Saturday, January 8, 2011

Army of World Capitalism

Since Robert Gates recently called for reductions in defense spending, an interesting and, to many, surprising statistic has been in the press — the fact that the United States military is larger than all the other armies in the world, combined. Some even are daring to ask why. Why is our Department of Defense so large, what is it defending, and what is it defending against?

Thirty years ago, we could be told it was defending us from "the Communist threat." These days, it's hard to justify such a force to "protect" us from Cuba, North Korea and (maybe) Vietnam. China's system, over the years, has "developed" into fascism, and they're hardly likely to try to destroy us while we owe them so much money.

Right now we have roughly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan "defending" us from a few hundred "terrorists," most of whom are in Pakistan. There are close to another 50,000 still in Iraq — but they're not (ahem!) "combat" troops. We have troops deployed in over 150 countries around the world, and some questions are in order:
  • Why are there as many troops in Germany as in Iraq? Are the Nazis making a comeback?
  • Why almost 10,000 troops in the UK? Are we expecting another blitz?
  • Why do we need another 10,000 in Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar if Iraq is "at peace?"
  • From what threat are nearly 33,000 US troops defending Japan?
  • With all those troops in Japan, what's the need for another 28,000 in South Korea? Foot soldiers would not be especially effective against North Korean nukes.
Let's not forget the Navy, which has ships sailing around every body of water in the world big enough to hold them. In brief, why does the United States need a worldwide military presence?

To me, the answer if fairly obvious. Multinational corporations have a worldwide presence, and the United States seems to be stuck with the task of defending them (and their profitability) worldwide. Which leads to another question: why us? There are plenty of European and Asian and Middle Eastern plutocrats profiting from World Capitalism, and even some Latin Americans and Africans getting into the mix. Upholding the world plutocracy is expensive! Why can't some of those other countries pick up some of the expense?

Notice that I'm not calling for the plutocrats to pay for their own protection from popular uprisings, sticky fingered premiers and prime ministers with a penchant for nationalization, and those who want to replace the current monopolists with new monopolists. I know that's impossible.

The plutocrats don't pay — they just take. It follows that I'm not expecting anybody in the US government to make a serious effort to block raising the debt ceiling. Where would their corporate patrons go for their "defense?"

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