I don’t have exact numbers, but I’m almost positive I spend more time than the average American thinking about the military industrial complex. In the process of watching this 2015 Vox video asking, “Why does the US have 800 military bases around the world?” I got to thinking…
From the Vox video embedded below:
Taxpayers pay between ten and forty thousand dollars more per soldier stationed abroad than they do for those stationed here domestically, but this cost seems to be worth it to most lawmakers.
Worth it? This cost comes at the expense of healthcare, education and infrastructure at home and the dignity and autonomy of other nations.
Money spent to maintain bases elsewhere is money that’s not going into eradicating any of the US’ internal problems. It gives government more things to do, making it bigger. The equipment and services that go into maintaining those bases is money directly into the bank accounts of the executives of the corporations that provide that equipment and services, instead of tax dollars kept in the families and communities that make up America.
Foreign bases provide a profit motive for war and increased militarization.
If you always have people on standby to invade a nearby country, why not manufacture reasons to raid them for their natural resources? If you have warriors trained for battle that are far from home, why not outfit them with expensive armor, tanks and machinery? If you’re already making armor and tanks for the military, why not try to find an excuse for police departments at home to have them?
Whether intentional or indirectly, our military presence around the world weakens the US at home and breeds fear and resentment abroad.
With hundreds of bases around the world, we’re like a hovering parent to the rest of the world–not paying enough attention to our own lives and being overly involved in others’. Who appreciates that? No one. Why wouldn’t other countries have problems with us? We don’t take care of our own citizens, yet because of our power, we’re in the position to terrorize the citizens of their respective countries if they choose priorities the US doesn’t like.
Our foreign military presence is dangerous.
It blinds us to how easy it is for the US to abuse other nations. Our belief in the necessity of our foreign military presence puts us in a false bind where we don’t believe that we can possibly fix what ails this country from within. We think that we don’t have the resources or that we have to produce more products or make more money to fix them, instead of realizing that all we have to do is allocate our resources better. Translation: we have to stop spending energy in the forms of money and people to police the rest of the world and spend them to fix our part of it.
In the process of reducing or eliminating our foreign presence, we’d stop destroying and intimidating the rest of the world, too. By tapping our people power and having more vibrant communities, we could even stimulate innovation in such a huge way, that we don’t have to strip other countries of their natural resources. We could even come up with solutions to persistent problems like poverty, education and fossil fuels dependence that would ultimately end up helping the entire world and planet.
Call me naive, but I think this the real meaning of the phrase “Charity begins at home and ends abroad.”
Even if it isn’t, what are the downsides of trying this approach? Sure we’ll have to hold ourselves accountable for what we’ve allowed, but look where not holding ourselves has gotten us. The US is a divided country with rampant systemic inequality, rampant wealth inequality and a diminishing moral standing in the rest of the world. There’s no getting around accountability if the US is going to evolve as a nation.
We have nothing to lose but our bullshit.