Of all the money spent by governments on this planet for military expenditures, 40% of it is spent by the United States government. The only two nations considered to be potential adversaries, Russia and China, spend 12% of that total—combined; that’s less than one-third of U.S. expenditures. Such an advantage well used would be a good thing. Such an advantage misused can have disastrous consequences.
In the aftermath of World War II, the United States was the sole nuclear power in the world. It used this position to orchestrate the overthrow of the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, in 1953 and to place Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in power. This grievous foreign policy mistake led to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and the Iranian and American governments have been at odds with each other ever since.
Neoconservatives in the Bush administration convinced the United States, the sole superpower for a decade, to invade Iraq. The idea behind it was to create a western-style democracy that would lead to the remaking of the Middle East. Again, it proved to be a grievous foreign policy mistake, resulting in the deaths of more than 4,000 Americans and trillions of dollars in expenditures (the cost of the war itself, plus benefits to be paid to veterans). In addition, it contributed to the deaths of approximately 500,000 Iraqi civilians. And now, after all this loss of life and treasure, there continue to be seemingly daily bombings in Iraq, with even more civilians being killed. Islamic militants, who held no sway prior to the U.S. invasion, are surging in Iraq.
Where do we go from here?
The United States is $17.5 trillion in debt, having increased the national debt by $774 billion in just the first six and a half months of the 2014 fiscal year. The economy has not seen any real growth for 14 years. Real wages for the middle class have been stagnant for 40 years. None of the current trends should lead anyone to think that the U.S. government can continue financing 40% of all of the military spending in the world.
There is nothing in the track records of the Republicans or Democrats in our nation’s capital, nor in the track record of the banking cartel known as the Federal Reserve, that should lead anyone to believe that they will find a way out of this mess they have created. Therefore, we will have to reduce, in real dollars, our military expenditures and our overseas commitments. We cannot afford to keep engaging in elective military engagements and meddling in the affairs of other nations.
We would do well to heed the words of Thomas Jefferson at his first inaugural:
Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.
We need to end all foreign aid, military and economic. Our allies in Europe, Japan, and elsewhere should increase their own military spending. How can we afford to be the ATM for the world, when our infrastructure is in need of repair and our economy is in desperate need of reductions in federal spending, federal taxes, and federal regulations?
We need to close all of our foreign military bases and bring all military personnel stationed there home. If there is truly a need for a few of these bases, then let that case be made within the context of a reasonable foreign policy; but we do not need to have a military presence in countries all over the world. The true purpose of our military policy should be to protect the American people and to keep the sea lanes open for our economy’s commercial activities.
A reasonable foreign policy will require fewer personnel and less money from hardworking Americans, while making it easier to keep our financial commitments to the veterans who have borne the brunt of the personal cost of the policies of the last two administrations.
2012 Libertarian Party presidential candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson stated:
Protecting America with a strong national defense and a rational foreign policy is our leaders’ most basic responsibility. But let us not confuse national security with senseless intervention where our interests are clearly not being served.
I could not agree more.
—Ken Hamilton, LPAR Executive Committee member