DEE-FENCE and Empire

22 May

 

When I was a student back in High School during the late 60s and early 70s I remember always having a History class but never really studying current events. Class was always focused on the past and usually the distant past and then we would try to relate how past history was relevant to our present day lives but we never seemed to ever talk about present history in the making and how that was relevant to…well… our lives right there in the present where we were living them.

And the reasoning for this always seemed to be that to discuss the present in the present would be too controversial for those living in the present which, as I think about it now, was pretty idiotic especially when you consider that at that time in the 60s and the 70s the present meant the War in Vietnam. And if you were a young man living at that time and in high school then your senior year would usually mean that you would be turning 18 and then would become eligible for the selective service draft lottery.

And at that time in American history that was the most important event that would ever happen to us and would shape our lives or deaths for the rest of our “histories”.

And yet, we never discussed it. We watched it on TV every night but we really never discussed it in school. Talk about surreal! Talk about a show named Survivor! For all intents and purposes the greatest event of our young lives was a television show that was a reality for those who were in Vietnam and living that nightmare but just a show on television for those who were lucky enough to survive the lottery and not have to go there.

The reason I bring this up now is because I have just recently become aware of the fact that just during my lifetime the United States military has been involved in 72 separate military interventions throughout the globe and on every continent (with the exception of Antarctica) and yet how many of these interventions were required discussions in our classrooms let alone required studies at the time they were happening?

And yet as of 2011, the U.S. spends about $550 billion annually to fund its military forces, and appropriates approximately $160 billion to fund Overseas Contingency Operations, And that does not even count our secret expenditures within the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Put together, the U.S. with only 6% of the world’s population, constitutes roughly 43 percent of the world’s military expenditures.

We have almost 1.5 million active service personnel plus another 800,000  in reserve and that’s not counting the 137,000 men and women serving and being paid  in private military/security companies.

And all of these soldiers are stationed in 150 countries around the world…out of 196… If we were playing a game of Risk, we would have tokens on over 76% of the game board.

And now that our armies are manned (and womanned) strictly by volunteers or mercenaries, most of us at home have little or no personal interest in what our military does…and we don’t even talk about when it does do something And even If you want to hear about it on the news you only have a small window between 6:30 and 7pm where our networks  might be able to provide you with a sound bite or two.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in case you haven’t noticed we have achieved empire status and perhaps this could be one reason why our schools and our students in them are falling behind the rest of the world educationally. Why study? Why bother? The game is all but won? We dominate the board and the livin’ is easy.

Our entire nation is like the rich kid with the wealthy parents who can get him into any school he wants and make sure that he graduates whether he studies, learns, shows up to class…or doesn’t. We dominate the globe and use 1/2 of its stuff while we’re only 1/16 of its population. We don’t even send our best and our brightest off to fight, dominate and protect the realm. We send our poorest… and as one reader of my blog pointed out to me… Why should we worry about how poor our poor people are when they are the richest poor people in the world?

And In fact due to our ennui here at home and a declining supply of qualified recruits, the armed forces has now considered seeking math and science qualified recruits from foreign countries, through an accelerated citizenship for foreign nationals because only one in four Americans of the proper age currently meet our own moral, academic and physical standards for military service.

So…We are going to outsource our own military with people from countries who we are supposedly defending ourselves from?… which sounds to me like a key ingredient in the recipe for the demise of every other empire ever to have inhabited our planet.

Meanwhile, back at home, along with the 23% of our budget that we are spending on Military/Defense and Veteran spending we are spending 20% of our budget on the Social Security Trust Fundbecause we borrowed the 2.6 trillion dollars that is supposed to be in that fund to fund our budget shortfalls over the last 30 years…perhaps because we were spending so much money on our nation’s defense?

In any case how much more offensive defense can our empire afford? It seems to me that we are going to have to eventually put some points on the board  in the form of more money earned by the  home team if we want to get back in the game legitimately and pay our bills… or perhaps we will just have to figure out better and more ingenious ways to continue to beg, borrow and steal it…

 

20 Responses to “DEE-FENCE and Empire”

  1. Barbara Backer-Gray May 22, 2013 at 2:30 am #

    Good post. But how do you figure that America’s poor are the least poor of the poor in the world?

  2. RAB May 22, 2013 at 2:33 am #

    That about says it. Well done. I wish you were wrong.

  3. sheilamariegrimes May 22, 2013 at 2:36 am #

    I hate it when you make sense! Good post!

  4. ontyrepassages May 22, 2013 at 3:23 am #

    The “military industrial complex.” You don’t hear that term much anymore. Military spending is big business and using the poor as laborers in it is sheer genius. Of course, it’ll be our downfall eventually…it’s already begun. Great empires crumble from within. For example, Big Oil powers and empowers the military, both with oil to operate and the missions it needs to justify its existence. Meanwhile, other countries innovate and leave us in the dust when it comes to alternative energy. What if some of those billions had gone into education, research, and implementation? Whole new industries with jobs for workers would have sprung to life while Big Oil and MIC shrunk.

    • charlypriest May 22, 2013 at 7:39 am #

      You forgot that you get to your job also thanks to the Big Oil pumping gas into it. Nice prices though. But at least you get there.

      • ontyrepassages May 22, 2013 at 10:16 am #

        I certainly do, and countless soldiers died in the Middle East to make certain that remains the case. Oil had its day, but its day should have already passed. Our wakeup call shouldn’t be shrinking icecaps in 2013, it should have been the oil embargo in 1973. In the meantime Japan has high-speed trains and Europe has the super collider. For 40 years we’ve hid behind our circled oil barrels while the other industrial nations have sought to move on. The spirit that made this the greatest nation on earth is sputtering. We’re all to blame if we tolerate it.

      • charlypriest May 22, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

        Don´t tell me about soldiers dying, I´ve been there not with the U.S army though with the spanish army, by the way you know the first Golf war why all 100+ nations sign in on that war why? Oil. Look at the French now in Mali, their in a war because they get resources from there, I think it´s diamonds. Now your telling me about global warming? The earth has gone through stages like this through it´s whatever years God put it on rotation. No absolute proof it´s because of global warming, In my country we have super speed trains that no one can pay for so their supper vacant I would say. Oil, big black dirty oil is what keeps us running. I´ll give you this we eliminate oil all together in the U.S and you obviously have to get an alternative energy. O.K, know lets say…electric car. What have you accomplished? nothing, war´s between other countries because of oil will still be going on if they can´t get to the level of the U.S electric uses of cars for all 300+million americans, go figure that one out, and the spirit that made the U.S of a the best nation on earth is adversity and threat, and fighting through that adversity, I mean it litterally as in wars, wars will never go away it´s a fact. Just take a peek at a history book, things that have longevity at the end although tough it means something is working, interwine with a global picture. ADVERSITY by people who wanted to run as far away form Europe and have a job and a better life for their children, or compete with others that way a great new invention is achieved that creates more work posts and THREAT, one example, The soviets put the first human in orbit, which meant a threat to the US was behind, in comes Johnny boy gives a speech about putting some dudes on the moon and returning them back home safe, and in enters NASA then the flight controllers and engineers who made it possible, why because of a threat of soviet supremacy of space and thanks to those people who worked 24/7 for ten years (while the other gypsies where “changing the world”) to get there there has been a throwback to the use of all types of tools and ways we move and travel and think for ordinary Joe. Threat-you see a man is going to take your position at work, then you work harder.So I want to live in the land of “everything is perfect”, but can´t because humans are imperfect therefore you elect imperfect presidents and at the end of the day, out off all the un-perfect democracies in the wold I´d rather prefer the un-perfect U.S Democracy.
        Damn, I have to run for office or be the president speech writer or adviser.

  5. Mohamed Ossama May 22, 2013 at 4:23 am #

    Reblogged this on Dawn of Thoughts and commented:
    Very intriguing post..

  6. Morgan Mussell May 22, 2013 at 4:33 am #

    The American Empire is already in decline, as we all know in our guts. One of the best books I’ve read on the subject is “The LImits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism,” by Andrew Bacevich, 2008. Bacevich, a career military officer and Vietnam Vet, now teaches at Boston University, and presents a clear analysis of how the choices we’ve made over decades have led us to our current situation.

  7. makagutu May 22, 2013 at 6:23 am #

    You sir, make a lot of sense.
    I don’t think most Americans can be convinced that the empire will fall if it continues in the same way. Maybe the thought of Americas exceptionalism has prevented most of you from reading history books on decline of other great empires.

  8. charlypriest May 22, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    I love when they use the term Empire, it´s so freeky ain´t it? Comparing a volunteer army to mercenaries? nice. Bad term the word mercenaries, but I could point out that mercenaries have been used in the right way. Reminds me when some spanish people found out I was in the Spanish Legion, volunteer, I was a dimwit fascist according to them. We don´t sent our best and brightest, seeking math and science qualified recruits? Where does those statistics come from? Hell, they teach you math and science in the army, even all two rolled into one. When you shoot a bullet, and if specially if your a sniper, you have to take in consideration, wind direction, earth rotation, gravity, length of the shot to target, being able to see that target while he doesn´t see you meaning you have to navigate yourself through planet earth and branches( I do believe we like cactus better, much easier to hide in)and I can keep on going but is too boring. You do have to make math equations while being aware of the science of the environment. Jesus, the soldiers are physics. Plus you have to add up all these things in your mind(you do have a buddy observer who will write it down) under pressure and don´t have the luxury of failing the exam and then retake another. Only people who haven´t been in the army or deployed or just plain hate it, can say these beautiful things. But is quite interesting the comments. From an ex-retard…Stay Frosty gents.
    P.S. Forgot, I´m pretty sure that there have been more than 72 interventions, but will never know how many secret ops. Chilling. They might be at my doorstep for all I know.

    • gpicone May 22, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

      In a report titled “Too Fat to Fight,” a group of 130 retired military leaders says the top medical reason is young people are simply too heavy – and can’t handle the physical requirements of being in the military. According to the Pentagon, the ineligible population breaks down this way:

      *Medical/physical problems, 35 percent.

      *Illegal drug use, 18 percent.

      *Mental Category V (the lowest 10 percent of the population), 9 percent.

      *Too many dependents under age 18, 6 percent.

      *Criminal record, 5 percent.

      We also employ companies like Blackwater who provide 137,000 military personnel currently serving along side our armed forces. Men and women who leave the US military and then take private well paid jobs to return to military service would by definition be mercenaries.

      • charlypriest May 22, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

        Doesn´t come as a surprise, actually it´s pretty good compared to other armies or the same who knows, we somoked joints most weekends, even have guys go on live fire exercises smoked out of their brains, they did perform though. Soldiers are people, it´s a society within a society and people are not perfect. You forgot sexual harassment too. I seen it happen. Medical and physical problems? By defenition the job you´ve chosen will make you have broken finger, dislocated shoulder, joints going wild, e.t.c 18% drug use?out of an army of 2.2 million that´s about a18,000…not bad just about a division.Under age 6%? who cares one year more or one more year later to hold a rifle or drive a tank or shoot artillery. It´s just a year you don´t, I do wonder how in the hell I got a driver´s license by my 16 birthday when I was over there, THAT´s a problem. Criminal record? No biggie, I knew friends and I too have a criminal record for nothing really bad though, and those guys where the best soldiers of the unit, and best performed under pressure when deployed. Not all I said some. Stay frosty.

  9. kqduane May 22, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    I would rather we keep our pieces on the global game board rather then take our ball and go home. Doing that only encourages the bad guys to follow you to your house and beat on your front door, instead of continuing to play the game in their yard.

  10. avwalters May 22, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    And that is exactly why American schools teach history as though it is some dusty relic on the back shelf. That way only the smart ones figure out that the game is rigged (and they keep their mouths shut about it and look after number 1). Despite what it says about us as a militaristic power, I favor universal service–military or public. It forces young people to have a stake in the game and doesn’t leave the scut work and danger for the poor alone. Folks might think a lot harder about stupid overseas “engagements” if their lives, or the lives of their sons and daughters are on the line. As a nation we need to learn to distinguish between whether OUR interests are on the line or whether corporate interests are on the line. If we go to war over oil, or other corporate interests, we’re subsidizing with lives.

  11. I read with you yesterday, and dang it, you still make sense today!

  12. Diana Hernandez May 23, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

    This is genius. Our country is burning a lot of bridges and causing too much trouble for it’s own good. My social studies teacher told me my sophomore year of high school that history lessons are all but redundant. We never actually learn from our mistakes and simply keep repeating the same faults decade after decade. It’s time we work from the inside out and stop pretending like our country isn’t housing a net of pretty large messes.

  13. Jae May 27, 2013 at 3:57 am #

    This is easily a topic where we come together. I’m really tired of America playing world police. Time to bring it on home and let the world sort out its own problems. Just being a country that exhibits its freedom culture on TV and in its music did a lot more to topple communism than running around trying to force freedom on people. Check out this article on the TV show Dallas’s affect on Romania: http://reason.com/blog/2012/07/21/how-tvs-dallas-won-the-cold-war

    I did find it interesting to learn the other day, however that the US gets most of its oil from itself (NPR article showing 38.8% US and 8.1% Saudi Arabia: http://www.npr.org/2012/04/11/150444802/where-does-america-get-oil-you-may-be-surprised) and not as much from the Middle East as I originally believed, which causes me to wonder if they weren’t in it for the oil, and we’ve “toppled” terrorism then what are we still doing over there? What is it our warmongering government is really up to? I’m a little more than perturbed that Obama ran on the platform of ending the wars, but kept them going and started a couple of his own in Libya and Yemen. Warmongering in both parties is what pushed me toward libertarianism.

    Anyway, if you’re saying it’s high time we stopped getting in other people’s business and bring our troops home to defend our own country, I’m with you.

    • gpicone May 27, 2013 at 4:15 am #

      From what I’ve read we’re in wars these days as part of a jobs program…making war machinery and using it to blow other things up is just about all we manufacture these days…Sadly if we end war we’re all likely to be unemployed!

      • Jae May 27, 2013 at 4:21 am #

        Ugh, that’s so depressing. Do you ever wonder if we just need things to collapse? It won’t be pretty, I’m not denying that, but somehow reboot and start over? Clean out all of congress, every person from every party and start afresh? We used to be such an innovative country. Now we’re just good for policing the world. It sounds like you’re right, that we make war to stay afloat. *sigh* I just wish politicians would be honest about our situation, or that the media would report what was really going on. Truth, even if it’s hard, would be so refreshing.

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