“If we don’t stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we’re going to have a serious problem.” — George W. Bush, Jan. 2001.
As the United States of America sinks daily into a deeper swamp of debt, mortgaging itself to any lender willing to finance its profligate ways, one might expect its government to look closely for ways to cut expenses. Indeed, should a third party auditor look at our national books, one area of expense would be particularly striking.
The USA is the world’s only “superpower.” Despite all the political rhetoric, fearmongering and hyperbole to the contrary, there is no nation on the planet that poses any serious military threat to the United States.
Nevertheless, the USA spends hundreds of billions of dollars every year to maintain armed forces and a web of bases that stretch literally across the globe.
Consider these facts. The U.S. has over 2.2 million men and women in uniform in all branches of the military. The U.S. maintains over 5,000 military bases, including 832 overseas bases in over 120 different countries. There are over 250,000 US troops stationed at overseas bases (exclusive of “war” zones in Iraq and Afghanistan). Additionally many of these troops are on “accompanied tours” meaning their dependents are living on the bases as well. Further, there are hundreds of thousands of DOD civilians, private contractors and miscellaneous parasites also attached to these bases. Over 60 years after the end of WWII, there are still over 65,000 US troops stationed in Germany and over 35,000 stationed in Japan.
Perhaps nothing illustrates the waste and extravagance of our military establishment more than the disaster that is referred to as “the Iraq War.” The cost of the “war” in Iraq is now well over $600 billion, and has been estimated to be as high as $3 trillion. The US taxpayer becomes obligated to repay a hemorrhage of federal spending in Iraq that now exceeds $435 million per day. Because all the funds used to pay for this governmental boondoggle have been borrowed, largely from foreign countries, the interest expense will continue to plague us and our descendants in perpetuity. The amount spent by the U.S. in Iraq in FY 2007 came to $4,988/Iraqi. That amount is triple Iraq’s per person GDP. That is equivalent to spending $121,000 per person per year in the U.S. That doesn’t include, of course, whatever the socialist Iraqi government, installed courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer, spends. And I won’t even go into the human costs of this “war.” They are unconscionable.
This insanity is unsustainable. There is no sound reason for the United States of America to maintain 832 overseas military bases, and no money to pay for them even if there is. There is no sound reason for the citizens of this country to be bled white with taxes, and to be strapped with a mountain of perpetual federal debt, to keep over two million soldiers on the public payroll, many of whom will never leave it.
I look forward to the day when national defense returns to being just that–national defense.
As a wise man has said, we will bring our troops home eventually and we will close our overseas bases. The question is merely whether we do it now, because we want to, or later, because we have to.
I vote for now.