THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES: A WORLD CLASS MERCENARY FORCE?

 

Oregon Army National Guard, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team Soldiers from load onto a C-17 Globemaster III Aug. 13, 2013, bound for Afghanistan from Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania. The flight is one of more than 500, deploying and redeploying transportation missions, that the U.S. Army Europe's 21st Theater Sustainment Command and Air Force's 780th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron have supported since opening the transit hub in February 2014. (U.S. Army photo/Sgt. Brandon Hubbard -- from here)
Oregon Army National Guard, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team Soldiers from load onto a C-17 Globemaster III Aug. 13, 2013, bound for Afghanistan from Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania. The flight is one of more than 500, deploying and redeploying transportation missions, that the U.S. Army Europe’s 21st Theater Sustainment Command and Air Force’s 780th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron have supported since opening the transit hub in February 2014. (U.S. Army photo/Sgt. Brandon Hubbard — from here)

Part One Of A Book Report

I have read about half of Donald Trump’s book, Crippled America: How To Make America Great Again. Thus far, I have gotten through Chapter 5, which is about our failing education system. However, this post is mostly about Chapter 4, “Foreign Policy: Fighting for Peace.”

I did not especially like what I saw in Chapter 4. What concerns me is Trump’s determination to get the “best deal.”

There is another way to pay to modernize our military forces. If other countries are depending upon us to protect them, shouldn’t they be willing to make sure we have the capability to do it? Shouldn’t they be willing to pay for the servicemen and servicewomen and the equipment we’re providing?

Depending upon the price of oil, Saudi Arabia earns somewhere between half a billion and a billion dollars every day. They wouldn’t exist, let alone have that wealth, without our protection. We get nothing from them. Nothing.

It’s time to change all that. It’s time to win again.

We’ve got 28,500 wonderful American soldiers on South Korea’s border with North Korea. They’re in harm’s way every single day. They’re the only thing that is protecting South Korea. And what do we get from South Korea for it? They sell us products — at a nice profit. They compete with us.

What Trump is suggesting is that if we are going to be the world’s policeman, the world ought to pay us. That’s a very bad idea. Do we really want our soldiers to be mercenaries?

Because they are just human beings like us, our allies will never be perfect. Therefore, when we station troops in another country or come to the defense of another nation, we must set aside our prejudices. We must objectively consider what is in our own nation’s best interests. Did Donald Trump? No.

An Aside On Immigration Policy

What is it that blinds Trump? Is he blind? I don’t know. I just see a pattern developing, and it is about silly things. Before we continue, let’s briefly consider another example, from Chapter 3, “Immigration: Good Walls Make Good Neighbors.” Trump wants Mexico to pay for the wall. Why would we want Mexicans to pay for the wall? To screw them? Because their leaders have encouraged their poor and their troublemakers to go north? That’s laughable!

Our problem is that our politicians won’t enforce our immigration laws. That is our fault, not Mexico’s, but Trump does not want to pay the bill. He refuses to admit we are at fault. So in addition to passing the bill for the wall to Mexico, he wants to pass the blame. Yet it is our own corrupt politicians — American politicians — who control who crosses into the United States and who stays here, not corrupt Mexican politicians.

Working With Our Allies

Trump did not even bother to consider the contributions our allies already make. He just looked at the bill and suggested someone else ought to pay.

The Unintended Consequences

As far as I can tell, Ted Cruz has not proposed a scheme to get other nations to help pay for our military forces (see American Resolve: Rebuilding America’s Military). Why not? I can only guess, but consider what would happen if other nations actually were to give us money for the use of our soldiers, regular payments for services rendered. Consider how too many of our politicians look upon money. Are they not always ravenous for more to spend?

Currently, Congress looks upon military spending as a grim necessity. From the

Strykers teams with the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regment prepare 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division armored vehicles for offloading March 18, 2015 in Poland. (from here)
Strykers teams with the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regment prepare 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division armored vehicles for offloading March 18, 2015 in Poland. (from here)

perspective of corrupt politicians, military spending doesn’t have much bang for the buck. That is, there are much more efficient ways to buy votes However, if other nations suddenly realize they can pay for the use of the world’s finest…..

When so many of our leaders already believe they exist just to spend other people’s money and as much money as they can spend, do we really want to let them use our nation’s armed forces as an excuse to solicit funds from other nations?

The Grim Necessity Of War

The United States Armed Forces exist to protect the vital interests of the United States. That is, military service is supposed to be about duty, honor, and country.  Hence when we station our military forces in another nation, we should be doing so only for these three reasons:

  • Duty. We have may a valid commitment. We have a moral or legal obligation that requires our forces to be in that nation.
  • Honor. In addition to treaty obligations, there are crimes and atrocities we cannot honorably ignore. When we have the capacity to stop a mass murder, we should seriously consider doing so.
  • Country. Few Americans long to be stationed for years, especially to fight, in faraway lands. Yet our soldiers volunteer to do so. They know it is far better to fight in a faraway land than it is to watch their own people suffer in their own country.

So what is the true cost of our armed forces? Is it money? No. We must always keep at the forefront of our minds what our nation’s soldiers have signed up to do, risk life and limb for us.  Therefore, when we deploy our armed forces, we should always remember it is not about money.  It is about duty. It is about honor. It is about country. It is about our friends and neighbors going into harm’s way for our sakes.

 

130320-N-TG831-099 WATERS TO THE WEST OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA (March 20, 2013) The Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Rainier (T-AOE-7), left, performs a replenishment-at-sea with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85). McCampbell is part of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, and is underway to conduct exercise Foal Eagle 2013 with allied nation Republic of Korea in support of regional security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Declan Barnes/Released)
130320-N-TG831-099
WATERS TO THE WEST OF THE KOREAN
PENINSULA (March 20, 2013) The Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Rainier (T-AOE-7), left, performs a replenishment-at-sea with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85). McCampbell is part of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, and is underway to conduct exercise Foal Eagle 2013 with allied nation Republic of Korea in support of regional security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Declan Barnes/Released) (from here)

43 thoughts on “THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES: A WORLD CLASS MERCENARY FORCE?

  1. Your last comment, while containing some generalities I agree with about the deficit, leaves me a bit puzzled, especially the last paragraph. “We have this huge deficit, yet interest rates are low, near zero. So the economy is creeping.”

    Is the economy “creeping” because interest rates are low (that seems counterintuitive) or because we have huge deficits, or because of the interaction of these two conditions?

    Would not high rates of inflation be more encouraging of debt financing than low rates? In a high inflation environment, one borrows dear and pay off cheap.

    Because interest rates are historically low, some argue that we are losing (and have lost, because we are probably nearing the end of a long period of these remarkably low rates) a major opportunity to address our massive, growth constricting problem of failing national infrastructure. The financing and direct costs are likely to be lower now than in the future.

    Like

    1. @novascout

      I don’t qualify as an economist, but I have given the matter some thought. Moreover, our economy has become such a weird mess it would interesting to hear what others think. So I suppose I will do a post.

      Like

  2. Cutting taxes in hope it will increase US exports is a myth. US workers cannot and never will be able to compete with a labor intensive product made by a trade partner who pays their workers $200 a month when a US worker has to pay #800 a month in rent alone in the US.

    Check out my series of posts on Unfair Trade if your are interested.

    https://rudymartinka.wordpress.com/?s=fair+trade

    Regard and goodwill blogging.

    PS I agree we should know where and how military expenditures will bs used before we vote. If we had a war tax in Iraq, US involvement would have ended in the first term of Bush, in my opinion..

    Like

    1. @scatterwisdom

      You are comparing apples with oranges.

      What labor is worth depends upon the demand for the work and the productivity the workers. Things like scarcity of skilled workers, capital assets that increase productivity, and market access all drive that.

      The United States is a great location with a trained work force. Unskilled workers, under the direction of skilled workers, benefit if we don’t import illegal immigrants. What is killing us is our government. High taxes eat up profits and discourage capital investment. Deficits, because they require borrowing, require the government to compete in the market for capital. Stupid regulations further increase the cost of production.

      Here is something to think about. We have this huge deficit, yet interests rates are low, near zero. So the economy is creeping. Economists call it secular stagnation. Yet oddly enough, I expect our politicians like this situation. They borrow and spend with very little inflation. Were the economy to start growing, inflation would reveal the stupidity of their deficits.

      Like

  3. You make an important point, SW. Fixing on tax reduction as an end in itself is a pathway to fiscal anarchy. Fiscal conservatives look for a balance of costs and revenues in essential programs on which there is democratic political consensus. In recent times, as you suggest, sometimes the focus gets stuck on the tax side and ignores the fiscal necessity of being willing to pay for what we consume in government services. Both Cruz and Trump, to the extent they have revealed their visions for fiscal policy in their respective presidencies, have been anything but fiscally conservative, and are advocating policies that would vastly increase budget deficits and structural indebtedness. As I said up the thread, there may be more to it than either has made clear, but they had better come up with details if they do not want to fairly be tagged as tax-and-spend Rs.

    It is certainly not fiscal conservatism to advocate large scale military adventures without identifying the revenue sources to pay for these undertakings (as the Bush Administration did in Iraq) or to argue for significant upgrading and modernization of our defense capabilities without putting before the voters the price tag and the revenue sources that will be used to finance those improvements (as Trump, Cruz, and, to an extent Clinton have been doing). To be clear, I believe the candidates for President in 2016 should squarely address the substantial investments that much be made in the Defense commitment in order to address a multi-polar world where there are two strong military adversaries and several lesser threats that could, if not carefully managed and controlled, do us great harm.

    However, on the corporate tax, my own view, one shared by a pretty eclectic cross-section of political economists and knowledgeable tax experts, is that our corporate tax is simply out of synch with global norms. Corporate taxes are inherently suspect to begin with, because they tax revenues at the corporate level that are taxed again on distributions in the form of dividends, salaries and wages. Of course, Congress in its wisdom and/or venality, has created such complexity in the application of these taxes that the effective rates for many large companies are much lower than the nominal rate – the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. This imbalance leads to forum-shopping on tax situs. The corporate tax doesn’t need to be reduced as simply a goal to reduce taxes, it needs to be reduced to eliminate tax burden discrepancies that lead to economic distortions domestically and internationally. If done, it has to be done in a way that is deficit neutral, both in terms of annual federal budgets and in terms of long-term debt.

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