What are some realistic ways in which the bloated United States military establishment could be reduced? Professor Andrew Bacevich, a distinguished military and political analyst, suggests six realistic approaches towards shrinking the expensive U.S. military institution.
1. The "War on Terror" is fifteen years old and an obvious failure. The U.S. could declare an end to its ill-conceived "War on Terror" and liquidate the extremely costly infrastructure used to conduct it. Terrorist acts committed in the U.S. should be treated as domestic crimes rather than inducements to war.
2. The U.S. has far more nuclear weapons and delivery systems than it needs. Yet our political leaders seem committed to spending $1 trillion over the next 30 years to "modernize" the bulging nuclear arsenal. Nuclear weapons endanger humanity. The U.S. nuclear stockpile must be contracted and eliminated, not modernized.
3. The U.S. has committed itself to protecting Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and other Persian Gulf nations. None of these societies are attractive democracies. The original motivations for this military commitment were "energy security" and fear of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union no longer exists. Moreover, renewable energy, plus western hemisphere resources, provide ample "energy security" for the U.S. The military commitment to the Persian Gulf region can be safely terminated.
4. Both the Bush and Obama administrations have made extensive use of drone assassinations. These actions are illegal, immoral, politically counterproductive and expensive. They should be ended immediately.
5. World War II ended 70 years ago. The Cold War ended 25 years ago. Nevertheless, the U.S. still shoulders the burden of defending Europe against possible aggressors (of uncertain identity). Europe is sufficiently large, wealthy and well-organized to defend itself. The U.S. currently has a military presence in 147 different countries. This is global imperialism, not reasonable national defense. Military hubris could well bankrupt our country.
6. The U.S. national debt has tripled since 2000 and will soon exceed the entire gross domestic product. Admiral Mike Mullen, former chair of the Department of Defense's Joint Chiefs of Staff, considers our huge national debt as the most serious threat to U.S. national security. But virtually all members of Congress — including Bernie Sanders — are eager to secure lucrative defense contracts for their own districts. We truly need a political revolution.
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