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Editorial: Too much militarism

America is, by far, the most militaristic nation on Planet Earth. U.S. taxpayers shell out around $1 trillion per year for the war machine, counting long-term veteran costs, plus interest on past arms spending done with borrowed money and other off-budget expenses.This incredible outlay outstrips any other country -- almost equaling the entire rest of the world combined.Yet the spending is mostly unneeded, because war between nations has vanished in the 21st century. Today's only enemies are hidden terrorist cells and a few rebel militias. Large U.S. armies, navies, air forces and intercontinental missiles are useless against them. All that's required are commando teams and killer drones -- plus a few battalions for U.N. peacekeeper missions in countries wracked by civil wars.President Obama ended the pointless, senseless Iraq war launched by the Bush-Cheney White House on false premises. Now he is ending the second Bush-Cheney war in Afghanistan, America's longest. Soon, America will be war-free.U.S. taxpayers could save vast sums -- and America still would be well-defended -- if this country's militarism were downsized drastically. This week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel took a modest step in that direction by proposing to cut the Army from its current 528,000 to under 450,000.
Immediately, conservative "hawks" complained. Former Vice President Dick Cheney said the reduction will cause "enormous long-term damage to our military." Since Cheney no longer is in position to start more needless wars, the downsizing won't affect him personally.Of course, Congress members will howl if weapons factories or bases in their districts are threatened. But, in the long run, America will benefit if gigantic military costs are reduced.In London's Guardian, analyst Michael Cohen wrote that, despite Hagel's proposed cuts, the Pentagon "is able to maintain a bloated and extravagant military force even when the United States faces no actual security threats."He pointed out that, during World War II, an average of 27,000 people were killed every day -- but now, battle deaths around the world are barely more than 100 per day. Communism, Nazism and most dictatorships have disappeared. Yet America keeps a huge military based on the horrors of yesteryear.We think a reduction in militarism would benefit America immensely.
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