U.S. Protectorates in Asia Cost a Great Deal

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Are you careful in spending your money? Whatever degree of care you have, your taxed dollars surely receive nothing remotely like it.

Chicken feed. That’s the $40 million that the U.S. Navy will spend to lay a cable from Florida to Guantanamo. That $40 million would make a lot of people very happy. Every man, woman, and child in a town of 4,000 could get $10,000.

Consider a U.S. military spending figure that is 1,000 times greater than this $40 million. That’s the $40 billion estimate of the costs of keeping troops in Japan. And really to boggle the mind, consider the annual U.S. defense spending that is 22,500 times that $40 million.

The Korean War has never been concluded. The U.S. still maintains the Seventh Fleet in Japan for the official purpose of protecting South Korea from North Korea. That’s 50–60 ships and 60,000 personnel. The U.S. military in Japan also has a purpose of protecting Japan. Japan and the U.S. have a security alliance created in 1960. The U.S. has protectorates all over the world.

One report says it costs $40 billion a year to keep troops in Japan. Every man, woman, and child in an American city of 4,000,000 could receive $10,000 a year for that amount (Los Angeles has 3.8 million people).

The same report quotes a Harvard professor of international relations:

“What the troops provide you is a security guarantee which is credible. Japan is faced with both China and North Korea as nuclear powers and of course Russia. Japan needs an American guarantee if it doesn’t wish to develop its own nuclear weapons. How do you make that guarantee credible? You make that credible by having American troops in Japan. Anyone who attacks Japan—North Korea for example—is going to kill Americans as well as Japanese.”

Why is America protecting Japan? Why do Americans pay for protecting Japan? Why can’t Japan handle its own affairs?

Now that the Cold War has ended, why cannot the U.S. seek to terminate any Russian nuclear threat to Japan?

The U.S. has amicable trade relations with China. American companies invest huge amounts in China. Why is it beyond the capacity of the U.S. government to seek to terminate a Chinese nuclear threat on Japan?

Why can’t South Korea defend itself against North Korea? Won’t South Korea hold off ever reaching a peace agreement with North Korea as long as the U.S. maintains its protection of South Korea?

Does the U.S. actually intend to drop nuclear weapons on Russia, China, or North Korea under some contingencies? How credible is such a threat in reality? Do Americans really want to be dragged into wars not of their choosing by the actions of Russia, or China, or North Korea?

Do Americans really want to assume very costly protection of Asian lands and possibly be dragged into wars that have no direct bearing on the defense of America and Americans? What sense does this make?

The $900 billion U.S. defense budget each year is $3,000 for every man, woman, and child in America. For a family of 4, it’s $12,000 a year.

What does this tax, this forced exaction, buy? The military/industrial complex benefits. Various commercial interests that can operate overseas with lower risks benefit. The U.S. subsidizes foreign nations and indirectly their industries and labor forces who compete with U.S. businesses but also provide markets for exports. Some importers gain, others lose.

The overall effects are complex, but there is one statistic that is telling. The median U.S. family income is growing only at a very slow pace of less than 1/2 of 1 percent per year since 1967, and that figure uses the conventional price indexes that understate inflation. The median is a measure of the center of a distribution from poor to very rich. It is a kind of average that doesn’t give excessive weight to extremes. It is telling us that the average U.S. household has basically seen little or no growth in real income since 1967.

Would average Americans have been even worse off had they not had  vast sums of wealth extracted from them and spent for a military establishment (empire) all over the world? That’s extremely implausible. What’s far more likely is that these sums would have been invested in capital projects that provided real returns of several percent at least. At 3 percent, money doubles in 24 years. In the 50 years and longer that the American empire has been operating, America could have gotten far wealthier than it now is. The country is now a debt-ridden mess with over 40 million people on food stamps.

America’s overseas protectorates drain wealth directly from the average American and prevent them from accumulating wealth.

6:03 am on July 6, 2012