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Pax Americana increasingly closer to outcome of Pax España

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Part 1

Readers will gather from part 1 that I am uncomfortable with what I see as an unsustainable force projection based upon our economic capacity to support same as well as directions and the magnitude of some of those expenditures. While Lurie's Military Obsession is emotional in spots this 1999 note points out that at that time:

The U.S. by itself spends $281 billion on its military, more than the total spent by 25 of its closest allies and friends. Countries of most concern to the U.S. -- Russia, China, India and Pakistan [and] the seven "rogue states" -- together spend less than half the U.S. total on their military forces. Yet over the next six years, President Clinton wants to increase America's military spending by more than $110 billion -- and Congress thinks even this insufficient!

The part of this note that has kept it dear to me is Lurie's comment on the directions of achieving and maintaining overwhelming superiority:

While the Pentagon spends millions of dollars on "force protection" for the military, the commission chaired by retired Admiral William Crowe found the provisions made for the security of U.S. embassies and diplomats almost universally inadequate. The commission cited a "collective failure of the U.S. government over the past decade" to provide adequate protection for U.S. personnel abroad. Among the other reasons for this failure is the cost of constructing redesigned facilities.

Although the Crowe commission was too polite to say so, diverting a few billion from the defense budget to the basic security of our non-military overseas representatives might have dissuaded those who attacked our Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam embassies. Instead, America responded to the havoc wreaked on these two African embassies by pounding Afghanistan and Sudan with missiles that cost more than what should have been devoted to protecting these embassies.

In the post 11 September GWOT, this retains its luster nicely. Readers of this weblog know that I take issue with aspects of the current effort in Iraq which have:

  • Diverted significant sums even as we have seen our ability to fight a multifront war diminish sharply
  • Badly eroded our ability to raise a willing coalition beyond name only to deal with, say, an escalating problem on the Korean peninsula or an implosion in Pakistan
  • Seen 52% of the American public say that the Iraq war "has not contributed to the long-term security" of the US and worse:
    • Nearly three-quarters of Americans say the number of casualties in Iraq is unacceptable, while two-thirds say the U.S. military there is bogged down and nearly six in 10 say the war was not worth fighting -- in all three cases matching or exceeding the highest levels of pessimism yet recorded. More than four in 10 believe the U.S. presence in Iraq is becoming analogous to the experience in Vietnam.
  • Failed accordingly to achieve our enlistment quotas four months running and even parents are weighing in to disuade their children from enlisting

It is painful enough to witness the nation not to see value in the manner in which its military capabilities are used, but it extremely worrisome that Iraq contributes significantly to our continuing to live beyond our economic means of delivering the global force projection that we desire.

Part 3

Military Obsession
Oscar Lurie, Associate Research Analyst
Center for Defense Information
Weekly Defense Monitor, Volume 3, Issue #05, February 4, 1999
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Gordon Housworth



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