The Constitution is quite clear on matters of war.
We were not meant to have an enormous, world-straddling military hegemony. What military we did possess was meant as a defense mechanism only and not a tool of global dominance. The founders were quite implicit in their writings and in the Constitution itself – we didn’t want to become another British empire.
As has been demonstrated over the years, our huge military stationed 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 the bulk of our forces are stationed on every continent.
Yet we never question our nation’s military strategy and tactics as a whole, despite disagreeing with this war or that. Has how we do things made us any better as a country? Has it made us safer? It is clear from the available evidence that it has not.
Having deployed to the middle east as part of the battle group enforcing Operation Southern Watch, I saw first hand what an enormous waste of this country’s time and energy our military strategy is. 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 waste of money and resources that could be better allocated elsewhere.
When the international community faces 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 – often all three – about ourselves, our allies and the Soviets.
I see 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 they contributed to the militarization of the globe. We sell and buy more military equipment than the rest of the world combined.
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.
Until we draw our military back inside our borders and project peace instead of aggression, 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 empires if we keep it up, though. There is absolutely no reason to have 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. It should be an enormous pain in the ass to get involved in a war. World War II is a good example. 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” operating as independent units inside their regions until needed by the nation. They would be able and ready to 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 it military costs way more than is needed and delivers an 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 that we stop being the world’s police and start promoting a multinational force that can respond to these emergencies. I think it is far past time we stop footing the bill for solving the world’s problems alone. By spreading the responsibility for our common global security equally, we 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, the camps that our now our national disgrace were a sign of our grace when 60,000 migrants decided to find our shores and ended up in Cuba instead. There is a way to accomplish these missions more effectively and humanely. We need to kill the military industrial complex first.
I don’t argue that we have done some good over the years, 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 the criticism we get about being imperialistic in our aims. Our military has largely been an arm of our corporate and political strategies rather than being an option of last resort.
I am not a military budget analyst nor do I know what the final make-up of our new forces 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 with one deployed and one in training, each able to respond quickly to an emergency when requested. We could even have ships forward deployed on good-will cruises and the like. We currently have 11 carriers 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, though 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.
The president campaigned on changing 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 other item on our national 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, so government isn’t providing the services best distributed at the local level. In this way, the federal government would be 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. A series of well-funded and focused programs delivered in new and innovative ways just might bring the 80-percent of our country left behind for the last 40 years up to speed.
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 non-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, countering a long-standing conservative argument against government.
Next year I’ll blog about the money wasted nationally on the War on Drugs and our Prison Industrial Complex. Disgraceful. Add that to money to 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.