Does the US Have an Economy Based on War?

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The United States seemingly has endless wars, conflicts, and invasions. In 2010 the United States accounted for a staggering 41% of worldwide military spending, dwarfing spending by any other country. We have military bases in dozens of countries and spend at least 20% of our entire budget on defense. If you add in indirect costs like medical care for injured veterans (which will continue for decades) and programs like the CIA drones, then the real cost is no doubt much higher. And excuse me, but inquiring minds want to know, just why is the CIA permitted to have its own little wars complete with drones and how many other agencies are doing the same thing? It all seems a bit crazy and out of control.

Perhaps we are addicted to war. Oh, they’re not called wars much anymore, not since repeated presidents of both parties for decades have been sending in the military without permission of Congress. So, they’re usually called something else, like “peacekeeping missions” or “humanitarian interventions.” But someone whose house just got blown up by a CIA drone probably doesn’t much care what we call it. For him, it’s a war.

The war in Afghanistan is going badly indeed. There’s a reason that country is called the “graveyard of empires.” While most US troops are out of Iraq, our mercenaries aren’t. We’ve simply privatized the war. The US is conducting air strikes in Yemen, there are US “ advisers” in several African countries, and it’s clear that some factions in the military badly want to bomb Iran.

The result of most of these military actions has been, inadvertently or not, to destabilize countries and regions, something which is not in our long-term interest. All of this has been going on since long before the devastating and horrible events of 9/11. We lurch from conflict to conflict, leaving troops and bases behind wherever we go.

For a while, it seemed like the early demonstrations against the Iraq were having an effect. Millions turned out in the streets across the planet to protest. Our governments are  tone-deaf and deliberately ignore public sentiment, which is now strongly against military interventions, because the wars of course continued. Trying to work within the two-party system to end the wars is futile. We need independent movements and voting blocs that can bring real pressure upon our government to end the wars.