Is the US Military Spreading Itself Too Thin?

Benedict By Benedict, 26th Nov 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

Although American nation-building and direct foreign intervention has been a contentious issue for years, the subject of American military bases throughout the world is much more rarely discussed. How can American exceptionalism persevere into the 21st century when the butter of the US military is spread over too much global bread?

My Own Background

An Australian, I nonetheless follow US politics very closely. Overall, I believe having America as the world's most powerful nation best serves the interests of democracy, free markets, international stability and individual freedom. Intense squabbles and ineffectiveness amongst members of the European Union, exposed again during repeated fiscal crises and the Libyan intervention, demonstrate the need for a continued strong US presence in all aspects of global affairs.

In my teens, as a member of Australia's biggest conservative party, I supported the Iraq War. Yet in the years that followed I began to see the intense - and still growing - threats to American hegemony. Neo-conservatives and more recently the Obama Administration have continued the dispersal of US forces across almost all corners of the world. Figures such as paleo-conservative Pat Buchanan and Congressman Ron Paul captured my support so intensely that I now consider myself an anti-interventionist in the majority of the global entanglements the US finds itself in.

The prospect - and bonafide guarantee - of a militarily much stronger China in the next decade demands I ask the question of why America continues to have a plethora of military bases and installations. Individual deployments in countries such as South Korea and Japan are actually larger than the entire ground-based forces of my native Australia. And for what? How does this ensure the protection of vital American interests when countless other less strategically important nations play home to American troops as well?

Learning the Lessons of Iraq - or not?

The frustrating and costly invasion, occupation and now military care-taking of Iraq illustrates a now accepted need for reform in how America pursues any future foreign intervention. So why hasn't this critical approach trickled down to policies on other foreign, albeit non-combat, military deployments?

A number of disappointing and almost always ignored examples prove my point:

- American military bases outside Iraq in the Middle East, especially in the Gulf, have done nothing to control the growing aspirations of a close to nuclear-armed Iran.
- Syria, long acknowledged as a sponsor of international terrorism, is only facing political reform on the back of the anger of the Syrian people, not the pressure of American military power nearby or an American-funded Israel.
- Egypt's post-Mubarak military ruling caste is courting the ire of the Egyptian people because of its anti-democratic and anti-liberty policies, yet American military 'authority' in the Middle East is doing little, if anything, to change their approach.
- The United States has maintained forces in Saudi Arabia for decades, yet the home of militant Wahhabi Islam continues to inspire new breeds of Islamic terrorist leaders. Osama bin Laden and the Saudi Arabian contingent of the 9/11 hijackers are only the most infamous cases. Even if al-Qaeda and its offshoots reject the autocratic Saudi regime, both parties share a common, fundamentalist interpretation of Islam and Sharia law. American troop deployments have not changed this situation.
- The historically large US forces in South Korea did nothing to deter the development, testing and threatened use of nuclear weapons by North Korea.
- The attempted courting of Pakistan as an "ally" and base for US forces in and around Afghanistan is backfiring now as the Pakistani government fails to reform and police itself, let alone its failure to deal with al-Qaeda or find Osama bin Laden on its own territory.

The Risk of a Non-American Century

It should seem obvious that a new era without America as its central power would be damaging across the globe, but its likely consequences appear ignored. I deduce this from the fact that even as relative American influence declines, not even a moderate change appears to be taking place in US strategy.

The power of the United States vis-a-vis China is rapidly diminishing. The window of opportunity for reform is also closing, especially as any wholesale shift would require time to both implement and feel its effects, for either the United States or its potential rivals. Should the predicament not be taken seriously, the once proud, now plateauing Eagle will make way for the ascendent Dragon.


American Values, Bush, Bush Administration, China, Obama, Obama Administration, Us Military

Meet the author

author avatar Benedict
I'm an unconventional young man with a predilection for saying and doing what I feel.

I seek adventure and abhor most forms of political correctness.

I crave travel, debate politics and love life.

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author avatar Robb714
27th Nov 2011 (#)

You a pinko stupid, publicly educated idiot. What the fux, has your country done to stabilize the world. STFUASD! You have absolutely no effin clue of geopolitics and what drives, whatsoever, globally. Stick a smock in your mouth and stop blathering until you have something intelligent (that you understand) to say. It is dumb fux like you that keep this wonderful world in turmoil, tbh~!

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author avatar Benedict
27th Nov 2011 (#)

What my country has or has not done is not the issue at all here.

The fact is that America IS declining and unless there is some change in strategy, China will become the world's most powerful nation.

Nice to see you can troll. Well done.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
27th Nov 2011 (#)

As an American (although I currently live in Canada) I appreciate hearing your views because America must really think hard about the issues you have pointed out.

America is really suffering now because so much money is going to the military.

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author avatar Benedict
27th Nov 2011 (#)

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate it.

As I said, I think America needs to be Number One in this world. But it only has finite resources. 5% of the world's population can't be stationing its troops almost everywhere and expect to have the same level of power. I hope I'm making myself clear?

Yeah, you make a superb point about the money. I was just thinking, too, about the general money that goes into such nation-building besides the military!

It is always a risk for people like me to present our views as, despite being, moderately conservative/libertarian, we're branded as leftists.

How's your son? Enjoying the military life?

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