Imperial America

It’s good to see Democrats in Congress finally showing some gumption when it comes to reining in military spending.

As the Boston Globe reported Tuesday (Feb. 27), they’re closely examining the Pentagon’s request for nearly $100 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan combat funding, culling out the numerous requests for expensive equipment not related to those conflicts, including $14 billion for redundant armored vehicles.

But that’s only a beginning. Militarily, the United States now is a grand imperial power that bestrides the planet like a colossus. As the great UC Berkeley political analyst Chalmers Johnson has written in his latest book, Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, the U.S. now operates at least 737 military bases in other people’s countries. We spend around $750 billion a year supporting this gargantuan military presence.

Nobody is arguing that the United States shouldn’t have a strong defensive capability, but the reach and power of the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex’s influence on federal spending are dangerous to the long-term health of the nation. The national treasure is being spent on weaponry, when it could go to making the country stronger in the ways that really work—in health care, education, research and cleaning the environment.