An American Renaissance – Turning Our Military Industrial Capacity Into Entrepreneurial & Non-Profit Capacity 6


It is clear from the Constitution that we were not meant to have an enormous, world-straddling military.  That what military we did possess should used as a defense mechanism and not a tool of global dominance.  The founders were quite implicit in their writings and in the Constitution itself that we didn’t want to be another British empire.

That was the whole point of founding the country in the first place.

As has been shown over the years, a huge military being sent overseas to project power has been one of the main downfalls of this country.  It is anathema to everything we stood for right up until World War II. We had zero troops stationed overseas prior to World War II. Now most of our troops are stationed around the world.

Yet, we never question our military strategy and tactics.  Has how we do things made us any better as a country? Has it made us safer?  It is quite clear from the available evidence that it has not.

Having served in the US Navy and gone overseas as part of a forward deployed battle group, I have seen first hand what an enormous waste of this country’s time and energy our military strategy is.  Plus, it is wasting the time and energy of our most capable citizens!  Most of the countries we go to would rather we not be there, except for our tourist dollars. They are suspicious of our motives, as well they should be when a carrier parks off their shores with a full air wing and a battle group steaming behind.

The military is huge waster of money and resources that could be better allocated elsewhere.

When the International Community is facing an existential threat, such as World War II, power projection beyond our borders in defense of the common good is worthwhile. Attacking Korea or Vietnam or Panama or Grenada or Iraq in 2003 is not worthwhile. It is counter-productive. We “saved” southeast Asia from communism and turned them into Islamic countries instead, a new “enemy” to justify more military action.

Every foreign military action since the end of World War II has been unconstitutional and to our detriment. Most of our Cold War foreign policy was based on assumptions that proved to be drastically false or paranoid or naive – about ourselves, our allies and the Soviets.

I had no problem helping to rebuild Japan and Europe following World War II or responding to humanitarian crisis’s with a well-trained and forward deployable military, but permanent military bases around the world have been not only a huge waste of resources, but it has contributed to the militarization of the globe. We sell and buy more military equipment than the rest of the world combined.

Eisenhower warned us about this shit and we didn’t listen.  There is not a single thing our huge, forward deployed military couldn’t have done if they were instead a more local force of state militias supported by a strong US Navy to project power if and when it is needed.

Wait.

There is one thing state militias and a smaller Navy/Marine Corps couldn’t have done: Feed the military industrial complex.

Having served in the military for ten years, I would say I have a decent idea of just how much justification exists for the GIGANTIC military we have, absent some sort of contrived imperial adventure: zero.

Until we draw our military back inside our borders and project peace instead, we will continue to add to the misery on this globe and continue to be the only imperial force currently in operation.  I bet we spawn a couple more if we keep it up, though.  There is absolutely no reason to have any bases outside the US.  Further, it is a betrayal of our local communities to close bases in the US to open bigger and better bases overseas.  That money should stay in our local economies.  There isn’t a single thing that shouldn’t be changed about our military strategies and posture in the world.  We have caused way more grief than we solved.

Declaring war should be one of the hardest things we do and it should be an enormous pain in the ass to get involved in a war. World War II is a good example of that. We had to turn the entire manufacturing capacity of the nation to get into that war. The shit wasn’t just laying around waiting to be used.

I would have 50 state militias that operate as independent units inside their regions until needed by the nation. They can respond to natural disasters and such, train for war, give the gun enthusiasts some automatic weapons to play with and generally be a good thing for each state.  I would support them with a much smaller Navy and Marine Corps on each coast that is available for rapid deployment overseas if and when needed.  Our military should cost no more than 10 to 20 billion a year to maintain. Our it military costs more than 50 times that and delivers and amazingly low return on investment.

We need to pull our collective heads out of our asses and come up with some new and innovative ideas for the future.

I am proposing is that we stop being the world’s police force and start promoting a multinational force that can respond to these emergencies. I think it is about time we stop footing the bill for solving the world’s problems alone. By spreading the responsibility for our common global security equally, we can drastically cut our military budget in the short term and move to a much slimmer force in the future that perhaps has other things as its primary mission than kicking ass and taking names.

We were all pretty damn proud to have come to the rescue of Miami following Hurricane Andrew.  In Guantanamo Bay I saw the camps that our now our disgrace as being a sign of our grace.  There is a way to do this stuff more effectively and humanely.  We need to kill the military industrial complex first.

I don’t argue that we have done some good, but I feel the same (or more) good could have been done within the context of a more powerful United Nations or some other multi-national context that spread the responsibility among nations rather than investing it all in the US. Likewise, it would diffuse some of the criticism we get about being imperialistic in our aims. Our military as largely been an arm of our corporate and political strategies rather than being an option of last resort.

I am not really a military budget analyst nor do I know what the final make-up of that force might look like or what it would cost, but since the Cold War is over I suggest we stop trying to start a new one with “Islamic Terrorism” as our perpetual enemy vice the Soviets.  I think we could have four carrier battle groups, two on each coast, and be able to respond quickly to an emergency where we were requested. We could even have ships forward deployed on good-will cruises and the like. We currently have 11 that cost us billions and provide no noticeable value unless we plan on fighting two Iraq wars at the same time.

I would like to change the idea that we should ever be capable of fighting two wars of choice at the same time without a huge amount of national sacrifice as we saw in World War II.

No threat of lesser proportion should demand such an overwhelming response from American military forces.

I don’t even think being a strict constructionist about the constitutional make-up of our military is the answer, but it is clear we have gone far afield of what the framers originally intended as the proper use of military forces and the separation of powers between Congress and the President with regards to the military.  I would love nothing better than to revisit the entire notion of how our military is composed, what will be its 21st Century mission and how does that become melded with our overall vision as a country.

Barack says he would like to change the very mindset that sent us to war in Iraq. I think a drastic reduction in our military forces is a good place to start that evolution of thinking.

At the end of the day, it will probably be a two-fold change with the US beginning to change its military stance in bits and spurts while the rest of the world comes together more often to confront international challenges. I think we will never begin those conversation, though, without the United States, admittedly the world’s leading death merchant, changing its military posture first.

Our current military strategies all but say we are prepared to kick anyone’s ass at any time for any reason whether the international community agrees or not. This is compounded by our economic policies that allow for a behemoth defense industry that basically keeps the entire world armed to the teeth. We aren’t the only ones supplying the weapons to be sure, but we are by far the biggest.

Hard to advocate for peace and cooperation with such national priorities as those.

Once we change that mindset, then we start seeing the current military budget as huge honey pot of funds to take care of every item on Barack’s agenda.  It becomes a huge pool of resources that we can channel into things that give us a return on investment that no amount imperialism can’t provide.

We can fully funded the non-profit sector, then government wouldn’t be providing the services best distributed at the local level and can counter a main criticism of your average republican.  In this way, the federal government would setting a standard and funding the efforts in whatever way maximizes effectiveness.  The non-profit sector has been very good at distributing social services at a fraction of the cost of government.  So, great return on investment with a series of well-funded and focused programs to bring the 80-percent of our country left behind for the last 40 years.  Check.

Likewise, a robust Fourth Sector (For Profit, For Good companies) with the right funding could quickly pursue the technology we need to transition to clean energy.  Subsidizing Oil and Agribusiness is not a good return on investment.  Subsidizing clean energy entrepreneurs and on-profit efforts provides a huge return on investment.  Slimming down the federal government, increasing state and local budgets and taking a more humble stance in the world all seemed doable by spending the money we already spend more effectively.  In fact, by doing things more efficiently and effectively, we would be able to alleviate the individual’s tax burden in the long run, again countering a long-standing republican argument.

We are a constitutional republic that has finally devolved into a military dictatorship.  Sure, we have different terms – SWAT, Commander in Chief, FBI, DEA, etc.   Time for We The People to do something about it.

First step in implementing an American Renaissance?  Elect Barack Obama in a landslide of historical proportions come November.

Next time I’ll blog about the money wasted nationally on the War on Drugs and our Prison Industrial Complex.  Disgraceful.  Add that to money the national pile and all of a sudden the enormous investments we MUST pay for as a country don’t seem so out of reach.

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6 thoughts on “An American Renaissance – Turning Our Military Industrial Capacity Into Entrepreneurial & Non-Profit Capacity

  • codegen86

    Hey, don’t knock the military industrial complex. It’s wealth redistribution at its best, and rich people love it!

    But wasn’t the real point of no return the Spanish-American war? Correct me if I’m wrong, but the US did have troops overseas before WWII, including in mainland China.

    Great post though. The problem with big standing armies is that they’re a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If they can’t find a war, they’ll make one. It’d be a shame to not use all that shiny and expensive military hardware…

    • JasonEverettMiller

      We had troops overseas at various times for various reasons, but there were no permanent US military bases overseas or permanent Status of Forces Agreements with foreign countries prior to World War II. That was purely a Cold War strategy that has seen its day. It’s like continuing to fight leukemia with leeches.

  • clearthinker

    You may want to look around: we have become that entrepreneurial place you dream of.

    Once upon a time, the military was the most advanced users of technology. That time is long gone.

    Why?

    Because of the advances in technology. In order to amortize the costs of the hardware for a cell phone, for example, you have to sell millions of them.

    The government, even the US, can’t absorb that type of cost. As a result, the government and the DoD are now subservient to a large extent to the mass markets.

    The problem is that when we buy our computer chips from China: a) the supply isn’t guaranteed and b) the chips may be rigged with backdoor codes.

    This isn’t the stuff of dramas on television, it’s a reality for today.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      Well your A and B scenario is the main plot point in a film I wrote called Sword of Damocles. If we aren’t careful, our imperialism will lead to imperialism by others. There is always a Yin and a Yang in any society. In our case, that is usually expressed militarily.

      I think we are actually wasting money over and over, on contract after contract with no accountability because all the crooks involved are making TONS of money. I don’t think things like clean energy and sustainable farming and transforming education and building green infrastructure can be left up to the market.

      I also think the federal government should not care about “markets” except in the most abstract of terms for macroeconomic strategic purposes and to regulate them. Our invests are more long-term than the “markets” could ever deliver.

      I would love to see us challenge all of our obviously false assumptions, but more especially the assumption that we could spend a trillion dollars a year on “defense” and have the effect be anything other than a more dangerous world, for ourselves and everyone else.

  • notthere

    I continue to fight for “existential” to be used as defined, not in the new, “it means what I want it to mean”, fashion. This is all part of the Repug style of newspeak word use.

    Good article though.