Monday, November 21, 2011

Leaving Iraq

Last month it was announced by the Obama administration that the United States will be leaving Iraq by the end of the year. This will come as a relief to many americans who are weary of almost nine years of news of americans dying in a war which was started on incorrect intelligence. But pulling out of Iraq also causes one to consider a bigger question. Why is it that the United States is so militarily involved in world affairs?

To drive home the point of my rhetorical question lets compare the military spending of the United States to that of the rest of the world. According to Global Issues, total world wide military spending in 2010 came to 1.62 trillion dollars of which the 43% was spent by the United States. Let me repeat that. The United States accounts for almost half of all the worlds military spending.

This hefty expense accounts for about 20% of the federal governments annual budget as depicted in the following graph from The Center on Budget Policy Priorities.
(click image to enlarge)

In addition, the United States has a military presense which spans the globe. The following graph comes from the wikipedia entry 'List of United States Military Bases'.
(click image to enlarge)

Now don't get me wrong, I do believe in having a strong military but maybe instead of spending six times more than China (our biggest competitor) we could only spend, say, 3 times as much. What do you think?

 But on a more serious note, there is really no reason for the United States to play police man for the world. It allows our allies to spend far, far less on their military since they know they can rely on the U.S. to help them if there is ever a need. Also, it has been a major contributor to our current economic woes and if not addressed, will likely help bring about our economic destruction within the next couple of decades.

Unfortunately, I am not optimistic about such reductions occuring anytime soon. There are powerful interest which benefit from the military industrial complex and as a result, changes are unlikely to happen until the money well runs dry.

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