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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

I MOSTLY AGREE WITH DONALD TRUMP ON ONE MATTER

Let me first state that I absolutely don't side with Donald Trump on 99% of what he says.  However, he has indicated that we should not be paying for stationing our military troops in foreign countries.  I definitely agree with this feeling, but at the same time state that we should not totally abandon our foothold in many of these areas, just cut boots on the ground by 90%.  About that graphic to the left, I searched for something positive about the Donald in the military, but this is the only one I could find.

The Los Angeles Times just berated Donald Trump for exaggerating the truth on this matter.  They indicated that Japan pays $2 billion/year.  However, this sum mostly goes for building infrastructure, which can be used by the country after we leave, and wages to Japanese workers  on the bases.  However, this agreement ended earlier this year and there are signs that any local input will be drastically reduced (they are pleading that their economy is metastable--yes, true...and all current signs are that we will back down, and not announce it), to more closely match what other countries are doing in Europe and elsewhere...which is paltry.

The publication FP (Foreign Policy), which comes out every two months, was founded by Samuel Huntington (who wrote The Clash of Civilizations), and in 2008 was purchased by The Washington Post Company.  I site this link because FP is not a publication dictated to by the military-industrial complex.  Earlier this year FP had an article entitled, Donald Trump Doesn't Understand the Value of U.S. Bases Overseas.  While FP's primary issue point had more to do with their concern about Trump's attitude on overseas alliances, it is also clear that here is a credible journal advocating maintaining a significant forward military presence, even if it does cost us a lot of money.

Part of FP's logic is flawed.  For one, they underscore, if we return the 114,000 personnel to America, then the states would need to absorb most of the costs.  How dumb is that?  The U.S. has 1.3 million in uniform, with 800,000 in reserve.  


We simply, as they return home, reduce the 1.3 million to 1.1866 million.  Interesting to note that while the military percentage of our population has slightly dropped since the end of the Cold War, our defense (I call it war) budget as percentage of GDP has gone up.  There is no Soviet Union anymore, China has no interest in invading us and there are only a few seriously dangerous terrorists.

For reasons that befuddle me, most Americans feel comfortable having the largest military as possible, even though we have no major enemy anymore.  Said President Barack Obama earlier this year:

"I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker," Obama said in his last annual State of the Union address Jan. 12, 2016. "Let me tell you something: The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. Period. It’s not even close. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined."

Turns out we spend more than the next seven nations, combined.  The number was eight in 2014.  About military spending as a % of GDP, with the trend over the past few years:

   USA                    3.3    slightly dropping
   China                  2.0    slightly dropping
   Saudi Arabia     13.5    steady
   Russia                 5.0    steady
   UK                       1.9    dropping
   India                    2.4    dropping
   France                 2.1    dropping
   Japan                  1.0    increasing
   Germany             1.2    dropping

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Japan is doing a profoundly dumb thing by increasing its defense budget.  With Germany, after World War II, their application of tax funds to improving their economy instead of for war armaments/personnel had a lot to do with their economic success today.

At least there has been a reduction of nuclear stockpiles:



We won the Second World War, and still have 54,000 in Germany and 32,800 in Japan, and the Korean War, with 28,500 still there.  We LOST the Vietnam War and have ZERO troops in that country.

In fact, we should bring all (I've changed my mind--what about 90%?) of our troops back:

  Libya                 8,500 
  Djibouti             3,500 (what, Djibouti??)
  South Korea    28,500
  Japan              32,800
  Germany         54,000
  Italy                 10,000
  UK                  10,000
  Qatar                8,000
  Kuwait            10,500

and 35 other countries.  Bring them all (I now say 90%) home.  In 2005, the cost per military person was as high as $175,000.  This all adds up to around $50 billion/year (or $60 billion today).

Five years later, or today, 52,060 in Japan, 36,691 in Germany and 24,899.  Yes, a drop, but only of 1650.  I should add that to many of those numbers above, double it to appreciate the number of dependents and civilian staff, all at U.S. government (our taxes) expense.

In 2012, in my posting on Bring Our Boys and Girls Home, I indicated:
  • We have 716 military bases abroad.  Yes, SEVEN HUNDRED SIXTEEN!!!
  • They are in 110 countries.
Further:

Entitled "Standing Army," this 74-minute movie is playing in English at Image Forum in Tokyo through May 11. It has won several international awards.  I never heard of it until now.  Is there a Military-Industrial Complex conspiracy to keep this Italian film out of the U.S.?  Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal and Chalmers Johnson play roles in this documentary.  Johnson (who recently passed away), remarked:

...the bases have come to be the "unit" for the postwar American empire, just as colonies used to be unit for European nations' empires.  

Vidal said that perpetual war for perpetual peace is the American Dream.

Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 67% rating, but reports there are no movie reviews?  Hmmm....   Here is a film clip.  And another.

Wait a minute, it was only 110 countries in 2012.  I also said:

The Cold War ended 23 years ago.  Symbolic presence, okay.  But technology can replace boots on the ground.

Finally, last year The Nation pointed out:
  • The United States probably has more foreign military bases than any other people, nation or empire in history.
  • There are no foreign bases in the USA.
  • There are around 800 U.S. bases overseas.  (This up from the 716 four years ago.)
  • They cost us $156 billion/year.
  • "Rarely does anyone wonder how we would feel if China, Russia or Iran built even a single base anywhere near our borders..."
  • The military runs more than 170 golf courses in foreign countries!!!
I should underscore that The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the U.S., and is the most widely read weekly journal of progressive political and cultural news, opinion and analysis.

So, yes, Donald Trump has a point, in agreement with Barack Obama...and me:

Here’s a sentence you probably never expected to read. Donald Trump and Barack Obama broadly agree on something: America can no longer afford to police the world on behalf of its allies.

This is a quote from The Telegraph earlier this year.
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According to one source, Super Typhoon Chaba, now with gusts up to 233 miles/hour, is the strongest storm in history for the region.  However, another source indicated that the island of Kumejima was buffeted by 134 MPH winds, and Chaba is weakening as the path shows considerable rain for southern Korea, then on to northern Honshu:


No reports of major casualties or damage...yet...but Okinawa is well-prepared to withstand even super typhoons.

In the Caribbean, Typhoon Matthew is at 145 MPH and is still expected to make landfall over the Carolinas early Saturday morning:


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