Sometimes things are wrong in the world and we think we know how to fix them. For example, we know that we’re polluting the atmosphere and we know that if hybrid cars became mandatory around the world, pollutant levels would drastically fall. We know the problem, we know the solution. But what about situations when we know something is wrong in the world and the solution we’d like to propose would make things even worse? This is the case with US military spending.

Personally I would love to think that the US would drastically cut their military spending. Being the only military superpower in the world why do they need to be so much further ahead of the others? In 2003, the US military budget was $380bn, compared to just $150bn spent by all EU countries combined. Well, the more I think about it the more I come to the conclusion that their need to be a military superpower is due more to economic reasons than geopolitical ones.

I am reminded of John Hinckley, the crazy young man who tried to kill Ronald Reagan to impress Jodie Foster, the actress. I believe the US needs to show their power around the world as a way to impress other countries, and convince them to continue hoarding US currency. Allow me to explain. The US has the worst spending habits of any nation in the world: it’s budget deficit was $402bn in 2004 and it’s growing. It’s trade deficit is enormous as well. So how does the United States manage to continue its deficit saga? By convincing other countries around the world, mostly Asian countries, to hold on to its currency, the US dollar. And they do, in absurd ways. China and Taiwan alone hold over a trillion dollars in US reserves. Why do these countries hold these reserves? What is it that impresses them about a country of spendaholics? What makes them trust a country that consumes much more than it saves? Its military power! If you are in the business of overspending and need to generate trust around the world in order to continue your consumer binge, you don’t need to “show them the money.” Showing them “the power” has proved to be enough. With the military power of the US it is hard to conceive other nations threatening action to collect on their debts should the US default. Conclusion: so long as the US continues to spend like there’s no tomorrow, it should continue building up an army that will prevent anyone from ever collecting.

The US needs to maintain its positiom as a military superpower in order to convince other nations to continue to hold the dollar as its main foreign currency reserve, in spite of its enormous trade and budgetary deficits.

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Antoin O Lachtnain on May 26, 2005  · 

You are completely right, being a military superpower is a hiding-to-nothing. That’s why the European colonial countries quit doing it. It wasn’t because they were weak or lacked leadership. They just realised that emerging forms of warfare and the shift from a raw materials economy to a manufacturing and knowledge economy made it impossible to control resources through military power.

It appears to me that the US is taking a gamble that access to energy resources will make their campaign worthwhile. Of course it is greatly facilitated by the problems of many Arab countries.

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Hernán L. Romay on May 27, 2005  · 

It really hurts me to see a country I love so much as the United States of America go clearly in the wrong direction, in terms of social and moral values. Nobody can deny that the US is the country that gives more to the poor, as it is demosntrated in all books at the UN and other world organizations but, it seems that the more they give the more their government feels it can take back from other sides of the world… The fact that president Bush was reelected even after the atrocities in Afganistan, Irak and Guantanamo, just to name a few, gives the rest of the world the idea that anti American feelings prior to these events were something more than prejudice…
Regarding the military spending, unfortunately I think there can only be one goal for that, which I´d rather don´t mention.
On our side, I believe faith moves mountains. If the rest of the world unites and opposes this type of military buildup, I´m sure the US will be forced to stop at some point.

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