Category Archives: War

Will a Sex Scandal (terrorist act?) Collapse Our Military Budget

General Allen, who is now commanding our forces in Afghanistan, sent 30,000 pages of personal emails to Jill Kelly, a married socialite and mother of three, during the two year period he has been conducting the Afghanistan war. Ms. Kelly turned General Patraeus, head of America’s Central Intelligence Agency over to the FBI when she received threatening emails from Paula Broadwell, Patraes’s mistress.

Now 30,000 pages amounts to General Allen writing three pages of personal emails to Jill Kelly for every hour of every day of every month that the General was awake in Afghanistan. Not judging his need for personal relations with Jill Kelly, but is anyone concerned that the commander of our armed forces spent this much time not focused on the critical issues of his command?

It has come out that General Allen’s emails were of a “flirtatious nature.” We tend to think our Generals are like steel sheets, unaffected by the horrors of war. Yet three pages of emails per hour per every day of the year seems more like an obsessive response of PTSD to try to forget about how war affects one. I do not see how he can take on his next, larger assignment after displaying such a distracted attention to the men and women in harm’s way in Afghanistan.

America’s two top military officials have been taken down, not by their dalliances, but by the bizarre connection these affairs had to Ms. Kelly. Ms. Broadwell accused Ms. Kelly of “squeezing the General’s leg” under the table. If true, how did Ms. Kelly gain such “close” access to America’s chief spy?

Why would Ms. Kelly be involved so deeply in the lives of America’s top military officials? Why did this married mother of three have such access to and encourage such a distraction like 30,000 pages of emails during America’s war when so many soldiers are in harm’s way? Did Ms. Broadwell’s affair uncover a sexterrorist cell in Tampa? Or Did Ms. Broadwell believe she was instead a patriot helping our nation’s military leaders deal with the stress of war?

And why would Ms. Kelly run to her connection in the FBI when her hand-on-thigh movement was uncovered? Why would this yet undisclosed FBI agent uncover his torso and send pictures to Ms. Kelly? And why would the naked torso FBI agent circumvent his superiors and go to Congress when he felt they would cover up not only his torso but Patraeus’ thigh and Allen’s flirty emails? What is it about this woman that has made all these men cuckoo? And why is this perhaps unintended espionage coming out in the midst of the single most critical debate about the future of our nation’s military budget.

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Float Reality for Just a Moment…… Could America be in an Extremist Bubble? (Revised)

Have you ever taken a jigsaw puzzle down from the closet on a rainy day and worked on its 1,000 pieces to completion? Ever stare at the puzzle that you have worked on for hours, only to find it is missing one important piece right in the middle of the puzzle? That missing puzzle piece might tempt you to insanity, first looking incessantly around the table, and then in the box, and in the closet where you kept the box, and in the garage where you originally stored the box before putting it the closet prior to bringing it out one rainy afternoon to spend hours working on the puzzle before realizing that one piece was missing!

To many, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements are frustrating puzzles with missing pieces. Some aggravatingly wonder why the Tea Party holds to their pledge of less government spending and taxes and why they are so willing to let America lunge over the cliff like a herd of possessed swine as they hold fast to their quest. It leads many to believe that Tea Partiers are just right wing ideologues blindly doing the bidding of globalist capitalists. Others question why Occupy Wall Streeters kept fluttering their fingers in free form street democracy even after authorities shut down their camps. They sensed that Occupiers were whiny idealists disrupting Middle America, following like sheep the directives of international Anarchists and Marxists who intend to destroy the capitalist foundations of America.

Many in America view these movements as extremist. But letting reality drift for a moment, what we found that these movements were actually Centrists and that America was the extreme one? If America were extreme, then under this remote scenario at least one of these two groups could actually be Centrist. If that were so, and if America could be tolerant for a moment, we might find that these movements were not irritating puzzles with missing pieces after all. We might conclude that they were truly two of the missing puzzle pieces that we are seeking in the midst of crisis, and that they were actually patriots trying to cajole America back to Centrism.

But many Americans don’t trust at least one of these movements for good reason. Those aggravated by the Tea Party surmise that it has accepted, as part of its platform, a globalist agenda that obfuscates itself in a cloak of Patriotism. Globalists solder Constitutional words like freedom onto words like trade so that the resulting power of the phrase “free trade” confuses America from a more prosperous course. Those annoyed by the Occupiers surmise that the Occupiers are influenced by Marxists who blame capitalism for harming America instead of the abuse of capitalism that has actually done the damage. However, if America paused for a moment to see that both movements were growing beyond their Globalist and Marxist roots, could we not find that they both have salient messages that could help turn-around America’s drifting course?

For the moment, let’s assume that both Occupy Wall Streeters and the Tea Party are solidly Centrist. Each appears extreme to some in America, so that is a difficult assumption. But if we suppose that America has indeed veered into extreme territory then we could imagine that they appear extreme because of America’s drift. Suppose that the bell curve of Western culture has shifted so far from true Centrism that America now stands on shifting sands of extreme change. If this were true, then America could perceive these two movements that might be chanting their centrist warnings from the terra firma, as if they are extremists spouting extremities, when in actuality they are not. If this were true, then America’s perception of itself being Centrist could also be quite extreme.

The following example might shed light on the pretense that America could already be extreme. As housing prices skyrocketed during the first half of the decade, their relative prices compared similarly. As prices shot into the stratosphere like a runaway freight train, mid priced homes continued to price in the middle of the mayhem, perhaps Centrist if you will. We now know however that what appeared as moderately Centrist home prices were actually quite radically priced.

Yet, while many Americans entered the house flipping craze, a few held steady mortgages for years. They did not refinance to meet material wants and they lived within their long term means. Many at the time viewed their peculiar steadfastness as ultra conservative. Yet we now know that they were only conservative through the lens of America’s momentary lapse of judgment. They were in fact true Centrists by historical terra firma standards.

If one example of misinterpreted centrism exists, might there be others? When a tsunami slams the shore, it forever rips the landscape from its modest history into a extreme future. The two World Wars of the 20th century that swept 80 million people off the face of the earth was a social tsunami. In its deadly wake, America produced Boomer Babies that disrupted the balance of everything in their path. Some would say that this Baby Boom tsunami swept America’s culture to extremes in unobservable slow motion, except to those who deliberately paused to reflect how Boomers ripped the world from its foundation.

If the two Great War tsunamis that destroyed 80 million souls and the subsequent tidal wave of Baby Boomers did in fact violently sweep America off its centrist foundation, perhaps the view from our shifted reality is now not Centrist at all, but instead radical. We tend to think of progress as forward motion. Any reversion of progress to a former era is viewed as radical. However, if we are really already radical, then placing America’s path back on the centrist foundation it would have had been on if not for our Baby Boomer tsunami should not be labeled as a radical reversion but rather as a righting of our true Centrist progression.

History shows that America did not return to our stable, pre-WWII Centrist path after the war. In fact, an objective examination of history would show that our entire generation embarked on a path that could in objective hindsight only be labeled as extremist, whether observed through the prism of either the conservatives or the progressives. If we are to find a way back to a growing and secure future in America, it is now time to honestly reflect on our history. That reflection might conclude that America did get caught up in a tsunami of extremism.

Our first post-war extremist thrust by both conservatives and progressives was to barrel down the path of building a military greater than all other nations combined. After WWII, America determined that an overwhelming military, more powerful than had ever existed before, was the correct measured response to the 20th century’s industrial unleashing of mankind’s destructive nature that had twice swarmed its deadly will. Our obsession with military superiority imbedded itself into our culture of defense and created a partially planned economy in America centered on our military complex. In the process of creating this modern dynasty of protection, our collective extremism sacrificed our economy to stave off the inevitability of man’s destruction.

We then recklessly spent our children’s future hoping not only to prevent the war that might otherwise end humanity, but also hoping to end poverty and oppression. After decades of budget increases, we were able to provide our poor with material consumption that made them wealthier than 85 percent of the rest of the world, but at what cost? Our national debt is now over 100 percent of our GDP. A centrist review of America’s deficit spending would have to conclude that we have not been Centrist in our spending.

Our extremism was not confined to the military and the Great Society. Baby Boomers also naively lived in the moment without securing our retirement. We now have a crisis over the empty coffers of Social Security and Medicare but we knew for decades it would come because America’s Baby Boomer generation chose not to save even knowing doing so would end in crisis. Was it not extremist to plan to bankrupt our children, forcing them to enjoy only half of our materialism so that we could consume half of their future? This extremist denial of responsibility to pay for our own military and Great Society excesses glaringly contradicted our perception that we were centrist champions of social equity.

Our generation spent our children’s’ future to extend the great society, to stave off Armageddon, and to enjoy the fruits of our parent’s frugality. Having forsaken our foundation of Centrism by indenturing future generations to pay for our excesses, how could we judge others who found it acceptable to gut America of jobs and factories, or who built banking Ponzis that indebted Americans to feed our capital to China. Who were we to judge when the Federal Reserve shook down other nations to fund our excesses or when the two reigning parties of Congress sold their souls to secure continuing re-elections.

With such moral ambiguity, we became trapped in relativism. Our nation was then unchained from any semblance of fiscal restraint and was free to drift toward a new norm of extremism, one in which we could argue amongst each other the relative turpitude of our choices while at the same time viewing our own progressive or conservative ideas as Centrist. In this drift toward a conscious denial of extremism, there were too few of our generation that publicly warned America for having been as extreme as posterity will most undoubtedly judge us to have been.

Finally in desperation, Tea Partiers exclaimed that this nation had drifted so far from its original moorings that they had to stand up to America’s extremism. Aghast, America bemoaned this movement’s presumption of claiming they were the purveyors of True North. Yet, if America has drifted into extremism, then the Tea Partiers actually were most clearly viewing our danger, and should be regarded as heroes for having identified our nation’s drift before it destroyed us.

Some claim that the Tea Party’s adoption of Globalist ideas has kept it from winning over America to reverse our joblessness, a symptom of our excess. Even though their keen observation of our extremist drift did help to fight the expansion of our extreme Federal budget deficit, it did not give them the ability to see all excesses and to find a way to bring America back fully to Centrism. As such, the Wall Street Occupiers have emerged to help identify a possible course correction, and I suspect other movements will emerge as well.

America is annoyed by these two movements’ persistence, almost like an alcoholic would be annoyed by an intervention. Yet intolerantly scapegoating these movements will not change the fact that we are floating on debris of relative progress. However, if our entire Baby Boomer generation is “the bubble” and all of these economic bubbles that were and that are unfortunately imminently yet to come, are just exacerbations of our true bubble, then our Baby Boomer bubble must, as all bubbles do, return to its point of trend origin so that the world can begin again its balanced progression.
We can continue to argue in the extreme that housing prices should remain high but they will not. We can argue in the extreme that the stock market should stay inflated but it will return to its historical trend. We can argue that our national budget should continue artificially bloated to fund our Baby Boomer experiments of the war on poverty and a military to end all wars but it cannot. A few of our elite will continue to argue that unemployment will have to drift sideways for years to come, but it cannot. Instead America will drift back to what can be funded by the normal and Centrist progression of tomorrow’s workers and we will once again find our Centrist path.

We can continue our disdain for the “extremists” of our country, yet they are the Centrists of True North and we are unfortunately the extremists. To disdain ourselves would be unhealthy and thus we must return to a path of Centrism. Our nation was thrown excessively off course by world events and our Centrist Tea Party pointed out our excesses. Our Centrist Occupiers are searching for a way back to a Centrist capitalist democracy. Can we, having taken this journey of disorientation, now find our way back to true Centrism as well?

Inevitably, we will revert to the world’s centrist progression whether through the relative comfort of a blazoned and enlightened trail of American determination or through the precipitous fall of continued denial leading to economic implosion. However, the sooner we stop pointing fingers at our skewed perception of each other’s extremism and begin pulling our collective weight toward our historic and future Centrist progression, the sooner we will begin our nation’s reorientation to True North and the sooner we can begin our recovery.

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American Soldier’s Valentine, 2012

I crawled into that tunnel armed with pistol and a knife.
For my country’s freedom, gave all I had, my life.

Forget me not my valentine,
Indeed I showed you valor.
I only ask my love for you
be honored, and to matter.

For love of country fought I and died, her future now I keep.
You sent me here, now honor her, else price I paid too steep.
Yes I and fathoms more took armaments and won
to hold dear freedoms up lest they be trampled on.

Forget me not my valentine,
Apathy shreds heart asunder.
I bled red America, no more to give,
Fight back, they dare not plunder.

Standing here at Freedom’s Gate, I questioned not my duty.
Love unrequited, still I held my post, dying felt my country’s beauty.
A soldier’s fate to serve his God and country, plus fellow near…
Please America, this day remember to keep us soldiers dear.

Add sweat and tears of charity to blood that we may give.
Together, pledge shared sacrifice, America must live.

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Cautious Worldwide Win-Win Solutions Should be Sought

Vaclav Havel, Former Czech President, Commencement address at Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 1995
The problem with the premise of Vaclav Havel’s speech stating that we have essentially reached a single global society is that he contradicts himself throughout as if to say that it is merely his hope for future global achievement. I do not see evidence that mankind is evolving toward his ideal. Havel idealists can point to certain social structures and advances in the precedence of laws to suggest that we are progressing as a species. For instance as of 1981, all nations on earth have passed laws against slavery. And yet, others would point out that the earth contains more slaves in 2011 than at any other time in the recorded history of mankind.

We can point to the relative peace that has been achieved since WWII but this peace is not without precedence and has been at the extraordinary cost of the United States as hegemonist spending more than all other nations combined on military assets and personnel and creating technologies that could destroy the world many times over. And yet, with all this extraordinary expense of national will power, the number of battles has not decreased nor has the atrocities committed by nations or men.

We can point to the evolution toward democracy intertwined with capitalism as a trend away from the captive ideas of feudalism and mercantilism, yet where on Earth does true democracy exist? Globalism has reversed any trend toward economic and social freedoms envisioned by those that espoused the virtues of free enterprise of capitalism back toward even larger geographies of quasi-feudalism and mercantilism.

The nature of man is unfortunately not evolving at any measurable pace. The capacity of all is toward evil although 99 percent seek our better natures. The 1 percent who are ruled by their own sociopathic desires find positions of power when opportunities arise with which to pursue societal evil played one nation upon the other. The tools with which to accomplish this evil are unfortunately far outpacing mankind’s social progress.

To protect ourselves from those evil doers who have successfully harnessed other nations or societies, our societies have evolved to nation states and even larger civilizations of shared histories, shared cultures, and shared socioeconomic futures. However, because of the nature of mankind, we are far from evolving to a society that encompasses the entire world.

So mankind must cautiously move forward accepting as best we can winning compromises that allow others to win as well. Cautiously because we do not know if like all other bubbles of this period, that relative peace and cooperation are a bubble as well.

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Filed under American Governance, European Crisis, National Security, social trajectory, War, World Sustainability

Yes, America’s Views of World Events are Tempered by Armageddon

In 1973, I attended a church tent revival. It was a bit over the top for my conservative United Methodist upbringing with all the bible thumping going on, yet it mesmerized me as something one might picture right out of a Hollywood movie. And under this big tent in the field, with cars parked out to the road, with hundreds of gathered faithful protected from the harsh rays of the sun flapping their paper fans in unison to cool the sweat of mid day, a Billy Graham like preacher began to reach over the lectern and shout out his prophecies toward the pews.

As a young boy, I thought his words heretical for he was prophesying the end of America’s reign. Of course, he spoke in terms of greed and sin and the like but his predictions of the world to come sounded impossible to me. He out and out said that America would fall from grace and would no longer be the world’s super power. I did not know how he could even say such a thing, yet it was only the beginning of his supposed blasphemy.

He said that the world would come to desperately need oil. Now at the time, the land was producing plentifully, off shore developments were promising, and predictions of greater untapped oil beds were optimistic. In 1973, America’s dominance of the Mid East’s oil supply was evident and the world’s consumption was only hampered by OPEC so once again, I didn’t understand how this could come to pass.

He stated that the Soviets and all of Europe would form an alliance of governments. This was most strange to me, because in 1973, everywhere I turned I heard the horrors of communism, including however quirkily it seems, the fact that most mothers in Russia did not stay home to raise their children. That to my nurtured mind was the essence of communism. How could this Powerhouse of the communist world ever ally with free Europe unless Europe was no longer free?

His prophesies crescendoed to what every great Biblical prophecy proclaims, the battle of Armageddon. Yet this man was peering into my eyes and telling me not only that a great battle would occur, but he detailed how this great battle would unfold. He proclaimed that the great nations of the world would move their armies overland to the Middle East for this climatic war or wars. He said that the Soviet Union, Europe, and America would battle the great army of China in the oil fields of Persia. Wow, to me as a 13 year old boy who had just lived through the nightly news horrors and social upheavals of Viet Nam, this caricature of a travelling preacher shouting out these things was just fantastical.

At 13, the world seemed intransigent. Almost 40 years later, it seems much more pliable, and this now long past preacher’s words seem much more plausible. Certainly to a nation formed of Protestants and dominated by leaders proclaiming their beliefs in the bible, this preacher’s prophesies and those similar to his may have even set America’s expectations of fatalistic world events beyond our control and could have shaped our obsessions to dominate the world with our military in efforts to avert our future.

While my hope is that if in fact the Bible infallibly predicted such occurrences, that they occur well after my life is a distant memory of anyone living. My deeper hope is that those interpreting the words of this book are much more wrong than right in their assessment, or that if their interpretations are correct, that the Bible’s revelations are not fatalistic but that they can change if mankind changes our path as well. Yet interestingly, world events seem to continually be aligning themselves with this preacher’s prophecies, eerily supporting the fatalistic Christian view of an apocalyptic future.

The world does seem to be sliding toward a demise of America’s dominance and Europe is beginning to sense an alliance of Russia and Germany in an axis of financial strength that may dominate the collapsing Euro zone. As America exerts its continuing over sea dominance in the Pacific during its waning days, the East may in fact develop over land routes that thwart the West’s attempt to block its access to oil, free of western influence. And environmentalists’ and geologists’ claims of peak oil plus China’s accelerating demand for oil as she rises to dominance may in fact be a motive for the world’s next great conflict.

If America’s military dominance was in part influenced by our obsessive attempt to resist the outcome of prophesy, perhaps other, more globally accepted means of avoiding our down fall could culminate in time to save America. Perhaps financial and business obsessions can be an alternative to our obsession with military solutions and can be influenced to seek powerful energy alternatives to the draw of Mid East oil.

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America’s Asian Military Bases Must be Re-engineered, Resized, and Replaced

As America continues its campaign to subdue threats of militant Islam, cells of Al Qaida are now quietly sitting out the Arab Spring, reducing their threat to the United States even further. Yet our decade long focus on diminishing threats in the Middle East has drawn our attention away from a much greater threat to our national security, that of an escalating and interconnected Asian economy. China’s regional political and economic power now challenges a cornerstone of America’s foreign policy, the regional stability provided by our omnipresent military. Ultimately, a weaker American military role threatens the very security that America’s multinational corporations counted on when they embarked on a historic transfer of wealth from America to the East during the past three decades.

At the end of WWII in 1945, the United States placed massive encampments both in Germany and in Japan which later became our forward bases to deter communism during the Cold War. After WWII, the U.S. along with Russia separated Korea into North and South. This action created war in 1950, after which we set up bases along South Korea’s DMZ. America’s dual military Asian front still includes 129 military sites in Japan, three quarters of which are located on the islands of Okinawa, and 117 military sites in South Korea.

America’s placement of troops in Asia, our successful containment of communism, the Soviets distraction in Afghanistan for a decade beginning in 1979, and China’s simultaneous opening of their economy to the West gave American capitalists the relative safety to flood the East with investments. America’s factories throughout Asia coupled with “free trade” policies in the West supported East Asia’s phenomenal growth and strengthened regional political ties that built an economic juggernaut with China at its hub. The subsequent rise of China to preeminence has created a magnet that is drawing Japan and both Koreas toward her future. Their shifting alliances from the West to the East are now building momentum to pull the ground beneath America’s Asian bases out from under us.

A political battle ensued in 2008 in Japan to close the flagship of America’s Japanese military bases, our military complex on the islands of Okinawa. Located 1,800 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, the islands of Okinawa were occupied by 110,000 Japanese forces in a battle toward the end of the WWII that ended in the death of 150,000 of its civilians in the bloodiest battle of the war. Afterward, to the resentment of the Okinawans, the United States built a military complex covering over 20 percent of the main island that continues to house over half of the U.S. military personnel in Japan to this day.

Resentment to America’s occupation of Okinawa has increased over the years and with Japan’s growing ties to the rest of Asia, support for America’s continued military presence is waning. Japan no longer requires our military for defense, now that it supports its own highly advanced self defense force of 250,000 with the sixth largest military budget in the world. Our negative cultural influences in Japan, including crimes, noise, pollution, and our nuclear footprint have also created growing animosity.

In 2008, the progressive wave that swept Barak Obama to power in America also placed Yukio Hatoyama in the seat of power in Japan. Born into a Japanese democratic family dynasty similar to America’s Kennedys, upon his election Prime Minister Hatoyama promised to move Japan away from an American centric focus to strengthen Asian ties. In his short term in office, he stopped support for America’s Afghanistan efforts and warmed relations with both Korea and China, recognizing the East’s future importance to the fate of Japan. One of Hatoyama’s main campaign promises was to close the American bases located in Okinawa. When he was unable to accomplish this critical goal, he resigned in 2009. However, his leadership represented a rising tide among the Japanese people toward the East.

In 1991, Japan opened normalization talks with North Korea by formally apologizing for its occupation from 1910 to 1945. And though Japan’s war crimes still affect her relationship with China, Japan is now China’s largest trading partner. Nonetheless, in August of 2011, China called Japan’s questioning of her “overbearing military build-up” irresponsible. China increased its military spending 12 percent this year to $100 billion. (At this rate of increase, China’s military budget would equal America’s in 15 years)

Like Japan, South Korea has claimed the United States as an ally since WWII. As North Korea has one of the world’s largest standing armies of 1.2 million men as opposed to South Korea’s 700,000, and as North Korea also has a substantial advantage over South Korea in offensive weapons, the United States has continued to be an effective deterrent. Yet South Korea is also becoming weary of our continued military presence.

After having been liberated from Japanese occupation in 1945 and after having repelled China out of its country in 1950, South Korea officially opened ties to Japan in 1965 and to China in 1992. After announcing its sunshine policy in 1998, South Korea significantly advanced its relationship with North Korea and has been re-orienting itself toward reunification of the peninsula ever since. While still an ally of the U.S., South Korea nonetheless has become the most active promoter of strong ties between Asian countries including China. Both countries have been aggressively investing in their mutual neighbor, North Korea. China holds enormous sway with North Korea, as 75 percent of North Korea’s trade is with China alone.

After establishing diplomatic relations in 1992, in just ten short years, South Korea advanced China as its number one trading partner in 2003, surpassing the United States. In 2008, the two countries announced their relationship as a “strategic cooperative partnership.” With South Korea’s aggressive Sino-shift, nationalists within the country are actively questioning America’s involvement. The Korean War is less prominent in their minds and they are resistant to America’s new terrorism focus. Most recently, South Korean citizens have opposed a naval base on the island of Jeju that allegedly will be a transit for U.S. warships opposing China. However, as recent as today, South Korean officials denied that the United States will use the base for an offensive purpose.

China seems to be disciplining South Korea into its fold. Over the past decade, skirmishes between North and South Korea have given each the opportunity to exert their dominance. After multiple provocations by North Korea prodded South Korea to take a more firm military stance in 2008, North Korea sank a South Korean Navy vessel in 2010, prompting the U.S. to hold joint naval exercises with South Korea in the contested waters of the Yellow Sea in response. North Korea then attacked a small South Korean Island in the Yellow Sea.

Instead of siding with South Korea over this incident, China rebuked her. Recognizing her growing interdependence with China, South Korea’s response to China has since been to press even harder for diplomatic and economic relations while giving lip service to the United States of her continuing need for military and diplomatic ties.

Ultimately, the path forward for South Korea, North Korea, and China is clear, albeit potentially rocky. China and South Korea are aiming for $300 billion in bilateral trade within four years and their trade is growing at 22 percent per year. Negotiations toward a free trade agreement are also ongoing. For peace, stability and prosperity of the region, South Korea and China will ultimately build a path through and including North Korea in trilateral agreement, eventually reuniting the two Koreas.

What do Japan and South Korea’s overtures to the rest of Asia mean to the United States? We may find that soon our bases in both countries that we used to extend the strength of our military and to provide political stability that multiplied our economic strength coming out of WWII and that of our trading partners, will no longer be political acceptable to either Japan or Korea. The era of our military proximity to China may end.

Yet we no longer use these bases to contain communist aggression. The Cold War is over and war with China is unlikely in the near term. Maintaining bases in Japan and South Korea as deterrents to war is costly, and bases for counter terrorism in such places as Indonesia, certainly do not call for such a large footprint. Our proximity to China and to a militarized North Korea does present a surprise advantage to any future enemy attack, à la Pearl Harbor. We do still have defense commitments both to South Korea and to Taiwan but what is the size footprint required for those diminishing needs?

We are in Asia to hold onto the remaining power we gained in WWII, yet China’s political and economic alliances have usurped the protective military measures that once bound the East to America. As China gains economic strength and pressures our commodity and trading relationships, protection of shipping lanes from our major trading partners to the United States will become a critical priority. That priority will likely require, however, a different mix of bases than we currently operate. As we develop a stronger military corridor, in the interim, U.S. interests in South East Asia will be well defended by its allies Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

While the East Asian region may benefit just as South Korea is now by keeping America as a counterbalance to any potential future China aggression, East Asia will certainly not allow the United States military to pursue any containment policy aimed at slowing China’s growth. America therefore needs to rethink its military role going forward in Asia with an eye on protecting our transplanted manufacturing that is vital to our economic and national security. However, the massive post war forward base mentality that is draining America’s military budget while no longer achieving earlier vital objectives is not in our nation’s best interest.

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Is It Time to Rethink Our Military Foreign Base Strategy?

Empires have historically extended military reach to extract value from other countries. At the height of its power in 117 AD, Rome maintained 37 foreign military bases within its extended empire. Great Britain had 36 such major bases at its zenith in 1898, quartering troops in major cities of its colonies, the likes of which incited America to revolution. The United States now maintains 37 major bases, similar to other historical empires.

However, America’s military dominance extends well beyond its major bases, or any empire in history. With a military budget of over $1.4 trillion a year, the United States spends twice the budget of all other nations combined, supporting 1,200 bases on foreign soil, controlling 95 percent of the world’s foreign military bases at a cost of $120 billion a year (Not including Iraq and Afghanistan). Our military has grown staggeringly to consume the majority of America’s tax dollars, supporting:
• 2.5 million military personnel
• 800,000 civil service and private hires
• Deployments in 135 countries with bases in 63 countries valued at $700 billion
• 865 foreign bases (Not including 200 in Afghanistan and Iraq, and perhaps an additional 200 unlisted sites)
• 4,400 domestic U.S. military sites
• 22 million acres of owned land and an additional 10 million of leased land
• 845,000 owned buildings

Yet our foreign bases concentrate on outdated strategies of antique wars (735 out of 865 bases) rather than transferring and transforming to future strategic security needs:
• 289 Germany
• 230 Europe (Including 30 NATO, Not Including Germany)
• 129 Japan
• 117 South Korea
• 48 Middle East (Not counting Iraq and Afghanistan)
• 16 strategic supply Islands
• 15 South and Central America
• 6 East Asia (not Including S. Korea and Japan)
• 2 Africa
• 1 Australia

We have built amenities to support our foreign bases such as 230 military golf courses yet have established wasteful and unclear military goals for our foreign bases. As an example, about 200 bases were built in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of the $2.4 billion was spent building a dozen bases that originally were intended to continue America’s history of establishing outposts in defeated lands. In addition to airports and fortifications, we built 25-meter swimming pools, football and softball fields, full-service gyms, squash courts, and movie theaters. Now, we are preparing to turn these bases over to Iraqis who have shown a propensity to gut and loot our bases only hours after our departure.

If America’s military strategy is to protect the American people, then its foreign base budget is overtly out of line with its mission, and has misplaced priorities outside our national interest. If it is to tamp down on past international aggressors, their American allegiance can in no way justify our current base expenditures. If it our strategy is to continue our pre-globalization era colonization strategies of projecting gunboat diplomacy to control the world’s commodities, it has already been encircled by China’s alternative worldwide strategy of commodity collaboration. If it is to secure our significant share of the world’s energy resources, our unintended destruction of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency is quickly destroying any military control of oil and gas options except for conquest and occupation.

Continuance of our fixed base strategy has outlived Russia’s dominance, sourly witnessed North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear circumvention, and now faces a Chinese military buildup that will technologically outmaneuver our aging fleets. America cannot be bludgeoned by our political system that continues to waste precious military expenditures on outdated military structures at the expense of a national strategy to propel us much more cost effectively into a more militarily secure future that stresses agility as opposed to foreign fortresses.

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From 30,000 Feet, We Cannot see the Devastation to Lives of Dresden Much Less the Humanity Harmed by Our Financial Crisis

Of the levers that are shifting world economies, the inability of the United States to deal effectively and equitably with it’s housing debt has placed ot squarely beside Japan as two of the 99 bottles of beer on the world’s economic wall that have been taken down and passed around toward obscurity. In the process, countless lives are being recklessly ruined so permit me an emotional outburst in the lull…

At 30,000 feet for those that could (which part of humanity could?) the bombing of Dresden must have appeared a fantastic spectacle of firey light. For most of the men who dropped 700,000 phosphorous bombs on this refugee city, however, they recognized on a deep guttural level the horror of the firestorm below. Official allied estimates put the deaths at 20,000 but some say the number of civilians who perished were as high as a half a million.

The shifting economies of Europe that precipitated WWI, war reparations, the Weimar Republic’s hyperinflation, Germany’s clinging to their answer in a swell of grotesque human behavior and the Allies equally inhumane defense, eventually led to the decision to place thousands of innocents in fourteen hours of 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit of hell. Humans are indeed capable of the greatest of grievances.

By comparison, our country’s inhumane, imprudent, and rash whitewashing of a banking scheme to engorge America through her addiction for debt that placed ten million homes in foreclosure, six million individuals in bankruptcy, countless homeless, mentally and emotionally scarred, and millions more innocents impacted by the destruction of their loved one’s self worth, well from 30,000 feet to the casual observer, it may not have even appeared as a smoldering ember.

Yet, the damage that is being done at ground level from this foolish foray of financial protectionism will harm the psyches of our children and grandchildren for generations. The children of the depression were entrepreneurially and socially scarred. The children of the Great Recession of 2008 are scarring now. We can look at each one of the millions currently being affected and dissect her personal situation as to whether she should or should not lose her home, but in the firestorm, hers is but one small voice in the roar that call for us to rise up as a people and recognize that economic tsunamis must inspire the better nature of humanity.

We can approach this time much differently than the financial cannabalism before us. Millions needn’t lose their homes because of artificially high valuations. Banks that are needed in our communities shouldn’t be gutted leaving us without the necessary financial tools of a free society. False profits that we thought were real shouldn’t keep our economy from recovery for want of equitable unwinding.

Roll the excessive debt into shared equity, give affected parties an option on a low probability potential at housing price recovery and let our nation move on. Our choices, our brothers, our nation…

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Filed under Job Voucher Plan, Social Media Democracy, social trajectory, War

20th Century War at 30,000 Feet

At the thirty thousand foot level, the drudgery of details melds into perpendicular lines and patches of colors. From high above, they tend to be mere fuzzy perturbations of major themes. Peering down on the impact of empires from this height negates the individual horrors of war. From so far above, it is easy to see the stodgy balance of war deaths from before and after the greatest war. Both before and after 1945, 80 million people died from battle and collateral damage.

With over 160 million people succumbing to the evils of war in the 20th century, it was the deadliest century of war. Of its major 120 wars, the bloodiest was WWII with 55 million souls lost. The largest losses of the 20th century occurred in China whose citizens endured 60 million deaths, the greatest of which were self inflicted, estimated at 38 million deaths during Mao’s great leap forward during the years of 1958 to 1961.

After WWII, the U.S., determined to subdue the evils of mankind, built the most powerful armed force ever known and fashioned it across the continents to support allies, to defend democracy, and to protect its national interests. Throughout the latter part of the twentieth century America asserted her dominance on average more than once annually to support American interests. However, her influence did not diminish war across the world.

Of the 120 major wars, 90 began after America’s build up of utmost power. Of these, the first formed from the frictions of decolonization. A few involved America’s support of anticommunist forces, and later entry into the Middle East. Others were in response of Israel’s resettlement. However, the vast majority of wars were fought internally by factions within countries started over religious, ethnic, political, or financial differences.

To be sure, the modern hegemonist America has been responsible for destruction of lives post WWII, upwards of two million souls. Because many countries have suffered from America’s force, the relative restraint of this modern empire compared to all others in history has been lost in the animosity felt toward its aggression. When her time is long past, America will have been judged to have wielded the largest of sticks but having swung it lightly, at least from thirty thousand feet up.

Yet, when we drop down from the heavens and witness the destruction to families and the devastation of communities and nations, we realize the lasting scars of these seemingly impossibly large statistics of war. Mankind is flawed, and our differences carry forward into the next generations. History repeats itself.

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In 2012, America Must Elect a Turn-Around Specialist

America must conquer real threats if we are to reverse the inevitable slide into the annals of ancient empires following the downward slope from England to Rome. If we fail to overcome our formidable obstacles, historians will dissect America’s recent political machinations and federal budgets to interpret why we failed to reverse course as we battled our decline. My guess is that our descendents will wonder how America ever became so transfixed on military and healthcare.

Fear has driven America to the brink. To escape the jaws of death, we have become obsessed with healthcare, spending twice what the rest of the industrialized world spends and more than the incomes of most people in the world. Half of our health care budget is desperately spent in the last six months of our lives. America’s combined federal medical expenses of Medicare and Medicaid exceed $740 billion dollars annually.

To ensure that no 20th century military will ever rise up against us, America’s military budget has grown larger than all other countries on the planet combined. we expend $1.4 trillion dollars (shocking) annually including the DoD budget ($653 billion), military budgets of other departments such as NASA ($153 billion), the war on terror ($162 billion), current wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya ($200 billion) plus $484 billion of carrying costs from past military spending. Ironically, our obsessively growing military budget may prove the old saying that pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.

Since our civil war, no battles have been fought in America and 2,977 American lives were lost to foreign terrorists. 9/11 exposed our vulnerability to terrorism, but we lose more Americans to deadly American-on-American violence in two months than we have lost to terrorism and foreign invasion in 150 years. The odds that you will be murdered are about 1 in 200 in your lifetime, and considerably worse if you live in a city. 16,000 Americans are murdered and 1.5 million are victims of violent crimes every year. Our real threat of internal violence has grown to overwhelm our potential threat of external violence, yet America continues to spend $1.4 trillion dollars annually against potential foreign invaders and only $150 billion dollars on police, federal enforcement and prisons combined.

So we spend a combined $2.2 trillion dollars to protect ourselves from the perceived threats of foreign invasion and from dying 180 days before our time. $2.2 trillion dollars is 100 % (ONE HUNDRED PERCENT!) of federal revenues collected in taxes from the American people. To pay for our obsessions, all other services and interest on the debt are paid for with borrowed money. How have we let our fears overtake reason and push America to the binge spending brink of what may be coined by historians as America’s Greatest Depression?

Rather than crowd out our budget with perceived threats, America must assess our greatest threats and opportunities going forward and they must then be supported by our budget. Our debt has unfortunately been allowed to bubble into a historic crisis that could threaten to pull the world’s reserve currency into hyperinflation, so it has become our most urgent threat. Yet as our political leadership chooses to gamble with the debt ceiling, they have placed military and healthcare costs that consume 100 percent of our federal taxes in protected fortresses of untouchable expenditures. With this display of political bravado, they have boxed the impossible solutions of either eliminating the rest of government or raising taxes to a level that would plunge America into an austerity led depression.

The fable being spun inside Washington’s beltway is that minimal cuts can be made from military and healthcare as Congress and the President fight hand-to-hand combat to eliminate their political opponents’ favored programs. Are we to believe that America can turn around its deadly retreat with the table scraps given to us by our military and healthcare industry? Our political leadership continues to misread their vital mission of the people’s work. America knows it is not elimination of political opponents’ pet projects that will right our course but it is the charting of the true north of America’s best opportunities that must be protected by our budget.

In business, companies that present such insolvent balance and P&L sheets as exist in America’s federal budget, are subjected to the rigors of the turn-around specialist. All budget items no matter how large or small are prioritized as to their future value for the company and those below the expected revenue line are slashed. We must now subject our country to this difficult rigor that can best be accomplished with consensus of the American people.

The secret of the turn-around specialist’s success is that they know their employees will have been subjected to the harsh realities of drastic budget alignments and will end up hating the turn-around specialist as much as they love what he did for the company. The specialist knows when their vital work is done that they must leave the company to find the next financial disaster to correct.

The turn-around specialist work that America must endure is not for the weak of heart and will be distasteful to politicians that wish to be elected next term. But it must be done. The men or women, including those running for President, that stand up before the American people stating they will do the hard work, pledging only one term, are perhaps the only ones capable of getting the job done.

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Filed under American Governance, American Politics, Federal Budget, Healthcare costs, U.S. Tax Policy, War