Matthew Evan McElwain
It is a well-known fact that America is the most militarily powerful nation on the planet Earth, and though some may argue it, our ability to intervene globally is the ultimate proof of this, as well as our ceaseless victories throughout wars in history, including the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the War in Iraq, the War in Afghanistan, and the current ongoing War on Terror. However, it brings into question the morality and sensibility of maintaining such a massive offensive force, which is what shall be analyzed in this paper.
First and foremost, it is imperative that the definition of moratorium is defined. A moratorium is said to mean “a suspension of activity” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). With this in mind, it calls into perspective the entirety of this paper’s concept. A complete cease upon militant interventionism and expenditure within the United States of America. As it currently stands, the budget of the United States Armed Forces stands at “$585.2 billion for the fiscal year of 2016 “(United States Department of Defense Budget Request Fiscal Year 2016), which is the most recent recording of it. This points towards the fact that the United States of America spends more money upon its armed forces than the 6 nations beneath us combined, with 5 of them acting as our allies and the other a nation with which we commence trade, who combined spend only $572.6 billion. (John U. Nef, War and Human Progress).
According to the United States Department of Defense, “America spends $100,000 on each newly trained soldier per year, including their equipment, feeding them, and deploying them to their stations within the continental United States and overseas military bases owned and operated by the United States of America” (John U. Nef, War and Human Progress). Since entering just Iraq, America now spends $4.3 billion per month in Iraq, and each soldier deployed overseas costs anywhere between $850,000 to $1.4 million per year (Larry Shaughnessy, One Soldier, One Year), and this doesn’t include the maintenance of artillery, vehicles, and armaments within the country and across the world.
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The maintenance of all cruise missiles is $830,000, for Abrams tanks, the military standard, $6,210,000, and F-22 Raptor, the most common stealth plane in the United States Armed Forces, $150,000, each B-2 Stealth Bomber, $1.01 billion, Virginia Class Submarines, $2.3 billion, and for each individual of the 10 aircraft carriers owned by America, $13.5 billion (J. William Harbard, MilitaryEducation.org). This is a direct confirmation of the military-industrial complex that Former President of the United States of America, Dwight D. Eisenhower, forewarned about in his speech to the American people in 1961, suggesting that America, while free, when faced with the Cold War, would proceed to develop into a nation whose entire economy is meant to support the military, rather than the military develop to protect the citizens of the United States (Dwight D. Eisenhower, Public Papers of the Presidents).
With this all in mind, it becomes extremely apparent that slashing of the military budget is an inevitably solid concept, rooted in the beliefs of former presidents and the modern citizens of the United States of America that America must make strides towards generalized demilitarization.
America has a long-standing history of Imperialism, although, not of the colonial form, militant imperialism. America is, for all intents and purposes, in the business of building itself up to step upon any and all who oppose it, with members of the United States Armed Forces being some of the most patriotic in the world, a particular famous quote being, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country”. (Captain Nathan Hale)
“The United States became an empire in 1945. It is true that in the Spanish-American War, the United States intentionallytook control of the Philippines andCuba. It is also true that it began thinking of itself as an empire, but it really was not. Cuba and the Philippines were the fantasy of empire, and this illusion dissolved during World War I, the subsequent period of isolationism and the Great Depression.
The genuine American empire that emerged thereafter was a byproduct of other events. There was no great conspiracy. In some ways, the circumstances of its creation made it more powerful. The dynamic of World War II led to the collapse of the European Peninsula and its occupation by the Soviets and the Americans. The same dynamic led to theoccupation of Japan and its direct governance by the United States as a de facto colony, with Gen. Douglas MacArthur as viceroy” (George Freidman, Coming to Terms With the American Empire).
With the occupation of Japan following wartime efforts, America truly crossed the boundary, having annihilated the chance of the continuation of the Empire of Japan via the force of nuclear fire and subsequent eradication of their hierarchal culture, America finally moved on to the status of an empire, founded on unbridled economic strength and military power following World War II, the America of the 19th Century was lost during these two World Wars. Our culture was, for the most part, shifted towards the right, with conservativism and strength of nation the most important value to the United States of America as we as a nation entered the Cold War against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the Soviet Union).
“Franklin Roosevelt’s vision of a neocolonial world system with US hegemony and cooperation among the global powers, including the Soviet Union, was cast aside by the ideological construction of the Cold War, which defined communism as evil and expansionist, requiring the defense of democracy through a permanent military preparedness.
A liberal-conservative consensus emerged. There was wide agreement on the militarist application of Keynesian economic principles, facilitating the growth of the economy and the capacity for military intervention anywhere in the world. “Conservatives as well as liberals ended up supporting this approach, which reduced the differences between the two to the dimension and the quality of the intervention of the state in the economy, with neither side rejecting its tax collector-investor function in the production of arms” (Arboleya 2008:133). And there was consensus based on Cold War ideological premises. ‘In foreign policy, the distance between liberals and conservatives was reduced to the point of converting Roosevelt into the last traditional liberal that occupied the White House. As liberalism moved toward militant anti-communism in the context of the Cold War, liberalism ceased to be an alternative ideological current for foreign policy, expressed on the basis of a different political agenda. Militarism united both currents, and although differences persisted between conservatives and liberals in regard to the procedures to be utilized, nearly no one questioned the strategic importance of US expansionism. Isolationism became obsolete during the Second World War. The United States no longer was separated from the rest of the world by the ocean or by anything. Like the dollar, its soldiers appeared everywhere’ (Arboleya 2008:138)” (Charles McKelvey, The Cold War and Imperialism).
“At the height of the Cold War, the threat of Soviet invasion lurked constantly in the minds of Western Europeans. Their fears were not unfounded: a majority of the land that lay to the east of the “Iron Curtain” had become subjected to the direct influence of the Kremlin. The Kremlin’s coercive arm, the Red Army, stood at the ready along multiple European borders. It was in this context that the governments of the Western world sought to pool their collective military forces in order to better withstand any potential Soviet aggression. Thus, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (or NATO) was born.
Unified in their solidarity against the communist menace, the member states of NATO shared common purpose. The eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, however, deprived them of this common purpose: no longer was there an imminent, existential threat to the capitalist countries of Western Europe. Many would argue that NATO, with its original rationale for existence made inapplicable years ago, is irrelevant in the modern era. Yet this could not be further from the truth. NATO is still a highly relevant organization within the framework of contemporary international affairs due to the active role it plays in collective security,humanitarian intervention, and international politics, and therefore will become all the more prominent in the future.
In the post-Cold War era, NATO is becoming increasingly indispensable to its member states as the West transitions from a security landscape defined by a single, dominant threat, to one defined by a diverse range of credible threats. As previously explained, NATO was originally established to respond to the possibility of a Soviet offensive against Western Europe. Its sole objective was to protect the borders of its constituent states from unwelcome intrusion by the Eastern bloc. In these circumstances, few additional issues were of particular concern to NATO. This alliance against a mutual Soviet nemesis would persist throughout the duration of the Cold War, right up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. However, once the U.S.S.R. withered away into the pages of global history, NATO suffered from what some characterize as an “identity crisis,” (Friedan, Lake, and Schultz 187). Stripped of its source of strategic unity, NATO had no inherent reason to exist” (Neil Misra, The Relevance of NATO in the Modern World).
Neil Misra argues that NATO was born of mutual defense, and to dissuade communistic rhetoric in the Western Hemisphere, that the world most needed somebody to stand against communism, as the ideology couldn’t work in all countries. Arguable, it seems he is correct, as in a planned economy (and a communist society is a planned economy, there is some sort of central bureau that has to make decisions about what to produce), it’s left to bureaucrats and planners. Worse, there are no prices in a pure Communist society, no indicators bringing together the information of thousands or even millions of people on the subject. How do you know how many cars, how much bread, how many wrenches and pens and notebooks to produce? How do you decide how many of any of thousands of goods and services to produce? You don’t. The economy fails to function, stuck in a layer of juxtaposition that it cannot remove itself from due to the nature of the established bureaucracy.
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And herein lies the problem. We find with significant obviousness that America has not only consistently and in a manner that is completely unchecked flexed it’s metaphorical muscles for the sake of military and political gain, but has determined with great affluence that it deserves the right to maintain it’s place as the strongest sovereign entity within the United States.
Recently, with the increase by President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump, of the military budget by $52.6 billion, America has continued towards this path of imperialistic doctrine, and has shown that it does not plan for there to be a cease in such military action across the globe, especially considering the new conflagration of events with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It is, without a doubt, apparent that America take action and begin to make strides towards stricter regulation of our Armed Forces.
It is apparent that a moratorium must go into effect, as that would halt our expansionist policies and put a limit upon how much we grow militarily, this means that enlistment would be put on halt, and funding to the military cut, to a respectable 54%, and current service members moved into other government jobs or cut and given extremely well thoughtout benefits so that they may work on pursuing a better, more fulfilling life, post service.
Another possible solution to this issue would be the disarmament of the United States of America, including, but not limited to, decommissioning old vessels, giving our old armaments to our allies, and removing funding for newer technology. The United States could also recommission the military’s purpose and put it towards funding and aiding humanitarian causes, and fulfilling global treaties, as well as move the United States into a state of armed neutrality. The United States of America’s military and military budget are both so massive that they could easily be used for the purpose of nation-building and gentrification in countries that are less developed than the United States of America.
Ultimately, the fact of the matter is that the United States Armed Forces needs a mass downsizing, either in the form of budget cuts, disarmament, the removal of our military bases in foreign nations, a refocus on Humanitarian Effort, or the decommissioning of our forces so that the military can be put into a smaller, more justifiable size.
From the written and spoken testaments of several sources, as well as the general opinion of our allied countries, citizens, and politicians, it is apparent that America must slow or cease military expenditure and military operations and divert funding from the military towards more useful sources, such as domestic gentrification, education, space exploration programs, healthcare, or civil affairs. America must lead the world as a true show of democracy, freedom and liberty, without succumbing to globalist imperialism, international rhetoric or the whims of our politicians.
It is absolutely imperative that America begin to make a change, lest we begin to sacrifice the survival of the citizen, for the survival of our Armed Forces. Ultimately, funding must be cut and a moratorium put upon military-based operations, as well as a cut to supporting our allies’ militaries. America must demilitarize.
Freidman, George. “Coming to Terms With the American Empire.” Stratfor.com. N.p., 04 Apr. 2015. Web. 07 Feb. 2017.
Misra, Neil. “The Relevance of NATO in the Modern World.” SIR Journal. N.p., 4 Dec. 2015. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.
Webster, Noah. New Collegiate Dictionary. A Merriam-Webster. Springfield, MA: G. & C. Merriam, 1963. Print.
McKelvey, Charles. “The Cold War and Imperialism.” Global Learning. N.p., 3 Oct. 2013. Web. 21 Mar. 2017.
Frieden, Jeffry A., David A. Lake, and Kenneth A. Schultz. World Politics: Interests, Interactions, Institutions. New York: W.W. Norton, 2016. Print.
Nef, John Ulric. War and Human Progress: An Essay on the Rise of Industrial Civilization. New York: Norton, 1978. Print.
Eisenhower, Dwight D. The Cumulated Indexes to the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953-1961. Millwood, NY: KTO, 1978. Print.
Shaughnessy, Larry. “One Soldier, One Year.” CNN. N.p., 12 Feb. 2012. Web. 3 Mar. 2017.
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