The US military is a subject Americans love to talk about, unfortunately it isn’t a subject that we like to think about. Fortunately, since our military is a volunteer one that is only a problem for the less than 1% of Americans in the military, or the people in the 130 or so nations with US military bases on their soil. The average American citizen can remain blissfully thoughtless as to what our military does, well at least until they have to pay for the approximately $700 billion/year military budget plus the $3.7 trillion spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (so far…). However, it is an issue that demands critical thought, because it is an issue with deep moral ramifications for our country. It is a question of whether we view our military as a force to protect us from harm or one to enforce our will on nations and dominate their peoples.
The United States is by far the most prolific military spender, outspending more than the next 13 countries with the highest military budgets in the world. In terms of total military spending worldwide the US accounts for 41% of the total figure. Yet some people do not seem to believe that we are spending enough on our military. In regards to the automatic defense cuts which would go into place if congress were unable to compromise on a budget last year, vice presidential candidate and supporter of said automatic cuts Paul Ryan said the following in his recent debate with Vice President Biden,
“We should not be imposing these devastating defense cuts … When we show that we’re cutting down on defense, it makes us more weak. It projects weakness. And when we look weak, our adversaries are much more willing to test us.”
The Romney / Ryan campaign has instead proposed increasing the already bloated military budget by a projected $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years by enforcing a minimum of a base defense budget (note: this does not include war spending) equal to 4% of the US GDP.
Obviously, increasing this budget would require cuts from other programs or increased taxes. While the classic “butter vs. bullet” debate surrounding the issue of cutting spending for social programs and public goods (ie. roads, schools, power plants, etc.) to pay for military spending is debate worth having, there is a question which is almost always ignored in the mainstream media debate. That is, “why do we have a military anyway”?
If the military is simply an organization for the defense of the American people, it is far more than we need, even to simply scare off any thought of aggression against us. The 5,000 nuclear warheads our military has at its disposal, enough to make the planet uninhabitable for humanity, should be far more threatening to any attacker than a massive complex of worldwide US military bases . It is also deployed in such a manner worldwide that is too costly and provokes a great deal of anger among the populations of our allies and our occupied territories. The only logical conclusion is that the military is not being deployed simply for our defense, but for a more sinister purpose, as a means of subjugating foreign populations and threatening nations to comply with our will.
This isn’t to suggest that those who are serving in the military are necessarily complicit in this. Most of the people serving in the military do so to acquire a college education or to serve the stated purpose of our military, to serve the American people. However, those in charge of our military policy feel that America has an implicit right to not only place our security above that of others, but our interests as well. People, particularly soldiers and veterans, need to speak out against this domineering use of our military. Otherwise when memorials like the one on UCF’s memory mall taint the honor of those who have served to defend us, by standing not just for our freedom, but for the freedom we deny others.