Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Tuesday, August 05, 2003
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An Empire Stretched Thin

Paul Kennedy writes in The Australian:

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?

Excellent question. Kos has discussed rotation issues and how stretched our military is--I'm not going to bother finding the links. Reading all this just makes me wonder how the GOP continues to be viewed as stronger on national security when they appear to be engaging us in snipe hunts all around the world.

Kennedy concludes:

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.

Um, duh? I briefly blogged about this in June. Quoting from an Air War College paper:

[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.

I'm not an isolationist, but I see our numerous deployments as part of the terrorism problem. There are 192 countries in the world, and we have a presence in 130 of them. Bush asked "why do they hate us?" He concluded that they "hate our freedom." No. They hate how our tentacles cover two-thirds of the globe. They hate how we require the world to follow rules as we willfully ignore them. They hate how we export violence. Time to choose a different path, or our empire will fall just as the Romans did.


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A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

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