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Kill the globo cop biz before it kills the USA
By David H. Hackworth
The Christmas season's here once more. But for thousands of our defenders, the holidays are resounding with tramping boots in foreign lands rather than yuletide caroling at home. Once again our warriors are deployed around the globe, fighting in dangerous places and continuing to defend other people's turf for reasons that don't always compute.
Since I was a kid, the sound of American boots marching off to war has come to seem as inevitable to the young men of this nation -- and now, unfortunately, to the young women as well -- as spring rain.
First there was World War II, a just war against totalitarian monsters in which -- as with today's terrorist crazies -- we had to either whip 'em or wind up suffering the terrible consequences.
But once the Axis was put down in 1945, America became the self-appointed guardian of Western civilization, and Johnny didn't come marching home. Like the Romans and Brits before us, we began setting up outposts around the world without any mind of the burden or the cost.
This long occupation has been intermittently interrupted by the occasional hot war, as with Korea -- another just conflict that certainly was in our national interests -- or Vietnam -- where we had no reason for going except the greed of the war profiteers.
More tramp, tramp, tramping of American boots was heard after Vietnam, first in Lebanon, then Grenada and Panama, followed by Kuwait and Iraq, Somalia and Haiti and Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia. Few of these operations had anything to do with our national security, but all have been big winners when it comes to the bottom lines of the companies and individuals that make up the military-industrial-congressional complex. Special kudos should go here to the hard-lobbying oil cartel, which continues to make sure our way of life includes bigger and better gas-guzzling SUVs. Defending those far-flung oil fields keeps ratcheting up the goodies -- troops, toys and dollars -- in the game.
Not only have the past six decades of hot- and cold-war bucks been finger-lickin' good for the game's insiders who slip back and forth between government and business, they have also motivated a lot of fanatics around the world to hate all things American. And now many of these scary types are willing to kamikaze planes into buildings on Main Street USA or drive explosive-laden trucks into our facilities in other countries where we probably shouldn't be.
We maintain about 100,000 military personnel in both Europe and Asia -- where many of the locals want us gone yesterday -- at a cost of billions of dollars per year. The locals rightly say that we've overstayed our mission, which ended when another empire, the Soviet Union, bellied up and followed the path of the Romans and the Brits into history's dustbin. So it doesn't make a lick of military sense. Not only are these people more than capable of defending themselves against now mainly nonexistent threats, the average Hans and Kim are chanting, "Yankee go home."
Look at Europe, which we've defended with our blood and dollars since before we got stuck into both World Wars. After madmen clobbered the USA on Sept. 11, our so-called friends there couldn't wait to criticize us for punching out the perps, and now they're offering little help in this critical fight. If the twin towers had been the Eiffel Tower and we didn't rush to the rescue, the French would be demanding we return the Statue of Liberty!
Sure we need a strong military ready to defend America, but we need one that -- as opposed to the Roman, Brit and Soviet models -- follows the wise guidance of our Founding Fathers when they said that we shouldn't do a Pax Americana and stick our nose in other folks' dealings.
As we celebrate peace and good will on Earth, we must examine each overseas commitment and ask: Does this mission have the moral right? Is it in our national interest? And is it a militarily imperative or just a good deal to make the MICC's cash register ring?
The arms biz is where, sadly, we lead the world by a factor of four in ventures that more than often have little to do with peace or good will.
http://www.hackworth.com is the address of David Hackworth's home page. Sign in for the free weekly Defending America column at his Web site. Send mail to P.O. Box 11179, Greenwich, CT 06831. (c) 2001 David H. Hackworth
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