Friday, November 21, 2008

A helpful suggestion...

for the incoming Commander in Chief of the United States military forces.

I was surprised to read recently, that today, 63 years after the end of World War II, we are still essentially occupying Germany with 50,000 (!) United States troops. Goodness!

Somehow, I don't think the Germans pose a credible threat to us (unless, of course, they are hiding WMDs and Hitler is hanging out in a spider hole with bin Laden). The "if we don't fight them there we will have to fight them here" argument falls flat these days (as does the "if we withdraw our troops we will all be speaking German" bromide). In fact, we still have 30,000 troops in Korea. North and South Korea have been in unification talks, and have even competed under one flag in athletic competitions - but I guess it would be "waving the white flag of surrender" to call it a day in the Peninsula (maybe we need a "surge" to "get the job done"?). In fact, we may have more soldiers there than they have guys named "Kim" who claim to be "9th degree black belts" and "trainers of the Korean Army" and "Olympic gold medalists" here teaching Tae Kwon Do in strip malls and giving black belts to ten year olds. In any case, the numbers are close.

But the bottom line is that empires are expensive. We have soldiers, sailors, and marines in more than 700 bases in more than 130 countries around the world. Of course, the Somali pirates don't seem to notice. But having this worldwide network of military bases to supply, manage, and man costs a lot of money. If anyone doubts that, just ask those who are paying for it (that would be the Communist Chinese, who are loaning us all the cash). In case the pols on Capital Hill and Pennsylvania Avenue haven't noticed, money is a little tight these days.

And then there is the gaping hole in the actual security of the United States - the illegal immigration that is permitting millions of foreigners to freely come and go into the U.S. with absolutely no control and no questions asked. When they enter illegally, we don't know if they have a university degree or a criminal record. We don't know if they are in demand for their skills or wanted as fugitives. If terrorists wanted to literally walk right into the United States, there's plenty of opportunity. Entire families do just that every day. The border patrol seems to be out-manned, and in some cases, outgunned.

The solution is looking us right in the face. It's all in the math.

The U.S.-Mexico border is 1,969 miles long and largely unmanned. But we have 50,000 troops in Germany making sure the Germans stay within their borders - even though E.U. membership means they're actually allowed to leave their borders. The makers of American foreign policy might be shocked to learn that the Berlin Wall has been torn down now for nearly 20 years (maybe they're still waiting for the memo from "Intelligence", or maybe there isn't a comic book edition of modern European history for the folks in Washington yet). Newsflash: we don't need to spend millions upon millions of dollars maintaining 50,000 troops in Germany.

Let's move these soldiers to the U.S.-Mexico border! 1,969 miles guarded by 50,000 troops means we can place one soldier every 207 feet!

Not only would this stem the flow of illegal immigrants and narcotics into the U.S., it would also stem the tide of U.S. dollars flowing out of our wallets and then out of the country. And, as a bonus, think of the benefits to local economies! Instead of providing jobs to Germans, we could provide jobs to Americans. There would be industries and towns along the border that would spring up.

Of course, there is a down side for American politicians, as the Republicans would have to pay Americans or legal immigrants to nanny their basically-abandoned children and scrub the floors of their palaces, and the Democrats could no longer count on the illegal aliens to supplement the dead and insane for their Democrat party votes (no doubt the folks at ACORN are bilingual). But in the long run, I think it would be a great idea to have a real border, keep American soldiers and American money in America guarding America (how novel!), and let the E.U. maintain its own military defense budget and supply jobs to their own people instead of making the U.S. taxpayer do that.

If this plan works, we could also stop providing military defense to Japan, and maybe we could even get some manpower and money to rebuild our coastlands. Instead of building an embassy in Iraq the size of Vatican City, maybe we could sell it and beef up the manpower, budget, and oversight over the Army Corps of Engineers and finally rebuild the paper-stuffed rotten levees that cost our local economy billions of dollars due to their shoddy work.

We could also use a few new roads and bridges here in America. You could rebuild a lot of infrastructure with 50,000 men and all the money we're throwing away in Germany.

But I don't expect Barack Obama to recall any soldiers to the U.S. I think he'll wait until we literally have no money to pay the 50,000 soldiers in Germany. To roll back the empire gracefully for the benefit of our own citizens would take statesmanship that I'm afraid is lacking among both major parties. Personally, I think President Obama will join conservative talk show hosts in ordering American troops into new bases in places like Greenland and Antarctica. You just never can tell what all those un-American Danish-speaking Eskimoes and suspicious waddling penguins are up to without American military supervision. WMDs? Oil? Independence of American oversight and micromanagement? So I don't expect a lot of "change" unless it is forced by absolute economic necessity - and even then, they'll probably just print more money anyway.

Besides, are these politicians capable of dividing 1,969 by 50,000 and converting the answer into feet? That would require actual thought. Just don't let the Army Corps of engineers do the math!


Steven said...

Why do people continue the lie that only Republicans are rich? OF course Nancy Pelosi would not be able to rely on illegals to pick her grapes.

FB, SSP said...

Out of all of those countries, where is our military presence required?
As far as I know, Japan's constitution prohibits them from having a military (we are their military). Is it the same with Germany?
Why are we in the UK? They have a military and they hate us. Same thing with Spain, Portugal, Iceland, Belgium, Germany, South Korea, etc. etc.

Can you find a similar map that details where and how much foreign aid we dole out?

Floyd Bass, SSP

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Read Zbigniew Brzezinski's book, The Grand Chessboard. It explains in a very organized, very clear, remarkably candid way why we need all those troops in all those places. The reasons are summed up in the opening sentence of Chapter Two: "THE prize, for America, is Eurasia." Eurasia has most of the world's population and 75% of the earth's natural resources, making control of it the obvious ultimate goal for any self-respecting empire.

Mark Twain was a founding member of the Anti-Imperialist League, an organization we maybe ought to revive.

Mike Baker said...

FYI, Japan's military is a self-defense force intended to defend the country.

Germany is a massive staging area. If you fly from the United States to say... some distant war zone, you will stop there. This is also where our critically wounded go for life-saving medical treatment before they are sent back to the United States.

My unclassified summary:
1. Ships have to come into port.
2. Planes need to land.
3. Men need staging areas.
4. Wounded need medical treatment.
5. Missle defense needs a platform.
6. Embassies need Quick Reaction Forces.
7. Our allies want joint operations.

These things are neccessary to protect our national interests and to save innocent people from despotism and genocide.

Could we not be in some of these places? Are there places that we should be that we are not? We have well-paid experts, powerful diplomats, and high ranking military officials to make those decisions for us.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Mike:

I do understand the arrangement in Japan as part of the Constitution the occupying forces wrote for the defeated country after WW2.

Of course, not every Japanese person is thrilled to have their country still under military occupation more than 60 years after their defeat any more than we would want foreign troops on our soil - nor is every American thrilled to subsidize the Japanese government by paying for their defense while they can pump money into more lucrative things.

After a while it simply becomes ridiculous. How long should American forces occupy Japan and "protect" them from having their own military? 100 years? 1,000 years? 10,000 years? There is no exit strategy.

You could just imagine the public outcry if a foreign country had a military base within U.S. borders. Can you just imagine? I know I wouldn't like it. I would begin to resent that country - no matter who it was. The British tried to maintain a fort in the Northwest Territories long after the Revolution - and it was important for the U.S. (as a sovereign country) to expel them.

And you're right, we have "well-paid" and extremely powerful government and military officials "making those decisions for us" (how very thoughtful!) - often with no legislative oversight or even knowledge - but that doesn't mean they are always right. One has to ask the age-old question "Cui bono?" ("Who benefits?").

Since 1861, we have had an imperial invade-conquer-occupy foreign policy (quite contrary to the founders) - especially after the 1894 invasion and overthrow of Hawaii. With few exceptions, we have maintained a lingering (and sometimes massive) military presence in every country we have invaded - and if you can put yourself in their place - not everyone is thrilled to see foreign soldiers in their country.

Even the State of Hawaii removed the United States flag from its state capitol to mark the century of the overthrow.

General Eisenhower warned us of the "military industrial complex" that would become a threat to the country (which explains why we have so many "well-paid experts" who are keeping an expanding military presence around the world). And he was right. We're going broke - between financing a far-flung empire abroad and an ever-increasing expensive nanny state at home (the welfare-warfare state) - we're spending more money than we can ever collect in taxes - hence our increasing borrowing from (drumroll...) Communist China! And when the Chinese are done toying with us, we will have hyperinflation (the imperial Romans had some problems with this as well, and their soldiers in particular weren't happy to be paid for their blood, sweat, and tears in scrip).

Well-paid experts indeed!

Empires are expensive - and their surrogates always argue that any expense is necessary for the maintenance of the empire. It was "necessary" for England to maintain military outposts in South Africa, India, and at one time, America.

Most under British military hegemony eventually came to resent it - including our own country.

It was "necessary" for the City of Rome to erect a wall... *on the border between England and Scotland*! It was "necessary" for the Russians to maintain a military presence in Lithuania and Afghanistan, in Vietnam and in East Germany, in Poland and in Albania. Not everyone was happy with the arrangement = though local dictators and puppets were thrilled - and handsomely rewarded. Eventually, Britain and Russia came to understand that they could no longer afford their empires, and they devolved into commonwealths.

There is also the backlash (blowback) that turns countries into enemies - which creates more, not less, danger to our troops - who are incidentally easier to injure and kill when they are in Beirut, Lebanon protecting Israel instead of in Lebanon, PA protecting Americans.

For some reason, the Swiss are not hated around the world nor have thousands of troops in harm's way in every corner of the globe - with not even the money to provide bullet-proof vests and armor for them all - let alone provide for their ongoing healthcare needs that the country is morally obliged, but economically unable, to do.

Being the world's policeman is a luxury we can no longer afford - unless soldiers are willing to be paid in the worthless paper that will be the United States dollar unless we contract our imperium very soon. History repeats itself. We're eventually going to impoverish our military and subject them to attack without adequate protection - all the while, the exit door at WalMart is more secure than our own borders!

We can either contract and devolve now in an orderly way, or we can wait for the economy to collapse and have chaos and perhaps even political instability and unpaid troops being stranded in hostile countries with no way to get home, leaving us vulnerable to real danger in the U.S. itself.

But if we were to contract and have the kind of military might that we now have now, only concentrated in the U.S,. nobody would even *think* of invading us! If we had secure borders, and waters and airspace around our country sealed off from any and all hostile forces the way we could if we recalled our personnel from around the globe and placed them close by, no navy or air force would dare invade us. We already have the world's largest nuclear arsenal. We can now literally vaporize any country that would dare invade us.

The United States would be a veritable fortress. Instead, we're closing bases in America (which employ Americans) and expanding our presence abroad (which costs a fortune) - all according to an obsolete post-WW2 model that is destroying us economically (which incidentally was bin Laden's strategy all along).

And, as a bonus, not occupying 130 countries would turn the volume down on a lot of the resentment and hatred of us. We would not be tempted to stick our noses in elections and meddle in internal affairs of other nations (like we did in Iran when we installed the brutal regime of the Shah - which came back to bite us in 1978, and is still causing havoc today).

Sadly, despotism and genocide are going on all over the world. The United States military is Constitutionally under oath to protect the American people. If Americans want to volunteer in a UN army or multinational security force, they are free to do so (or should be). American soldiers, sailors, and marines exist to protect America and secure America's borders - not to occupy and rule the world. No American soldier takes an oath to the Constitution of Japan, Germany, Israel, or Iraq. If our troops are indeed a worldwide police force, they should all don blue helmets and UN flags and be put under foreign command. And indeed, there are many that want just that. I sure don't.

Also, it is important to note that the United States does not invade other countries because they are despotisms and because they commit genocide. Saudi Arabia is a despotic state where Christians are routinely beheaded. They are in no wise a "democracy" (then again, the U.S. isn't supposed to be either). And yet, they are our "allies." They are a brutal dictatorial regime - and we have bases there. The answer as to why has nothing to do with human rights and fighting despotism. One reason the U.S. is hated in South America is because we have routinely propped up brutal dictatorships that have been seen as "friendly" - thus giving the Communists a PR wedge to drive between America and the local population.

"Highly-paid" idiocy on our part only served to enable Marxism in our own hemisphere.

Our imperial foreign policy has more to do with the military industrial complex and the protection of private oil interests than freeing people from dictators.

But then again, we can always argue that these things are in the "national interests" - just like a banana monopoly for the Dole family was "in the American interest" in overthrowing the peaceful kingdom of Hawaii and the imprisonment of their queen.

Hey, I like cheap bananas as much as the next guy. Besides, Queen Liliuokalani should have been honored to be imprisoned under the stars and stripes. Not to be would simply be, well, un-American. ;-)

But then again, the Dole family's coffers and the American desire for a military presence in the Pacific conspired to bring about a shameful coup of the likes that would have scandalized the founding fathers. And it has all been downhill since then.

Time and money are running out. Like the game of risk, I believe we are terribly over-extended and are setting up our own demise - or at very least, our own impoverishment. I hope we come to our senses soon.

Mike Baker said...

My aim is not to get drawn into a protracted political debate. You clearly have a well-formed opinion based on lots of first-hand experience in matters of national defense, civics, and global affairs.

These issues are so much more sophisticated and complex than you make things seem. They are not black and white. It is a vocational issue... vocations that a select few have the burden to carry.

America was born with a rebellious spirit. It is fashionable to distrust authority rather than submit to it. We love the moonshiner better than the revenuer. It is trendy to be a smarter patriot than all the other smart patriots that are doing their damnedest to defend everyone's children from anhilation and tyranny. It is easy to think that our limited resources and limited time allow us to see far clearer than people who consume themselves with these matters day in and day out... for us. We lose sight of that some times. We forget that there are good people in government who love liberty and want what is best for Americans and do their best to make that happen.

It's more fun to be jaded. It is easy to gripe and Monday Morning Quarterback. It is really easy to paint goverment and the establisment as the bad guy all the time (or at the least incompetent). That makes it easy to be the good guy with all the answers.

If you are getting information second hand, what makes your opinion more reliable than the people who are actually there on your behalf? How do you know for sure what to believe?

What alarms me most about most Americans is who they are willing to trust without doing the independent research needed to formulate a truly informed opinion.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Mike:

I appreciate your sarcasm in the first paragraph, and I have no problem with your opinion that I lack the "first-hand experience in matters of national defense, civics, and global affairs" to have a "well formed opinion."

And you're absolutely right.

I've never been a president (or president-elect) of the United States, for example, but I still believe, as foolish as it may seem, that I have the right to an opinion, to criticize, to disagree with him and with Congress, and to demand their obedience to the Constitution.

I do think that if we are going to allow citizens to do things like vote, own and carry guns, serve on juries, and hold public office - if we're going to have a republic - we have to put up with really "uninformed" people like me having opinions.

If I'm wrong about something, I'm willing to be educated. I used to hold a very different political opinion than I do now, but I studied, read, checked my premises, rethought some things, and took part in the process - and as a result, I believe differently today.

But one thing hasn't changed: the Constitution - and it is literally black and white. Our founders wanted it that way. They seceded from a large imperial government that had no written constitution, a government of highly-paid experts who knew what was best. The founders and the American people were told that their opinions weren't well-informed, that government was too "sophisticated" and "complex" for the rebellious back-woods fops who favored the moonshiner over the revenuer.

As far as vocation goes, folks in government have the vocation to obey the Constitution, not seek clever loopholes and work-arounds in the name of security or the assertion of a living document to achieve non-republican ends.

The federal government has assumed all sorts of authority unto itself where it has no such authority. The Supreme Court has no jurisdiction, for example, over state abortion laws. Some things are indeed black and white. The tenth amendment is black and white. As are: the prohibition of currency other than gold and silver is black and white, the authority of Congress alone to declare war, the lack of authority of the judicial branch to legislate, the prohibition of torture, the conditions under which habeas corpus may be suspended and by whom, the right of free speech even near abortion clinics, etc.

These "black and white" things are for the protection of our liberty. Our founders didn't trust the government to respect the rights of the citizens based on some kind of unwritten "gentlemen's agreement" or the assurance that the "highly paid experts" are really "good people."

All I am asking is that the government stay in its constitutional box.

If I have some "second hand" information that is wrong, please correct me. Do we not have 50,000 troops in Germany? 30,000 in Korea? Did the U.S. not overthrow the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1894? Did we not overthrow the Persian government and install the corrupt Shah? And did that not result in "blowback" that led to the 1978 Iranian revolution? Are there foreign military bases on American soil, and would the American people accept such a thing? Does the Constitution authorize paper money and standing armies? Do they not behead Christians in Saudi Arabia? Are there any churches there? Are they not one of our allies? Are they a "democratic" country? Did Rome not build Hadrian's Wall?

Which of my facts are wrong? Like I said, I'm willing to be corrected. I'm not saying anything I haven't been saying for some 15 years now. I have changed my mind on some things, and I'm willing to change it again - but unless you have a really good argument, I'm more convinced than ever that we need the federal government to be reined in and not just give it a blank check and a Nelson's Eye.

It was George Washington who said: "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." This is why we need to strictly follow the Constitution and not see it as a "living document." We need to have a healthy distrust of government. One nice thing about a Democratic administration is that conservatives will once again start seeing why we have a Constitution and why we need to insist that the federal government obey it. That will be a welcome change.

I'm sorry, but I'm just not satisfied with the explanation that government can run roughshod over the Constitution while giving the citizenry a pat on the head and the assurance that we have highly-paid experts who know when the Constitution is to be exceeded or ignored. As a citizen, I too have a vocation to be, in the words of Jefferson, "vigilant." It's not about being jaded, but about being watchful.

And I'm really not saying anything much different than the GOP candidate for president who, by far, collected the most money in political donations from active duty military personnel than any other candidate of any party. It seems that a lot of our military personnel agree with everything I said here that we need to rethink our foreign policy and how our military is deployed.

But then again, it will soon be a moot point: we cannot continue to fund 700+ military bases in 130 countries any more than we can afford socialized health care and college educations for every person. The United States is already extended financially beyond the limit. We're broke, and in debt. And what happens when Communist China stops paying our bills for us? We're headed for a financial meltdown. We can't afford the empire any longer. I'm not Monday Morning Quarterbacking here - I'm going out on a limb and suggesting a game plan for what is likely to happen in the future.

I really believe we need to think on these things now and not leave them to "experts" while we all watch American Idol and play video games. The "experts" too often forget whom they work for. "Experts" presided over the collapse of every empire and former state in history while the populace was usually utterly stunned that it could ever happen "here."

We're either going to live within our financial means and within our Constitution and have a free and prosperous America to leave to our children, or we will perish by our own sword of our own hubris - with, as is typical, the military suffering the most and left holding the bag when it all comes unglued.