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I actually agree with Leo that we have too many foreign bases

  • Published in Letters

To the editor,

Leo Sandy’s April 10 column — “America’s 4 Fundamentalisms” — offers the professor’s standard assortment of far left criticisms of United State’s social structure. However, I have to admit I agree with him about one of his observations.

Sandy points out that we currently have 725 military bases on foreign soil. An analysis would likely reveal that some of those bases may be necessary for defense of the home land; ...

To the editor,

Leo Sandy’s April 10 column — “America’s 4 Fundamentalisms” — offers the professor’s standard assortment of far left criticisms of United State’s social structure. However, I have to admit I agree with him about one of his observations.

Sandy points out that we currently have 725 military bases on foreign soil. An analysis would likely reveal that some of those bases may be necessary for defense of the home land; however a review would also show that U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing the defense of Western Europe, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and a host of other nations with the economic capacity for their own defense.

These commitments are problematic for two principal reasons. The first is that our nation is economically bankrupt and cannot afford to be the defender of a multitude of other nations who have the capability of defending themselves, but chose to spend their revenues on other commitments. Just because South Korea is threatened by its starving northern counterpart doesn’t mean that our interests are served by going bankrupt defending them. South Korea is an immensely wealthy and resource rich nation. They clearly have the technological and human resources necessary for their own defense. The same goes for most of the other countries whose defense we currently defray. If we try to defend everything, we will weaken our ability to defend what is truly in our national interest.

The second major reason our current external defense commitments work to our disadvantage lie in the human costs associated with their execution. We have over 20,000 soldiers who have been injured in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and more that 6000 who have been killed. Those casualties offer lessons by extension concerning the potential consequences of our other alliances. Taiwan, for example, is more than capable of defending itself. It makes little sense that U.S. citizens should have to die defending it, if China decides it wishes to attack that island nation. The connection between our national interest and the defense of Taiwan has become more tenuous with the passage of time. The same logic holds true for many of our other allies and our continuing commitment to their protection. Why should we expend American lives, when the ally can neutralize the threat by vigilance on its own?

Advocates for the current overextension will talk of strategic interest, trip wires, the cost of isolation etc. Times have changed, as have threats. I am not advocating that our country surrender its capabilities, in fact I would argue that we need to spend our dollars more wisely so that we can enhance our advantages further. Instead, I am suggesting that we follow Washington’s advice and cut back our entangling commitments.

U.S. defense doctrine needs to evolve with changing conditions. The Soviets are gone, replaced by new adversaries. As with the Barbary pirates long ago, our policy needs to be clearly understood. They would tell you that if you attack the U.S. it will travel a very long distance to defend itself. Our current overextension and ill conceived policy detracts from our ability to convey that message because our dollars are being misspent along with the lives of our soldiers.

Sandy no doubt views the defense equation differently than I as his many prior columns (and his most current one) suggest that he wants to gut defense so he can milk taxpayers for the construction of a socialist utopia. In his mind, the military’s consumption of resources and our national sovereignty are unhelpful impediments that are delaying our transformation into a socially more wholesome society. Given the consistent disastrous results of socialist experiments in Russia, Nazi Germany, North Korea, Western Europe, and China, Sandy’s slavish belief that socialism will solve our problems lends credence to Orwell’s observation that it takes a very educated person to believe certain things.

Nevertheless, though we won’t agree on much else, Professor Sandy and I do agree that we have way too many bases and far too many commitments. A rare moment indeed for both of us, there’s no denying that.

Charlie Gallagher

Gilford