The US Military: An Uncontrollable Juggernaut?


I begin with a report of some statements made by John McCain, Republican presidential candidate for 2008, and the naval son and grandson of American admirals:

The Huffington Post reports:

"The presidential candidate who sang “Bomb bomb Iran” is already looking towards the war after the war in Iraq. Sen. John McCain told a crowd of supporters…, “It’s a tough war we’re in. It’s not going to be over right away. There’s going to be other wars.” [H]e repeated…: “I’m sorry to tell you, there’s going to be other wars. We will never surrender but there will be other wars.””

"McCain did not elaborate who the United States would be fighting. But he did warn the crowd to be ready for the ramifications of current and future battles. “And right now – we’re gonna have a lot of PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder] to treat, my friends,” he said. “We’re gonna have a lot of combat wounds that have to do with these terrible explosive IEDs that inflict such severe wounds. And my friends, it’s gonna be tough, we’re gonna have a lot to do.” u201D

The above prompts the following reflections. Although I've made some of these points before, I now consider directly, the mindless militarism expressed so clearly and so well by Sen. McCain:

As I've pointed out previously, the US is (a) the world's most prosperous country (b) its third largest in terms of population (c) surrounded by 3–4000 miles of empty, stormy ocean on two sides; by Canada to the north and impoverished Latin American countries to the south. No government therefore has been insane enough to suppose it could successfully invade and occupy the US.

For the US military, therefore, the perennial problem is: how to secure continued tax revenues, domestically? Given the military realities above, their only avenue: some sort of overseas "threat." Now, the same three facts that render the US invulnerable to any foreign attack, also mean that the world overseas is dim, distant, vague, and mostly completely unknown to its population. This profound ignorance in turn means that, when their officials and politicians speak with the utmost assurance about a foreign "threat," Americans generally have no way of assessing such confident assertions.

Pearl Harbor was not, and could never have been, a precursor to invasion and occupation of even Hawaii, never mind the mainland US. At most, it was occasion for a major reprisal. But this would not have been grounds for a major military expansion. Only entering WWII could supply that excuse. So by 1945 the US government included a very extensive military establishment, with troops deployed in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Korea. The military (be it noted) are a branch of government – so naturally they wished to continue receiving tax revenues, and even expand their empire. This is what all government officials want.

So after 1945: "occupation" of the territory of a defeated enemy supplied the excuse for retaining American troops and bases in Germany and Japan. The Korean War gave a "reason" for troops and bases in the south of the peninsula. It was around this time, in the mid-1950s, that former Gen. Eisenhower warned of the dangers of the "military-industrial complex" which had already emerged.

The American military and politicians then quickly seized on continuing political rivalry with the Soviet Union and with China, as a rationalisation for continuing to maintain military forces in various parts of Western Europe, Japan, South Korea, etc. Over the following decades, this excuse eventually resulted in some 700 US military bases around what to the overwhelming bulk of Americans is the dim, distant, fuzzy, unknown world, somewhere beyond the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The Soviet bugaboo collapsed in 1991, so further foreign occasions had to be, and were discovered, to keep domestic American tax revenues flowing into American military hands.

Over these decades, what was the point of all these military "alliances"? During the Soviet era, no doubt the Soviet Union may have had enough missiles to damage parts of many American cities – but to what end? The Soviets were not so stupid as to try and invade Western Europe, right on their very doorstep: they had enough to do, to hold on to the territories they invaded and occupied during WWII. What gain then, from attacking unconquerable American territory, several thousands of miles away? And did the Western European governments propose to help stop such totally pointless missile attacks on the US?

Similarly with South Korea. No doubt the North Korean government was once a menace – of sorts – to the government of South Korea. But its danger diminished rapidly as the South Korean economy took off. A country (like North Korea) which suffers from famine – in the late 20th century! – cannot offer any threat whatsoever to a country which is the world's twelfth largest economy and the world's largest producer of electronic parts – and which therefore feeds as well as South Korea does (it is the largest single importer of Australian beef).

[This night-time satellite photo says it all: that totally black hole in the centre, surrounded by the blazing lights of Japan, South Korea, and even mainland China – is North Korea.]

So what was and is this military "alliance" between the US and the South Korean government about? The danger of a North Korean or a Chinese invasion of the US? Against which the South Korean government has promised military assistance?

The same goes for the American counter-invasion of Kuwait in January 1991, after Saddam Hussain's invasion in August 1990. No doubt Hussain wished to add to his oil revenues, but this was hardly any sort of menace to American oil imports. To whom could he have sold the oil? NB, which was only a fraction of total oil production anyway. Had he refused to sell to American oil companies (thus cutting off his nose to spite his face) – some intermediary would've stepped in, and American companies would've still obtained any supplies they wanted from the Kuwait oil-fields.

Finally, the 11th September 2001. Patently, this was not, and could never have been, a preliminary to an invasion and occupation of the US – by whom? Rather, "entangling foreign alliances" brought on this disaster.

The identities of the men who took over the planes make it clear that the whole was part of an intra-Saudi Arabian/Islamic political quarrel. The instigator was a man who aspired to obtain the oil revenues of Saudi Arabia for himself. He denounced the current rulers of Saudi Arabia precisely for their alliance with the infidel Americans, and for allowing infidel troops on Arabia's sacred soil. The men themselves came from tribes in the Yemen whose rulers had been displaced by the rulers of Saudi Arabia. Or else they belonged to ultra-Islamic political movements in Egypt, whose leaders sought to replace the rulers of Egypt, and then impose a stricter, more "Islamic" regime on their fellow-Egyptian Muslims. Because the US government was allied with the Saudi Arabian government, therefore the enemies of that last government attacked a major American landmark. "If I wound my enemy's friend, I wound my enemy."

And so on….To summarise: The US is the third most populous country in the world, and its richest. It is protected even further by 3–4,000 miles of open ocean, east and west. Thus it is totally impregnable to invasion and occupation. Therefore the only way the American military can obtain large and growing tax revenues is through: maintaining some 700 military bases round the world; fighting foreign wars; invading and occupying small, poor countries. They have done this for some 60 years now. American taxpayers have handed over trillions of dollars in taxes so "their" military can embark upon all sorts of military adventures overseas.

And why must this military maintain and enlarge those 700 bases, and build more? Fight, invade, occupy small, poor territories? – How else to obtain trillions of dollars in tax revenues? Thus the whole process feeds on itself – it can continue indefinitely – there is no built-in check of any sort…. And so McCain can confidently promise more wars, more suffering for an indefinite time to come…

February 18, 2008