Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Sorest Loser: Our Military Culture

Yes compadres, The Sorest Loser is back. Check his home site thang right here.

Meanwhile, I'm continuing my summer swoon, which accounts for the relative lack of blog postage of late. The biggest thing stressing me is my Transplants interview and album review, which I'll try to bang out this week. Meanwhile, I'm finally (finally finally...) in the final stages of finishing up Ball Out.


There are many reasons to be worried about our country‘s future, but here is one that is rarely discussed -- our gradual descent into a military state.

America used to be light years ahead of every other country on most important measures, but the gap has narrowed. Our economic might is not what it once was. We have gone from being the world’s largest creditor to its largest debtor. China and the European Union have emerged as near equal players, and India‘s star is rising. The brightest people in the world once clamored to study and work here. But today the incentive to do so is no longer as great, and our immigration policies make it very difficult for foreigners to obtain visas (even student visas). And globalization has leveled the playing field. As Tom Friedman notes in his new book, unlike twenty years ago, a genius in Bangalore now has about as many opportunities there as he would here. We have lost our manufacturing base to countries where labor is cheaper. An offer by a Chinese company to buy an American one sends Congress into a tizzy.

Still, we are eons ahead of the rest of the world in one important category: military might. Nobody has the weapons capabilities that we do. Our military budget is as large as the rest of the world’s combined. If you include all of the additional appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan, our military budget significantly exceeds the rest of the world’s. And yet we have no significant enemies. Sure, there’s the threat of terror and the occasional rogue state, but these are like fleas on a St. Bernard. Under these conditions, maintaining this huge military budget is madness.

Until recently I couldn’t understand why we would spend so much on our military. But perhaps it’s precisely because it is our last remaining advantage. Without our military, we we would be no more important on the global stage than England, France, or Germany. Without our military nothing would set us apart from the rest of the world. Perhaps, then, part of what’s driving our obsession with the military is our understanding that, without it, America would lose its hegemony.

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