On NBC’s Today Show (Wednesday, June 12, 2008) Senator John McCain was asked by Matt Lauer when he thinks US troops will return from Iraq. McCain replied, “That’s not too important. What’s important is the casualties in Iraq. Americans are in South Korea, Americans are in Japan, American troops are in Germany. That’s all fine.”
No, Senator, it is NOT fine.
It is precisely the fact that American troops are in nearly 130 countries around the world that is so woefully wrong. According to the web site, globalsecurity.org, there are an estimated 350,000 US troops stationed around the world “performing a variety of duties from combat operations, to peacekeeping, to training with foreign militaries”.
Why? Why are they there?
The reason, clearly, is to support a de facto US Empire and protect American business interests by the constant, visible display of military might. By sustaining and promoting the policies of empire, the United States has turned its back on democracy and skillful diplomacy and statesmanship thus alienating much of the world and dramatically increasing the ranks of the Al Qaeda network of terrorists and similar groups.
Let it not be asserted that the US troops in Guatemala, Germany or Japan are there to protect US citizens. They are not. Troops are stationed in those far-flung nations to protect corporate interests and to intimidate the local government and the population. All but the most cursory reading of the history of US military personnel on foreign soil will provide the reader with little evidence that ordinary US citizens benefit from their presence. (The exact opposite is true as will be stated below.) Troops are stationed in Okinawa for the same reason the Roman legions occupied Gaul or Britain: to maintain an empire. And it is well known that for similar reasons much of the world considers the United States of America the single largest threat to world peace and stability; a greater threat than Al Qaeda, Iran, North Korea, Hezbollah or Hamas.
Furthermore, by spending more than $620 Billion each year to support a US global military presence - nearly $350 million a day in Iraq alone - US social programs (e.g. education, job training, health care, social security, EPA, etc) are continually gutted, ignored or abandoned in direct opposition to the expressed will of the American people. Ordinary US citizens are therefore, by the existence of a phenomenally bloated military budget, deprived of the benefits and services they desire from their government and for which they pay taxes.
The choice is simple: support a failing system of global military empire-building with an ever increasing, crushing debt or re-build our society with a fraction of what successive administrations have spent year on year to subjugate, murder, torture, control and deleteriously influence the lives of innocent people while enriching the wealthy.
This ain’t rocket science.