Once the Cold War ended around 1989-1991 the reason to keep the huge machine died out. Our once mighty enemy was now focused inwardly on its own myriad struggles. Yet much of our overseas military apparatus built up during the Cold War kept going. It stayed in place as excuse after excuse kept coming in its favor. It was as if those that secretly worshiped some archaic god of war, instead of the one most commonly prayed to in the US military, kept hoping their messiah would deliver them another reason to kick the massive gears into play again so they could feel fulfilled and rid themselves of the emptiness they must have now felt.
So we kept spending and spending to keep the bloated fiefdom intact spending what at this point is over 40% of the entire amount of money spent around the world when adding the military budgets of every single nation in the world together. It was believed our presence in certain areas kept those places stabilized so that businesses vital to our national economic interests were protected. But this is 2011 and the Cold War has been over for decades. There are no economic interests in any of those regions that are really “ours.” The interests in question are owned and operated by private corporations that make their own riches off of their factories, oil fields, agricultural enterprises and more.
But the idea these are our collective interests is preposterous. The reasons factories have been relocated by American firms from here to other places is financial. Usually it is because to manufacture there is cheaper than to do so here due to currency deals between our government and theirs. In fact it runs counter to the interests of most of us as those are good jobs that once helped raise the standard of living, tax base and purchasing power of a significant amount of Americans. Those are the exported jobs that turned once mighty US cities into rusted out ghostly shells of the places they once were.
The oil fields are not our concerns either in the larger sense as private security firms could be hired by the companies in question to guard their fields. We could reduce the footprint by more than half as is demonstrated by all the current turmoil. After all when the region broke out in protests for freedom recently our generals were openly reticent about going into Libya let alone all the other nations currently being turned upside down by rioting. They have already acknowledged if things get worse there is really nothing we can do. We really aren’t doing much there now.
In the end we may need some overseas bases but certainly not the amount there are today nor the size of the contingents. Plush million dollar overseas American military golf courses are a reality staring back at us from the mirror saying we’ve been there way too long and certain people have become way too comfortable spending our tax dollars overseas where we can’t see what they’re being spent on.
At one point private security contractors made up much of the American fighting contingent in Iraq. There are more than enough to handle the work.
Overseas corporations based in the US are not hiring Americans predominantly to do their work overseas but instead the cheapest labor they can get their hands on.
We are currently paying for wealthy corporations to feel as though they can feel safe and secure and don’t have to pay for it. For what? They can afford it themselves. Do we pay for their janitorial services? Do we train and pay the salaries of their management for them without sharing in the profits? Of course not we would find that ridiculous. Yet we pay for their security.
Perhaps they should be paying us in return for our donations to their sense of comfort. When we extended aid to corporations during the bailouts and stimulus packages of 2008 – 2009 many felt we had a right to tell those companies what to do since we had such a stake in them. Perhaps we should do the same with corporations we provide security to.
Or maybe each company we provide security for should have to donate an equal amount of money to building better schools in our inner cities and other impoverished parts of the nation. Perhaps they should pay for transportation and infrastructure investments. Perhaps they should pay for emergency services. If not perhaps they should forfeit American military protection for their interests overseas.
Either that or its time we simply tell those companies to pay for their own security guards. That does not imply we weaken or give less support to our troops - never. It’s just that we recognize the Cold War is over and we no longer need them there spread out over 700 – 800 bases - like the 50,000+ troops in Germany for instance that we still have no clue exactly why they are still there in 2011. World War II ended in 1945. If certain members of Congress feel paying for security for those companies is how our taxes should be spent though the American public has no vested interest in doing so then those large corporations can pay the same amount that goes to protecting them overseas to worthy causes – public causes – back home. It’s just a matter of balancing the books really.
To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.