laying the foundations for the nation’s future, the top priority must be to end the US addiction to the failed promise of military domination. It should also be the top priority of those who want a reasonable national budget, a healthy economy and the funds available to deal with national and world problems.
Over and over again we, the American people, are told that our huge military and its worldwide distribution is in the ‘National Interest.’ This phrase is constantly used and never explained. Sometimes it means defense, sometimes it means profitable trade or access to markets and cheap labor, sometimes it means protecting energy sources, or outdated promises to defend a friendly nation. Its vagueness makes it the ideal garment to cloak any action. It should always be questioned; we must ask, what does national interest mean in this case?
Is it in the Americans’ national interest to maintain over 900 foreign military bases? Why do they need them? “In fact, the purpose of their overseas bases is to maintain U.S. dominance in the world, and to reinforce what military analyst Charles Maier calls ‘empire of consumption.’ The United States possesses less than five percent of global population but consumes about one quarter of all global resources, including petroleum. The American empire exists so they can exploit a much greater share of the world’s wealth than we, the Americans, are entitled to, and so we can prevent other nations from combining against us to take their rightful share.”
In an effort to maintain hegemony (influence) or empire (dominance) we, the Americans, have been increasing the military budget, bases, technologies and plans for future wars. Meanwhile, 15 million American families suffer from being unemployed, millions more are homeless, one in five children are disadvantaged by poverty, the US states are facing bankruptcy, etc. The US national infrastructure is failing and we are not making the investments necessary to maintain a decent future for the US citizens.
On the Op-Ed page of the New York Times on 2-19-11 there is a chart comparing the best and worst of 33 advanced nations. The U.S. is among the “Worst of the worst” in income inequality, food insecurity, life expectancy, prison population, and math scale score. We, the American people, are among the worst in unemployment.
The US huge national debt, primarily caused by constantly rising military expenses, are now resulting in budget cuts of programs for working people, the sick and the poor. At the same time we are failing to invest in green energy systems that could replace fossil fuels and reduce the impact of damaging climate change.
Who is Served by Hegemony? Large international corporations, that are in search of energy and other resources, including minerals, cheap labor and open markets. For these giants, the presence of the U.S. Military makes it easier for them to operate. The public pays for the military and its wars, while the corporations are the major beneficiaries.
The total gross domestic products (GDP) of the European Union now exceeds that of the United States. In those nations the percentage of GDP spent on the military averages 1.6 %. Ours in 2010, counting only the Pentagon and DOE, was over 5.4% of GDP. The US total military expenditures are greater than the rest of the world taken together.
In spite of the US overwhelming military presence and its many “Command” areas, the Chinese economy is growing much faster than ours. China is buying the resources it needs worldwide, from oil in the Sudan to food-growing land in Africa. We, the Americans, could have bought vast quantities of oil for the money spent on war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Furthermore, such purchases would not have inflamed Islamists and attracted more anti-US bombers as the US wars, bombings and drone attacks have done.
The fact is that the US reliance upon a huge military to advance the “interests” of the United States has been a failure. It has drained Americans’ human and financial resources at home, and created new hostilities abroad. It is time to abandon the goal of world domination and to accept the fact that in a changing world there are new centers of power that can more effectively be approached as potential partners in building a more secure world and limiting the damages of climate change.
The American peace movement should work to discredit, criticize, expose and oppose the ineffective and unaffordable model of world hegemony, empire and domination. By attacking the root idea we, the American people, can achieve greater cuts in military spending than by just opposing the wars and their weapons. We must eliminate most foreign bases and all super embassies. We must create new and more dramatic ways to reach out to all Americans with the truth that our world military presence and support of dictators encourages anti-US sentiments.
Finally, the peace movement must project a vision of our lives and tax money invested in the welfare, education and opportunities of our children. We, the Americas, want to rebuild the national infrastructure for the future of the United States. The American people want their nation to lead the world in the production of alternative energy systems and, after replacing their own fossil fuels, export them (rather than deadly military equipment) to a world threatened by climate change. If the Arab peoples living under dictatorships can change their societies, surely the American people can change their national priorities by peaceful action in the framework of our democracy.
(The Information Clearing House)