CHARLESTON, W.Va. --America is the most militaristic nation on Earth, spending $1 trillion of taxpayer money yearly for warmaking -- outstripping all other nations combined. Why? What's the point of trying to police the entire planet, when other democracies don't feel this compulsion? Especially when the policing doesn't really work?
Col. Andrew Bacevich knows war well. He graduated from West Point, fought in Vietnam, then earned a Ph.D. and became a professor at Boston University. His son was killed in action in Iraq in 2007.
Dr. Bacevich now scorns America's role as the sole remaining military superpower. He expressed his contempt in a book, The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War. He said Americans love military swagger, such as former President Bush playing "Top Gun" as he landed in uniform on an aircraft carrier before a "Mission Accomplished" banner.
"Today, as never before in their history, Americans are enthralled with military power," he wrote. If the U.S. "militaristic cast of mind" continues, he said, "America will surely share the fate of all those who in ages past have looked to war and military power to fulfill their destiny. We will rob future generations of their rightful inheritance. We will wreak havoc abroad. We will endanger our security at home. We will risk the forfeiture of all that we prize."
Last week, writing in the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Bacevich said a "new world order" is rising, with various nations booming economically while America pours hundreds of billions into militarism -- burdened by "too many obligations piled high without the wherewithal to meet them."
He said Washington indulges "the fiction of American omnipotence -- persisting in our penchant for fighting distant wars of dubious purpose." He added that "spending hundreds of billions vainly attempting to pacify Afghanistan is unlikely to help much."
He wrote that "Washington has become an intellectual dead zone" where "shoveling money into the maw of the military-industrial complex seems the top Republican priority."
Washington is convulsing over the colossal national debt. But that debt easily could be curbed if militarism were reduced. The "official" Pentagon budget was $680 billion last year, but the total soars to $1 trillion when veteran care is added, plus interest on past military spending done with borrowed money, plus other off-budget outlays.
America is bankrupting itself to remain an armed superpower. Other nations don't do it. Why does America damage itself in this manner?
Editorial, Aug. 25, 2011: Militarism is a horrendous waste - Editorials - The Charleston Gazette - West Virginia News and Sports -