This week, Iâ€™m again writing about a topic that Iâ€™m very passionate about: our bloated defense budget.
There is simply no excuse for our global military presence. The Pentagon officially acknowledges 856 military installations on international soil, but this figure omits all of the bases in Iraq and Afghanistan â€“â€“ not to mention countless other bases that surely exist in secret.
World War II ended more than 65 years ago, yet we still have more than 50,000 troops stationed in Germany and almost as many in Japan. We even have bases in Aruba, Djibouti and Australia. Apparently, when our troops arenâ€™t protecting freedom, theyâ€™re playing golf, seeing as the Pentagon owns and operates more than 230 golf courses worldwide. Oh, and have I mentioned the ski resort in the Bavarian Alps?
We simply canâ€™t afford to be so frivolous. Essentially, all of these bases are slowly becoming Chinaâ€™s since theyâ€™re the ones financing the majority of our debt. We canâ€™t even afford the interest payments right now, yet the obscenely distended defense budget is untouchable when cuts are mentioned.
We were fortunate that our infrastructure wasnâ€™t blown apart in WWII like Europeâ€™s or Japanâ€™s and that Soviet Russia collapsed to bring an end to the Cold War. We emerged so powerful from these circumstances that we became the worldâ€™s most dominant military force almost by default. The U. N. and NATO have been seemingly lulled into inaction by the assumption that the U. S. will take care of problems that may arise. At this point, we have neither the resources nor the moral superiority to stand on to be policing the world.
Dwight Eisenhower, that Ã¼ber-liberal commie pinko 34th president of ours, went so far as to address the growing dominance of the militaryâ€™s might in his farewell address to the nation, warning, â€œWe must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.â€ Itâ€™s astounding to me to think that Eisenhower, a Republican conservative and a five-star general in the U.S. Army, World War II hero and two-term commander-in-chief of the armed services would dedicate a significant portion of his final address to the nation as president to warning us about the dangers of letting the influence of the military grow too large.
The phrase â€œmilitary industrial complexâ€ brings up another point of its own: what military dominance and war are really about is big business. Thereâ€™s little truth to the lies that weâ€™ve been sold about protecting our freedoms abroad. Slap on an American flag, a bald eagle and drag Toby Keith out to drawl some pseudo-patriotic drivel on the radio across middle America and voila! Youâ€™ve got yourself support for the latest freedom-defending war effort in some tiny far-away country that doesnâ€™t actually pose any true threat to our safety or our liberties.
Taxpayers are repeatedly expected to bear the burden of paying for such endeavors. Thereâ€™s usually some half-baked justification for our military action, often under the guise of overthrowing a ruthless regime or liberating helpless oppressed masses. The reality is that we often interfere with other peoplesâ€™ freedom by imposing our values and political whims on other nations while funneling billions to evil empires such as Halliburton and mercenaries like Blackwater in the process.
If the U.S. is to become solvent, we must realize that history is littered with the ashes of empires.
Joe Vajgrt is a junior journalism major. His column appears on Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to email@example.com.