Washington now has military forces in about 130 countries, fighting in some of them, peacekeeping and training foreign military units in others. You can hear George Washington turning in his grave.
Using official statistics, the editors at Global Security report there are 155 combat battalions in the US army. Before October 2001, only 17 of those were deployed on active combat service, in Kosovo and a few other hotspots (garrison deployment in Germany and Japan is not regarded as "active combat" service). Today, that figure stands at 98 combat battalions deployed in active areas.
Even a non-military expert can see this is an impossibly high number to sustain over the longer term, which is why, in addition to the 255,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard forces deployed in combat and peacekeeping missions abroad, the US has sent another 136,000 troops from the National Guard and Reserves.
Most of the US carrier fleet are now back in their bases, being refitted after the defeat of Saddam Hussein, but Washington still has 40,000 sailors afloat and on mission. Meanwhile, the US generals are asking for more troop deployments in Iraq, and the Pentagon has just diverted three warships to the coast of Liberia.
Is this the US future -- to have its troops stationed for an undefined time on the Northwest Frontier or in a disease-ridden port in West Africa or some other outpost?
Washington frantically denies it has imperial ambitions, and I believe those denials to be sincere. But if the US increasingly looks like an empire, walks like an empire and quacks like an empire, perhaps it is becoming one just the same.
[T]he United States is an imperial power with a vested interest in maintaining a certain level of stability in the international political system, and that stability maintenance requires, as it has of every other imperial power, occasional military intervention along the imperial periphery. The uniqueness of the American empire as a voluntary association of market democracies does not alter the imperial obligations of the United States as the center of that empire. Imperial states meddle in small wars for reasons ranging from deterrence of escalation to protection of friends and allies.
Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards
A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.
Lo alecha ha-m'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hibateyl mimenah.