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Bring The Troops Home (All Of Them)

What would happen if we drastically shrunk the U.S. military’s overseas footprint? There’s a growing chorus of voices calling for troops to come home from Afghanistan. What if we went further?

Spc. Charles Moore and Spc Andrew Vanderhaeghen return fire upon a sudden attack by Taliban on Combat Outpost Badel in  Afghanistan near Pakistan border. What if all the troops came home? (AP)

Spc. Charles Moore and Spc Andrew Vanderhaeghen return fire upon a sudden attack by Taliban on Combat Outpost Badel in Afghanistan near Pakistan border. What if all the troops came home? (AP)

Any day now, we will hear how many troops the Obama administration plans to draw down in Afghanistan.

The turnaround of President Obama’s surge.

But with a huge spotlight on American federal spending and deficits lately, the “bring ‘em home” impulse is at work well beyond Afghanistan these days. American military spending is massive.

So is American debt. Could we, should we bring the troops home from Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany, Japan, more? Should we have a new and lower global military profile?

This hour On Point: the military we can afford.

- Tom Ashbrook


Guests:

Stephen Walt is the Robert and Rene Belfer professor of International Relations at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He also writes the “Realist in an Ideological Age” blog at Foreign Policy magazine.

Christopher Preble, is the director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, and has written often about defense cuts. He was also a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy, and served on the USS Ticonderoga.

Rachel Kleinfeld is the co-founder and CEO of the Truman National Security Project.

Tom’s Reading List:

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  • American Exceptionalism

    There always has to be a nation willing to enforce it’s will on all the others. And we’re always right and we know it.. Anyone who doubts this is a terrorist.If W administration had not gone through all the trouble of concocting reasons to attack Iraq, we would never have been able to create all the terrorists we have over there, because it’s a fact there were no terrorists before we invaded. And of course anyone who dared to resist our occupation is a terrorist certainly worthy of torture. Without all those terrorists how could we justify spending 100 bil + a month on what Eisenhower deemed “military industrial complex“. Although as in many other corporate entities, most of this money is funneled to very few at top, still there are a lot of American jobs in that complex. Civilians that die for high crime of being in wrong place at wrong time – you have to break some eggs for an omelet- most of’em are godless Arabs anyway.We also rely on selling our weapons to many other markets. Have to keep stoking the fires- It’s the American way.

  • alan/London

    The US is a superpower whether the US population like it or not, they are a powerful country but the trick is to know when to use hard versus soft power. Sadly, any empire’s elite is going to get decadent, corrupt, nepotistic and frankly impotent (the Bush years)  

    The US has the largest military industry in the world and the largest military, an incredible amount of firepower but doe snot mean they can deal with a US$10 roadside bomb, instead of spending 25% of its GNP on the military, how about 10% with a leaner military, for example, there are untold US military jets in Washington state, just in case, in case of what? I suppose the Republicans are terrified of those pesky, secular, liberal Canadians! 

    • Anonymous

      @8d08dafd471418bc4107c0ec633567c9:disqus With a GDP pf over $13 Trillion, a Federal Budget of $3.8 Trillion and a Defense Department budget of $928 Billion, your 25% number applies to the Federal budget, not the Gross Domestic Product.

      While the defense department spending certainly needs to come down, returning to the $400 to $500 Billion budgets of the past will cut the federal budget by no more than 15%; substantial, but not near the numbers that Republicans want to cut spending by.

  • Chuck Psimer, Columbia, SC

    I think it’s becoming difficult for the average citizen to understand why we have a military presence in many areas.  Regarding Afghanistan: is it possible the 100,000+ troops there have nothing to do with that country?  Maybe the primary mission of those troops is to maintain a ready-state as a rapid deploy force to enter Pakistan and take control of its nuclear arsenal in the event it loses control of those weapons.  I can’t see any other reason for them being there….

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Chuck,   Don’t forget the $Trillions in natural resources, that were made public last year.   Don’t be surprised to find out that certain companies (Halliburton, probably, and its ilk) knew years, or decades ago.  The heroin trade has been there for decades, or centuries.  Organized crime has known, and dealt with it for decades.  Could they have not found out about the other riches to plunder, with the U.S. millitary tacitly backing them?   Few, if any companies are honorable enough to pay owners of resources a reasonable amount, reap those resources in an ecological, and civil manner, and restore the land they mess up.  The executives couldn’t buy ever-more-expensive-baubles of status. 

  • http://freeourfreemarkets.org Steve Banicki

    On August 1, this blog stated:

    On August 10, 2010 I said:

    “We are in the midst of a Great Recession that could have been a depression. The net worth of all Americans were affected negatively, as has their optimism and willingness to go on spending binges as they have over the last several decades. Controlling the binge is a good thing; however, it means that we must find another engine for our growth rather than the American consumer. The good news is there is a new engine, and an established one, that will drive us to prosperity again.

    The new engine is exports. The rest of the world is rushing to catch up to our life style and wealth. They want to consume and someone is going to fill their desire. People throughout the world are looking to increase their consumption of goods and services. If we do not meet this demand there are other nations clawing to fill their needs. These consumers are in China, Iran, Southeast Asia, India, Pakistan, Eastern Europe, South and Central America, Africa and the list goes on and on and on……”
    Exports will only work if there is indeed free trade with the rest of the world. Nothing has changed.  Read More:  http://goo.gl/QA0YO

    • Anonymous

      @sbanicki:disqus One of the “easiest” ways to grow the export market is a lower dollar value, toward which there has been movement. But Republicans thunder against that as if it would make a difference to most Americans. While it would make imports more expensive, it will create jobs here in the U.S. It will also make investments abroad more expensive, helping to make the rich who have profited most from the growth and low taxes here to keep that money here where it will help growth of the U.S. economy, rather than foreign economies. American goods are still perceived widely as of good quality due to our regulations which help prevent a “race to the bottom.”

      China is today experiencing rising inflation, a direct result of their trying to hold down the value of the renminbi. It is like squeezing a balloon, as you reduce one dimension, the balloon bulges in other places. The Chinese have made a few tentative moves toward letting the value of the renminbi rise, and they will be forced to do more as their other measures to “control” interest rates, etc., fail to accomplish their goal or create other damaging side effects.

      • http://freeourfreemarkets.org Steve Banicki

        Don 81

        You have many good points. I  am a free market conservative. I voted republican in every presidential election since 1968, except one. It is obvious that our government must live within its means and do so in a manner as not to interfere with a functioning free market economy. If we desire to take control of government, we must demand government carry out one of its primary functions; protecting free markets from tyranny, both public and private. We are vocal about defending it from public tyranny, but silent when it comes to tyranny in the private sector.
        “Experience should teach us to be most on guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficial. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greater dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.” Justice Louis Brandeis 1928 
        Today our focus seems to be only on the tyranny of government when it comes to free markets. We need to find the right balance. Read More: http://www.freeourfreemarkets.org/2011/06/what-is-free-market-conservative-to-do.html#more
         
         

  • guest

    Can you explain the logistics of how the return occurs? I am wondering what will occur when so many troops return only to find there are no jobs for them? Are they garunteed jobs or health coverage for themselves and their families? Won’t they feel bitter after having served to just get thrown into the unemployement predicament? Can they remain in the service or are they cut loose as budget cuts shrink in military spending? What does it mean when competitive countries like China are growing their armed forces when we are shrinking ours? Should I care?

    • Cory

      Why no name, “guest”?

      • guest

        just easy i guess….AC

  • Shannon

    One of my loopy fantasies: we bring home ALL our boys and girls, and charge them with updating and maintaining our dilapidated infrastructure. Crazy, I know.

    • guest

      most laborer, carpenters, electricians and iron workers I know out of work, also served at one time. who will get precedence?

  • BMaher

    Oh no! If we stop running around the world as the imperial police force, someone might call us isolationists! Oh, the horror! I’m losing my breath! Please don’t use the “I” word!
    But then again, the founders warned us against being the socialist do-gooders, advising full restraint from involvement in foreign wars–but that’s just such old thinking by those former old fogieTea-party’ers’, no? Also, now that we force people at gunpoint to buy government health insurance, and prop up sickenly incompetent corporations like GM, maybe it might not be a such a good idea to run around the world to “nation build” in the name of our so-called freedom-loving creed. By the way, how is Paul Krugman’s stimulus philosophy working in Greece? I’m sure the founders would worship such a “sophisticated” man as Mr. Krugman, no? Could the word “stimulus” be the most discredited term–in both houses of Congress?

    • ThresherK

      socialist do-gooders

      You’ve passed the Reality Event Horizon. No point trying to explain anything to you.

    • Anonymous

      @b022f986d709fc9a44f698938e3cbcec:disqus And just where do you get the idea that Greece’s problem is due to “stimulus?” Greece’s problem comes from, among other things, the cheap money that it was able to borrow after joining the Euro. That and the Greek government hiding their deficits enabled lenders to stupidly think that Greece could not default. And Krugman was AGAINST the Euro under the idea of a common currency and no common fiscal authority. The lenders to Greece (largely France, which is why a Legarde at the IMF is to be watched) NEED to take a haircut!

      Learn your facts before spouting off with cheap (false) shots!

  • Cory

    I honestly don’t know anyone who thinks we should be in most of these places any longer.  

    My best guess is that this ubiquitos military presence around the world is ultimately about resource management.

  • Terry Tree Tree

    Reservists, and National Guard troops, never signed up for this.  Ten times the percentage of them were conscripted to combat zones and overseas deployment, than in Korea, and Vietnam.  Most of them had regular jobs, and lifestyles that were geared for being home.  Until the ‘W’ administration, that was honored, as it was the way Reservists and National Guard were recruited.  The damage done to U.S. families, and these troops, can NEVER be repaired.  The GREEDY  corporations that caused all this damage, will NEVER be brought to justice, and made to pay FULL restitution.  CRIME PAYS, if GREED controls those in power in the government!!  Ten years in Afghanistan, and seven years in Iraq, with the crimes committed by, and for those corporations, PROVE it!!!

  • Markus

    This will turn into a shell game if it hasn’t already. With increased
    pressure, our government may bring troops home only to replace them with
    contractors. A year or so ago, I saw that the number of contractors matched the
    number of troops in Iraq. And that probably didn’t include the Iraqis that
    we’re paying. So, what is the right metric to measure our involvement?

     

    BTW, is Tom Ashbrook the hardest working man in radio? I suspect that
    he and I are on opposite sides of most issues, but I am amazed at the quality
    of these daily shows.  

  • Dianne

    Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, as referenced on Tom’s reading list, ( accounting of the worlds armies ) contains worldwide military expenditure database.

    The information is stunning and sobering to say the least. Russia from approximately $296m in 1988 to $52m in 2010…spends somewhat less than the UK at $57m+ or France at $61m+. The US, at $700m compared to China at $114m+.

    At 25% of GDP…who says our government doesn’t create jobs or wealth? Depends on how you define this of course…but a lot of folks in our military have a job and some folks are making boocoo money based on the needs of the military…armaments are expensive.

    Consider the impact this spending could have in other areas, such as high tuition costs or our deteriorating infrastructure. Wonder if the young people serving in our military would consider a job rebuiding our infrastructure a good alternative job?

    Oh well…depends on what you value I guess.

     

    • guest

      same ? I put to Shannon:
      most laborer, carpenters, electricians and iron workers I know out of work, also served at one time. who will get precedence?

      • Anonymous

        “We the People” are and will continue to be taking applications.  Is there any doubt that there is plenty of work to be done?

        • Terry Tree Tree

          jimino,  Do you mean an organization by that name?  Are you referring to the fact that the infrastructure of the U.S. needs people to step up and be citizens?  Perhaps you are recruiting corporations, companies, and the wealthy to become actual productive citizens, instead of parasites?

          • Anonymous

            I’m referring to our government.   

    • Anonymous

      @sbanicki:disqus  Check my response to Steve Banicki above.

      What is unclear, in part at least, is how much of the cut in defense spending the “Tea Party” would “allow” to be spent on the issues you support. They seem to want immediate spending cuts which will only put the U.S. on a path to a double dip Great Recession, whether they realize it or not. Some undoubtedly do, and want it anyway so as to try to use the issue to flimflam the American public into supporting them as they do not currently hold the presidency, which for at least some justifiable reasons, is held responsible for the economy even when there is no support for his policies in Congress. And the current president does not seem to understand that he has to make his case even when he knows he cannot achieve it.

      Unless, of course he really was tainted by his friends at the Chicago School of Economics and their austerity (Hoover) beliefs. In that case is replay of Hoover’s inability to propose and/or implement spending programs that would have saved a lot of the real pain experienced during the Great Depression.

  • Pingback: The Hill Poll: Majority says military involved in too many places | Conservative Heritage Times

  • Sam

    I wish we can bring all our troops home without causing havoc and collapse in those countries.

    Many have said that things are better in Afghanistan after the US entered there.

    I feel for all those in third world countries whose government is so corrupt and destructive and sometimes not-existent.

    But US military is not a solution. We cannot police ALL those countries.

    I think we need to increase foreign aid and minimize military gradually, maybe even proportionally. Increased foreign aid would be spend on education, health care, etc. and hopefully will help those people build their own country, from the ground up.

    I know it is not an immediate solution, but it is one that I see hope for in the future. It is the sustainable one where we are not left taking care of all those countries for years and years to come and where people aren’t going to be growing up “hating” US.

    Educating kids and adults NOW to take control of their own lives and later – their own country – teaching them to develop their own businesses and help themselves.

    • Anonymous

      And we seem to have spent time and money creating those “corrupt and destructive and sometimes non-existent” governments. 

      Not excluding our government, come to think of it…

  • nj

    How about we stop using the Orwellian references “Defense Department” and “defense spending.” Pretending that much of any of this has to do with actual defense immediately puts the discussion in a surreal and bogus context. 

    Substitute “Department of Empire Maintenance” and “corporate-racketeering spending” or “spending to maintain access to other countries’ resources” and we automatically start from a more honest place.

    The U.S. spends more on it’s armed empire maintenance (see, better already) than the combined military budgets of the next most profligate 17 countries combined. (Military spending: Defence costs | The Economist). 

    This is more than $2 billion per day. Billion with a “b” every day. About $1.5 million per minute.

    The accounting in the Department of Empire Maintenance is so bad, they have no idea of what about a quarter of their budget is spent on. The War On Waste – CBS News

    To make this ongoing crime against the taxpayers and humanity remotely plausible and defensible, the Masters of the Empire need to always hold some kind of Very Scary Boogeyman over our heads to keep the citizenry scared and pliant. (This is a long-used tactic of the Ruling Class, no matter their political stripe, see quotes below.)

    Now that the USSR is defunct as the Big Scary Thing, a couple of hundred guys running around the mountains of Afghanistan has been cast as the threat to life as we know it. And because a handful of them might find their way onto our shores as demonstrated by 9/11, we’ve created another money pit, the Department of Homeland Security, because, you know, the “Defense Department” can’t do it all on its own.

    - – - – - – -

    “Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people con’t want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. 

    But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship….Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”
    —Hermann Goering, at the Nuremberg Trials before he was sentenced to death

    “We need a common enemy to unite us.”

    —Condoleeza Rice, March 2000

    “Scare the hell out of the American people.”

    —Senator Arthur Vandenbur, telling President Truman what he needed to do in order to tax the American people to pay for the weapons and covert activities of the U.S. National Security State that was being planned, to destroy the Russian Communist State

    “Our government has kept us in a perputual state of fear—kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor—with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it…”

    —General Douglas Mac Arthur, 1957

    “The aim of practical politics is to keep the populace in a constant state of alarm, and hence clamoring to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary…”

    —H.L. Mencken

    • nj

      Dang, sorry that the links didn’t register. I don’t know why click-and-dragging from the browser to the “Reply” window doesn’t work.  I have to remember to highlight/copy/paste.

      Here they are (I hope!):

      http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/06/military-spending

      http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/01/29/eveningnews/main325985.shtml

    • Callowayrm

      Scholarly and erudite with references, and quotes! Well done, Sir. Would that more of our citizenry were so informed and so less subject to the propaganda bones thrown to us.
      The cabal is formed, we meet by the watchtower, the game is (virtually anyway) afoot!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

      Great post !!!   except this part: “And because a handful of them might find their way onto our shores as demonstrated by 9/11,””

      this 9/11 and who casued, choreographied and benefitted from such has never been clearly demonstrated.

      • nj

        Well, you know, i almost qualified that statement by adding, “assuming one believes the ‘official’ story of that day.” but i didn’t want to open that whole can of worms. It really should be its own discussion. I’d love to see OnPoint deal with it, but i doubt they will.

  • Anonymous

    Off topic, but:  “What would happen if we drastically shrunk the U.S. military’s overseas footprint?”  Whatever happened to the word “shrank”?  I lived for a long time overseas and by the time I got back, the language had been Beverly Hillbillied, coast to coast.Just askin’! Because this is, after all, a Boston station…!

  • Terry Tree Tree

    Corporate Control has gotten the U.S. into most of its wars, and “Police Actions”.  All the way back to the 1800′s , U.S. Marines, and other troops have been USED to enforce Corporate Control, that was counter to the stated ideals of The U.S.!  The Bananna Republic actions in South American countries, to keep fruit plantation workers on the job, for subsistence pay, the same for the fruit plantations in the Phillipines, and to an extent, The Boxer Rebellion in China.  Corporate Imperialism, at the expense or the indigent population, is a wrong, constantly repeated.  Look closely at the Corporations that supplied the ‘contractors’, at least from Vietnam forward.  Billions of dollars “Unaccounted for” (STOLEN!), wasted, and grossly overcharged!   Can anyone say ORGANIZED CRIME?? I guess I’ll be asassinated, or financially ruined, for this, but, it needs said.  I have served my country hundreds of times more than corporate shill, and career drug-addict fraud Rush Limbaugh, but am paid thousands of times less. 

    Terry, In Brewstertown, Tenn 

    • nj

      “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. ”
      —Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940), nicknamed “The Fighting Quaker” and “Old Gimlet Eye,” was a Major General in the U.S. Marine Corps and, at the time of his death, the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. Butler was awarded the Medal of Honor twice during his career, one of only 19 people to be awarded the medal twice. He was noted for his outspoken anti-interventionist views, and his book War is a Racket was one of the first works describing the workings of the military-industrial complex. After retiring from service, Butler became a popular speaker at meetings organized by veterans, communists, pacifists and church groups in the 1930s. Butler came forward in 1934 and informed Congress that a group of wealthy industrialists had plotted a military coup to overthrow the government of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Thanks nj.  This is, in part, what I was referring to.  The list goes on, almost endlessly.  A disgusting use of “The Forces of Democracy” exposed by one of its greatest partiots!  Iraq is probably the worst example to date.  Who can be sure, though?  Evidence may illuminate a worse travesty.

  • Dee from NYS

    How ironic that as we prepare to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, we no longer seem able to wage anything but offensive wars of dubious provenance that we can’t win or bring ourselves to walk away from.

  • http://zetivox.com XHerakleitos

    I’m guessing we have Trident Nuclear Subs working close to Russia in the Arctic Circle? 

    Remember Yeltsin having 15 minutes when they mistakenly thought  Norwegian weather sat launch was coming at them?  The Cold War is “over” and we still maintain this cost and press that margin??

    This is one thing that I never can got off my mind. Tell me we don’t spend billions to keep Tridents poised, to keep a 3rd limb of a Triad … for the sake of what?

    • YeahMan

      In case China graduates too many engineers and won’t share them with us.

  • InActionMan

    For anyone interested in this topic I would strongly recommend Chalmers Johnson’s “Blow-Back Trilogy” (Blow-back, The Sorrows of Empire, Nemesis) “The Sorrows of Empire” is especially good on this topic

  • Benjaminwilliamallen

    The ugly truth is that our military is, in part, a federal jobs program. say we bring 250,000 of them home and they all get honorable discharges. We could count the savings, but what jobs will these able bodied soldiers be able to secure?

    • ThresherK

      On the one hand, there is a bit of pigs-in-the-snout here. Some of our most outspoken presecessionists, like Governor Goodhair Perry of Texas, can’t draw off the federal teat of all those bases.

      On the other, direct military expenditure doesn’t result in a lot of bang for the buck. Not much multiplier effect, and it is a bit of a rathole compared to the money we could be spending on everything in our society which has been held together with bubblegum (proverbially) like bridges and watermains.

  • ThresherK

    After sorts like John McCain and George Will are on this subject, I want to know who in the public arena will fess up to being wrong on Iraq.

    Until the own up I see no reason to take them seriously on withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the larger issue of deploying troops on a fighting basis.

    Really, McCain, out of Afghanistan will make us “isolationists”? Guess losing so badly in 2008 really embittered you.

  • Greg

    When Bush was president, the republicans were warmongers. Now that Obama is president, they want to end wars and save money on defense spending.

    Idiots! Flipflopers! Where were these people when Bush invaded Iraq?!?

    • ThresherK

      They were playing Chickenhawk. Rumstud and Colin “Yellowcake” Powell aside, there was barely a one of them who supported, say, Vietnam by staying away from it.

    • nj

      When Bush was president, the Democrats were anti-war. Now that Obama is president, they do little or nothing to end wars to save money on defense spending.
      See how that works?

  • Psiofny

    Tom, There is in economics the opportunity cost concept. Please ask your panelist if there is any research studies that measures the opportunity costs of these misguided military expenditures, i.e. Vietnam, Granada, Bosnia, etc. Thanks

  • Peter Lake

    Sure, bring the troops home, reduce the size of the military and add .5% to the unemployment numbers.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

      Better to have them on unemployment and foodstamps in the US than to have them roaming around as unwanted expensively armed to the teeth guests in other peoples countries.

      • Paul

        I respectfully disagree. Do we really want to transform people who think they are doing something productive into people who are a drag on society thereby destroying their self esteem? Walk around any major city in the US, and look at the number of homeless who are veterans. Insufficient care of returning vets will lead to increased homelessness. Bring the troops home if you want, but let’s hold off on talk of reducing the size of the military until unemployment drops to a more manageable level, and we have a plan for integrating these folks into civilian society.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

          As FDR converted the quasi-military Civilian Work Corp into an armed  military force,   the US should do the reverse.   One idea is to transfer trained infantry killers into the Army Corp of Engineers, take away the weapons, and have them work on levies and infrastructure programs.  Train them in forestry and firefighting…whatever.   Return them back to the US.

          • Paul

            Good ideas. Unfortunately, our current political climate will not allow any of these things to happen. The impetus for this current conversation on cutting military spending is not questioning what we value as a society, it is the concern for a growing deficit. Chicken hawks have been transformed into deficit hawks, and they control the national conversation. So discharged troops will be left to fend for themselves all so we can reduce the deficit. I for one, can’t stand by while we take money from military families just so we can preserve tax cuts for the very wealthy. Bring them home, but take care before implementing any reduction in force.

        • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

          Troops sitting in the sands of the middle east do not contribute to our society. Bring them home and lets put them to work in real productive jobs.

    • nj

      Like any number of other jobs, as a whole, we’d be better off paying many troops to stay home and do nothing.

  • Webb Nichols

    Turn the Military and the Military Industrial Complex into Nation Building in the United States. Clean up America. Train killers to be builders. Put the guns away. Pick up the plowshares. Work on the infrastructure. Work on Leadership and education. Assist. Assist. Assist. Collaborate with their people.

  • Webb Nichols

    Turn the Military and the Military Industrial Complex into Nation Building in the United States. Clean up America. Train killers to be builders. Put the guns away. Pick up the plowshares. Work on the infrastructure. Work on Leadership and education. Assist. Assist. Assist. Collaborate with their people.

    • Anonymous

      Our country would be much better off and we would lead by example instead of by threats and violence.  It’s way past time to spread the message that “you can be all that you can be” without wearing camouflage in some distant country and having someone trying to kill you. 

  • Anonymous

    Listening to Walt, I realize what a bad idea it is to link “bring our troops home” to “the recession” or “military vs. Social Security.” 

    No.  Bringing the troops home isn’t about a temporary concession to our current economic straits and the needs of seniors. This time it’s about a change of character:  a lowering of our military profile across the board.  I like the idea of raising a couple of generations of Americans for whom the military will be, indeed, a defense force instead of an extension of our deeply-ingrained imperialism. 

    Time to stop being an empire. And time to become a self-respecting and equal member of the global community.  Moral leadership and partnership?  Wouldn’t that be a good role for America?

  • Freeman Kirby

    Morin Tom & Guest;
                                Why Oh why would ANYONE listen to John Mc Cain;
    After his sad PUBLIC display for the past several  years. And we have to ask WHY America is in a DOWNWARD spiral ? How do Leaders call themselves leaders, with NO LEADERSHIP ? 2012 is going to be a wild year !! Yea !!!!

  • wwlaager

    We’ve never PAID fror WWII! The Hanford Project is Washington State is a nuclear waste farm from the 1940s through the 70s.

    Its all well and could to be fiscally prudent. Pay the PAST DUE BILLS of 70 years!

  • Paul

    I’m all for bringing our troops home and removing them from harm’s way, but the biggest problem facing our country today is high unemployment. Wouldn’t troop draw-downs, aka military layoffs, just add to this unemployment? How about we solve our jobs problem before we start looking at how to cut the deficit? Reducing unemployment by 5% would result in nearly 15Million more tax payers; seems like that would go a long way toward reducing the deficit…

  • Anonymous

    I agree with “Tony.” Defense at the costs of our way of living at home, which we are theorhetically defending does not serve us.
    http://michaelmaczesty.blogspot.com/2011/06/we-heart-afghanistan-for-now.html

  • Loring, Somerville

    What is the relationship to our interest in Afghanistan, the largest narco-state in the world, and our war on drugs?  Billions of dollars are involved.  Follow the money in these cases and you’ll see overt or covert military actions in the drug producing centers in the world.  Isn’t it ironic to see the Marines guarding poppy fields in Afghanistan as we incarcerate thousands of US citizens for smoking pot.  The fact is that we have to keep the troops abroad to keep the heroin flowing, part of the secret war to destroy Russia. 

  • Wil

    I’d like to hear more discussion about how to integrate personnel into the economy as military manpower is demobilized. After WW 2 the GI Bill and other measures prepared a work force that was well equipped (educated) to contribute to evonomic growth. We need to understand how to do this in today’s very different circumstances, and the special-interest based politics prevailing today is not helpful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

    700 military bases around the world is primarily to coerce the rest of the world to accept  worthless fiat paper money in exchange for their resources and labor.  

    The US military has no other discernible value other than destroying cities, infrastructure and killing civilians and defenders of foreign cultures.    The premise that it defends the nation is preposterous.   It only perpetuates hatred and threats.

  • Robertdebauge

    Both wars have gone unpaid. We did not raise taxes. It is time to do to raise taxes to support our troops in these important and strategic places. We can’t abandon Afghanastan or Iraq. We went in. Now it is time to stand by them.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

      Such convoluted jingoisms and logic.  “””Abandon”” Afghanistan or Iraq ????   How about just leaving them alone and paying them for the damage the US has caused ??

      And  “support the troops” ??  give us a break !!!!   

      You are correct on raising taxes.

  • 24vet

    I agree that it’s time to cut military spending! The impending mountain of debt our country has mandates we have to stop spending what we don’t have.  Mayors asking for the $$ to be sent their way will just shift the debt and do nothing to reduce the debt.  Liberals showed conservatives pushing granny off a cliff.  Spend thrifts will put our grandkids onto the street in cardboard boxes.  We need to stop spending what we don’t have.

  • Lyfong

    For info on missile defense, robotic and drone warfare, see http://www.space4peace.org from Global Network Against Nuclear Weapons
    in Space;  also Peace Action Cambridge, Cole Harrison, 11 Garden St.

  • Diane in Omaha

    Had we not established military bases in the Middle East, the rationale for Al Qaeda’s attacks on the USS Cole, the World Trade Center, etc. would have been moot. We have more than 700 military installations and bases around the world, many of them not on the official DoD books. Many – like Chagos island, for example – are extremely resented and justifiably so. I don’t think anyone outside of DoD knows how much all of these bases/installations cost us, but I’m betting we could pay for at least health care if we shut most or all of them down. I am not an isolationist, and I do believe that a great many of our military personnel are peace-loving men and women. But I do believe that we should pull back from being the world’s policeman; the majority of threats that face us today are not conventional military threats. And economic development will go further to obviate the need for a huge military than anything else I can think of.

  • Lyfong

    Raytheon peace vigil every week, Arthur and Mary Kate in Andover, contact North Andover Unitarian Church, House of Peace, and Veterans for Peace chapter 9 Smedley Butler Brigade – Pay Scanlon

  • Lyfong

    United for Justice with Peace (Greater Boston), War Resisters League New England, AFSC Disarmament Program, Alliance for Peace & Justice Western Mass, Essex Unitarian Universalist Church, Main Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home, Maine Veterans for Peace, Merrimack Valley People for Peace, New England Peace Pagoda, New Hampshire Peace Action, North Shore Coalition for Peace and Justice, Office of Mission and Ministry at Merrimack College, Peace Action Maine, VFP Chapter 45 Samantha Smith, etc etc etc

  • Winslow

    You folks are NOT talking about a) the WHYs of the conflict and b) how much less expensive it might be to try to get along better with our presumed adversaries.

  • Pnsret

    No one I’ve heard has mentioned the services Reserve Forces.  If the active duty is drawn down, the arm of the US forces should be well maintained and not decimated as it was in the 70s.

  • Phil

    Why do your guests assume that money saved by cutting military spending would result in increased funding to bridges, schools, etc.  The Republicans who are supporting military cuts are the same people who are opposed to domestic spending as well in favor of further tax cuts.

    • Paul

      Excellent point!  I’d be all for cuts in military spending if I knew all that saved money would be spent on other more worthwhile causes.  The reality is this won’t happen.  Are we really willing to take money from military families to preserve the tax cuts of the very wealthy?

      • limbodog

        Well I certainly wouldn’t.  The “worthwhile cause” is that we are spending more money than we make.  We need to reduce spending (and, yes, eliminate the tax cuts too.  I don’t like paying more taxes, but it has to be done)

      • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

        So we should spend money blowing up innocent people on the other side of the world just to spite the rich people?

  • Lyfong

    China has no history nor current ambition for military superpowerhood.
    China seeks a decent livelihood for its own people and the rest of the developing world in a multipolar world of interdepent relationships.
    The Chinese military has formally announced that they are no match with second generation weapons against the U.S.’s fourth generation super weapons.

    • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

      That’s a lie. Your government is showing military strength in the South China sea. They just took one of the islands of the Philippines 100 miles from Palawan and a month ago Chinese government rammed a Vietnamese scientific vessel and in 1988 killed innocent unarmed Vietnamese navy personel and were brutally murdered while your Navy were filming the massacre. Why China building it’s military? Who are they going to war with Philippines or Vietnam? Why does your government needs a new aircraft carrier. (to support north korea in time of war with the south). China TOOK all the jobs that the southeast asians had before and especially the American people. What else do you want? Stop making babies and be a responsible Asian neighbor. It is not the Philippines fault if you guys need more oil to feed your factories. You got the jobs what else do you want?

  • Freeman

     Tom;
             Your Guests “honest appraisals” are encourageing indeed-Thank You !!!

  • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

    If Unites States leave Afghanistan now. We lost the war. After hundreds or thouands of American soldiers died to liberate that country from the oppressive regime of the Taliban. It is not worthy to leave a country without finishing the US task of destroying the Taliban regime. We are succeeding but we are failing because of Pakistan. Pakistan is uncertain which side are they with. Americans or Terrorist. It was impossible for Pakistan not to know the hiding place of Bin Laden deep inside Pakistan with all those Pakistani soldiers and the Billion of dollars of military aid. Pakistan is just Fleecing the American people and US Government knows about this horrible ally in South Asia. The Philippines are willing to sacrifice Filipino soldiers to fight the terrorist in Mindanao and the Chinese aggression in Philippine waters or Spratlys but the Philippines only gets a few millions to eradicate terrorist in southeast Asia only enough to feed the Filipino soldiers not support them with new military hardware. If China invades the palawan islands Philippines as no choice but to give up those islands.

  • RayandCathyE

    Thank-you Tom for this great program.  This was your Edward R Murrow moment.  I hope this marks a turning point in our national consciousness. 

  • Lyfong

    I forgot to add that Boston owes much of its historic wealth to the Old China Trade (see wikipedia) which saved the young newly independent colonies after the Revolutionary War when Great Britain, the loser, cut off all trade, the files are in the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem.

    • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

      American and British forces helped China during WW2. I think owing something from the Chinese is passe.

  • Victoria

    I have two comments: 
    First, as the wife of a submarine officer, I see a different perspective:  the military is, in fact, making deep cuts.  Submarines currently perform 60% of the Navy’s operational missions with only 7% of the Navy’s personnel. In my husband’s current position, he spends 80% of his time working on a 2-year project to reduce his Command’s budget by 20% — a big number requiring personnel and funding cuts across the board.  Wars are expensive, and it’s expensive to incentivize people to want to fight them.  I think it’s equally important to consider the question, “Budget cuts:  at what cost?”  It’s a much more difficult number to quantify, and therefore harder to defend, but should be analyzed with the same level of scrutiny.

    Secondly, coming into an election season I think the military budget is an easy target — although my husband and our family consider it a great honor to serve
    our country, and do so willingly, I can’t help but be frustrated by this conversation.  We make sacrifices every day for our country, yet I see Americans everywhere who are completely apathetic to anything that doesn’t effect their own interests.  Obviously Congress will have to make some hard decisions in order to bring our spending back to sustainable levels, but that’s their job.  I can’t help but wonder how much faster it would happen if, like our military, they were also denied a paycheck during a “budget crisis”.

  • Victoria

    I have two comments: 

    First, as the wife of a submarine officer, I see a different
    perspective:  the military is, in fact, making deep cuts.  Submarines
    currently perform 60% of the Navy’s operational missions with only 7% of
    the Navy’s personnel. In my husband’s current position, he spends 80%
    of his time working on a 2-year project to reduce his Command’s budget
    by 20% — a big number requiring personnel and funding cuts across the
    board.  Wars are expensive, and it’s expensive to incentivize people to
    want to fight them.  I think it’s equally important to consider the
    question, “Budget cuts:  at what cost?”  It’s a much more difficult
    number to quantify, and therefore harder to defend, but should be
    analyzed with the same level of scrutiny.

    Secondly, coming into an election season I think the military budget is
    an easy target — although my husband and our family consider it a great
    honor to serve
    our country, and do so willingly, I can’t help but be frustrated by this
    conversation.  We make sacrifices every day for our country, yet I see
    Americans everywhere who are completely apathetic to anything that
    doesn’t effect their own interests.  Obviously Congress will have to
    make some hard decisions in order to bring our spending back to
    sustainable levels, but that’s their job.  I can’t help but wonder how
    much faster it would happen if, like our military, they were also denied
    a paycheck during a “budget crisis”.

  • Victoria72

    I have two comments: 

    First, as the wife of a submarine officer, I see a different
    perspective:  the military is, in fact, making deep cuts.  Submarines
    currently perform 60% of the Navy’s operational missions with only 7% of
    the Navy’s personnel. In my husband’s current position, he spends 80%
    of his time working on a 2-year project to reduce his Command’s budget
    by 20% — a big number requiring personnel and funding cuts across the
    board.  Wars are expensive, and it’s expensive to incentivize people to
    want to fight them.  I think it’s equally important to consider the
    question, “Budget cuts:  at what cost?”  It’s a much more difficult
    number to quantify, and therefore harder to defend, but should be
    analyzed with the same level of scrutiny.

    Secondly, coming into an election season I think the military budget is
    an easy target — although my husband and our family consider it a great
    honor to serve
    our country, and do so willingly, I can’t help but be frustrated by this
    conversation.  We make sacrifices every day for our country, yet I see
    Americans everywhere who are completely apathetic to anything that
    doesn’t effect their own interests.  Obviously Congress will have to
    make some hard decisions in order to bring our spending back to
    sustainable levels, but that’s their job.  I can’t help but wonder how
    much faster it would happen if, like our military, they were also denied
    a paycheck during a “budget crisis”.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Victoria,   As a former millitary member, with a child serving, I see both sides, and know there are many wasteful millitary programs, that serve only the pockets of certain corporations, to the detriment of other companies, and the citizenry.  Constant, honest monitoring is the only way to avoid waste and corruption.  Many people are better paid, and have made a lot less sacrafice than your “Sewer-pipe-sailor”, and SHOULD make their sacrafice, which they have called on everyone else to do.

    • Justin Greyson

      No offense to you, your husband or the tens of thousands of decent people in the military. The simple fact is that we cannot afford a huge military infrastructure.  Those days are long gone…1945 is history. So too is a US military built for that era.

      Like every other nation…we have to choose:  a decent life for all citizens, or a huge and wasteful military. There is not enough for money for both.

  • Lilya

    Why can’t OnPoint look at the total instant collapse of WTC #7 and invite Architect Richard Gage??????????????????

    What happened to true journalism?

  • RC in Tennessee

       These generalized intellectual discussions are nice but I would like to hear somebody cite some facts: like the # of US troops in Germany, 55,000, versus the # of German troops in Germany, 14,000. This is the story around the world. The US is subsidizing other countries defense while they build infrastructure and give health care to their people.     

       Actual cost of the US military: 700-800 billions, 23% of a 3.5 trillion federal budget. But the ACTUAL US defense budget, both foreign and domestic, is more like 2.1 trillion, or 60% of the federal budget, when you include all the agencies and departments that minister to our national paranoia ie Homeland Security, CIA, etc. That NEEDS to be the discussion, not just the military budget. Are we REALLY so unsafe? 
      
       This the stuff that keeps us from having coherent national policies on jobs, manufacturing, energy, research, infrastructure, health care, education, that those countries that are our competitors have set goals, policies, and committed resources to, and have done for decades.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      RC,  As a fellow-Tennessean, I thank you for good questions, information, and good points to ponder.  Was rapidly giving more people more guns and more authority, without time for in-depth security checks, a smart move? 

    • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

      I know that a lot of the budget for the Dept. of Energy is used to maintain/test our nuclear weapons arsenal.

      • Anonymous

        Well, we DO want them properly maintained if we have them.  One being transported somewhere was inadvertently dropped somewhere else but didn’t go off.  I understand they’re cutting staff guarding and preparing them to nuke Russia, (still).  (?)  Wish Obama would push nuclear non proliferation and destruction of those that already exist. To start, forget about trying to make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.  The ultra orthodox Israelis in power don’t want peace, just more land.. Cut aid to them.  (A laughable idea, considering AIPAC.)  O should try to negotiate peace in Kashmir, and, if possible, (it isn’t),  rid Pakistan of its nukes.  The idea of Taliban guy living in the seventh century, or a suave, modern American doctor getting one to a New York sidewalk or dropping one from a private plane,  scares the hell out of me, when I allow myself to think about it.   The day Reagan was elected, (not sure if there was any connection), I had a vision. I saw a flash  over midtown, and when I turned to look down there, a mushroom cloud was billowing.  Thought objectively, the way you do when in grave danger, that the wave would hit in a second.  An ex CIA guy said  Iran is capable of doing that, but I’m not worried about Iran. Pakistan scares the bejesus out of me.  And in spite of our crimes and idiocies, I’ve seen enough Frontline specials and read enough to realize that the real target is “infidels” anywhere in the west or in Muslim countries.  Sunnis vs. Shiites, “Jews and Crusaders” vs. Muslims. Some muslims.  More muslims killed than anyone else. Though I was raised an atheist, thank Goddess!, let’s face it, the 3 “Great” religions, which, as Jimmy Carter pointed out, are all the children of Abraham, having been killing each other from the get go.  Still troubles between  protestants and Catholics in Ireland.  And in the US now the only group it’s considered politically correct to criticize are evangelicals.  Bill Maher’s arrogant, ignorant bicoastal slurs of “rubes”, “red necks”, and “hillbillies”. It’s cool to be growing “locavore” organic lettuce or hogs, but to be a poor farmer, working in the hot sun, elsewhere.  forget it!  A farmer who runs cattle on my land in the NC mountains, and votes Republican, is for Medicare for everyone and against our wars, all of them.  Too bad O won’t speak to him.  The farmer also asks why no one speaks  of or talks to “the working class or the poor”.  

  • ThresherK

    Caller Terry in Nashville says “The New York Times doesn’t matter”, and he doesn’t read it, and his newspaper provides his news, augmented heavily by the internet.

    He probably needs to know how much the “media elite” shapes the acceptability of narratives, and how that drifts down to his local TV and newspaper. And I want very badly to know what he considers reliable and real news which is published on the internet.

    • ThresherK

      (This is the wrong thread; I’ve asked it to be removed. Ugh.)

      • Zing

        Relax…we don’t expect much

  • Norm

    Does the average person know we have more than 700 military bases outside of our country?  Why?

    • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

      Nope there is no 700 US military bases out side of America. The biggest was Clark Air Base and Subic bay but was closed because of Mount Pinatubo and Philippine Constitution. Americans can land anywhere at anytime in any ally countries but it doesn’t mean they are base on the country.

      • Anonymous

        No one knows the exact number but we do know for sure that there are at least 750 overseas bases, as counted in January of this year.  Why does no one know?  Well, quite apart from the secret “black bases” (presumably on the infamous “black budget”) which the Pentagon doesn’t acknowledge, they are also very cagey about bases which you can walk up to and photograph but can’t get them to put the base on the list.  It’s a mess.  Here’s what military writer Nick Turse has to say, among other things:

        “In a letter written last spring, Senator Ron Wyden and Representatives Barney Frank, Ron Paul,
        and Walter Jones asserted that there were just 460 U.S. military installations
        abroad, not counting those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nicholas Kristof,
        who came up with a count of 100 more than that, didn’t respond to
        an email for clarification, but may have done the same analysis as I
        did: search the Pentagon’s Base Structure Report and select out the
        obvious sites that, while having a sizable “footprint,” could only
        tenuously be counted as bases, like dependent family housing complexes
        and schools, resort
        hotels (yes, the Department
        of Defense has them), ski
        areas (them, too), and the
        largest of their golf
        courses – the U.S. military
        claimed to possess a total of 172 courses of all sizes in 2007 – and
        you get a total of around 570 foreign sites. Add to them the number
        of Afghan bases and you’re left with about 981 foreign military bases.

        As it happens, though, Afghanistan isn’t
        the only country with a baseworld blackout. Search the Pentagon’s
        tally for sites in Iraq and you won’t find a single entry. (That was
        true even when the U.S. reportedly had more
        than 400 bases in that country.)
        Today, the U.S. military footprint there has shrunk radically. The Department
        of Defense declined to respond to an email request for the current number
        of bases in Iraq, but published reports indicate that no fewer than
        88 are still there, including Camp Taji, Camp
        Ramadi, Contingency Operating Base
        Speicher, and Joint Base Balad, which, alone, boasts about 7,000 American troops.
        These missing bases would raise the worldwide total to about 1,069….”

        http://original.antiwar.com/engelhardt/2011/01/09/all-bases-covered/

    • Justin Greyson

      I believe the actual number of “bases” is in the 200+ range. But it is difficult to get an honest number from the good folks in DC.

  • Dainbug

    Britain can’t wage a foreign war ….” a bad thing? ”  We really are messed up if that is our view of the world and what our Military role is in the world. 

  • MarkKnoeller

    We must recognize what we’ve done to create these enemies.

    • Fredlinskip

      We haven’t done anything- they simply “hate us for our freedom”.
         Come on- get with the program.

      • Anonymous

        we have eight hundred bases the dod acknowledges. read “violent politics”
        by william pollard, about how counterinsurgency never works unless you’re on
        your own land. see american revolution. how would we feel if there were
        foreign bases in say, california, florida, north carolina, and queens?

  • Sharlene Thomas

    This is so interesting.  At lunch time, we called NPR’s Ombuds[wo]man’s Office in Washington, DC.   202.513.3245 … talked to Lori Grisham (sp?)

    Request that NPR’s Member Stations should be encouraged to cover topics that are not covered by commercial media; particularly not to keep a lid on the public outcry for a New, Independent and Scientific Investigation to the Collapse of the Towers, particularly WTC #7.

    The answer is: NPR made a decision NOT to cover that topic, no matter how much the public requests coverage.

    If this is journalism; I will eat the membership check that we send to NPR every year.

    Please invite Architect Richard Gage to OnPoint; unless you have something to cover up!

  • Photodocmark

    Hey, NPR, it’s “shrank,” NOT shrunk. This is why i sometimes have to turn off NPR. You’re supposed to know correct grammar!!!

  • Rodney Barker

    The time has come to face the fact that the brief time of the American Empire is drawing to a close. We can no longer afford nor need to control the world. I grew up in Britain and saw the same process happen there. Two wars weakened Britain and wars have weakened the U.S. In both countries the economic basis of power was and is no longer present.
    We need to defend ourselves and not try to rule the world.

  • Rodney Barker

    The time has come to face the fact that the brief time of the American Empire is drawing to a close. We can no longer afford nor need to control the world. I grew up in Britain and saw the same process happen there. Two wars weakened Britain and wars have weakened the U.S. In both countries the economic basis of power was and is no longer present.
    We need to defend ourselves and not try to rule the world.

  • Rodney Barker

    The time has come to face the fact that the brief time of the American Empire is drawing to a close. We can no longer afford nor need to control the world. I grew up in Britain and saw the same process happen there. Two wars weakened Britain and wars have weakened the U.S. In both countries the economic basis of power was and is no longer present.
    We need to defend ourselves and not try to rule the world.

  • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

    Wow it’s great to hear Republicans calling to bring home the troops. Ron Paul really articulated the point well in the debate. Constitutionally, the commander in chief can and should bring the troops home now; not when the generals endorse it. I wish Obama would follow Ron Paul’s lead on this.

  • William

    It is time we bring all the troops home from the various overseas bases. If we don’t own the land we should not be there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000836815861 Mary Lee

    One thing barely touched upon in the show:  what do we do with Eisenhower’s (reluctant) Military-Industrial Complex if we reduce our international engagement.  We all want the reduction, but how will the current domestic economy fare when federal contracts with the military industry are reduced?  We need a new way to turn arms producers into (figurative) washing machine producers.

  • Anonymous

    We don’t hear any coverage about the opium poppy crop and the Afghan economy.  We have a war on drugs ongoing for 40 years, and we don’t get any perspective on the conjunction of opium and military presence. The silence is puzzling.

  • Susan

    Thank you Tom for leading with Ron Paul.  Now that the issue he’s been harping on for such a long time is being discussed in the mainstream, it’s nice to recall one of the few who have been calling for a humble foreign policy for a very long time.  As I’m sure you know, the Congressman takes the long view when it comes to foreign policy, all the way back to 1789. Call it isolationism if you will, I’m for it because, for one thing, foreign entanglements are debilitating dead ends, as the founders of our nation discerned and sought to guard against via the law by which the States united. 

  • Susan

    Thank you Tom for leading with Ron Paul.  Now that the issue he’s been harping on for such a long time is being discussed in the mainstream, it’s nice to recall one of the few who have been calling for a humble foreign policy for a very long time.  As I’m sure you know, the Congressman takes the long view when it comes to foreign policy, all the way back to 1789. Call it isolationism if you will, I’m for it because, for one thing, foreign entanglements are debilitating dead ends, as the founders of our nation discerned and sought to guard against via the law by which the States united. 

  • Justin Greyson

    President Eisenhower warned us all. Too bad nobody was listening.

  • RKS in Charlotte

    Like everyone, I am concerned about the US expenses to maintain a military presence anywhere.
    However, there ARE positive reasons to continue to have U.S. military on bases outside the USA. The underlying understanding of “the American way” that the world holds is based in part on the day-to-day presence of ordinary Americans interacting with people of other countries, other cultures, other world views, and the U.S. military represents the best of our country’s citizens. Yes, there’s the Peace Corps and various study abroad programs of US colleges and universities allow “regular Americans” to experience the rest of the world, but year after year since the 1950s, our military have learned to look at the world with greater understanding and, in turn, they provide an example of who we are to the rest of the world.
    Face to face is still the best way to keep peace. If we make peace, we secure the safe world that we long for.

    • Anonymous

      While I totally agree that a majority of those serving in the US military and stationed abroad make great first line ambassadors of cultural exchange, we need to be fair and recognize and consider the flip side of drunken bar brawls, unruly behavior to the locals, seedy districts that prop up to service the stationed GIs that take a toll on local policing resources, increase rates of DUI homicides and on and on. 100 good deeds an occupying US military forces can be credit for is easily negated by long memories of gang rape and murder of young teens or grotesque prostitute murders which are often invoked when local opposition is trying to seize power during their elections. 

  • Anonymous

    I suggest all Americans ask ourselves how we would feel if there were  foreign bases in our country.  According to the Department of Defense we have 800 military bases around the world.  We never truly leave a country w/o leaving a base behind and/or a huge “embassy”. Could that be one reason that we have enemies in the first place?  Just cutting the military, however, will not in itself reinvigorate the economy until we can get the troops who come jobs, along with other Americans.  We must tax the rich and corporations.  The idea that we have bases in Germany is ridiculous.  A German minister played the Nazi card as an excuse to NOT bomb Libya.  

    By the way, I can’t reach you by that phone #. Am asked to enter an extension number. 

  • Anonymous

    It should also be suggested by someone that there is something dishonorable about drones, and people fighting wars and video games.  Today in the NY Times there were plans for cute little new ones, shaped like insects or birds. Great idea, (deep sarcasm).  People will start shooting birds, to accelerate the mass extinctions of species we’re already causing.  Yes. if I were the mother of a soldier I might be glad for them, but do they make us more hated and endangered? Look at Pakistan. We’re going to declare peace with honor and walk away from Afghanistan fooling no one about the peace or honor. 

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3ETFGMQ3B7VD4AAMILBBEVMCWE JasonA

      Just like we did in Vietnam…40 years ago. 50,000 + young Americans died for what? Nothing.

      • Anonymous

        yes, i was thinking of a quaker i knew during the vietnam war, who had a
        sign in the pea patch of his garden, saying “honor”.

  • Brennan511

    The way out is likely through Russia/Turkey like Marco Polo ‘for Crimean sakes’ Alexander left his lunch at the University.
    We need a logistical plan that deals terrorism the tourist card, not the wild card, not the resentful health of ptsd.
    The Logistical tourist card is finding true justice and sending that sociological package to the Point where leverage is maximized for HUMANITY! and America as well;
     Balancing the scales that bring the $ & Soldiers home on Angel wings [a slow boat] commenced with sacred anNYT =geo-math.
    For example If a young [PRE-Ft Hood-shooter] Nidel Hasan had gone to Collage or high school in The Near East; or if  teen Kurt Cobain [or MYSELF!] had gone to Collage/H.S. in IRELAND [1990's troubles?! or logistical Karma/Dharma!!!].
    Sending Value to where it belongs “preemptive INDI”, without fiending over it. We need to preVent and reGroup on all sides; using equations not armies [or drugs]. Hearts not muddy boots,, easy.

  • JP

    This guy’s assertion that U.S. Defense spending represents only 20% of the federal budget is apparently WAY OFF.

    The vast majority of estimates I can find on Google show defense spending accounts for between 50-60% of the Federal Budget.

    I wish Tom and his team at WBUR would do their homework better before these types interviews, so they can confront these intentionally misleading assertions! 

  • Anonymous

    NATO needing a structural revamping germane with the perennial lack of contributions from deadbeat nations like Greece and Portugal is long past due, and I also strongly share in the opinion that the US needs to close at least a quarter of its non-essential foreign bases, but we cannot reach these imperative decisions based on the cheap rhetorics based on political talking points de jour. And I’m afraid so many creditable journalists are a party to this. For instance, only Americans believe that the US is the “global police force” or that the “US subsidizes global security.” Sorry to be blunt about this, but this is just retarded hubris whether it’s coming from a liberal or a neocon wonk, or a press pundit who fails to question such statements.

    On page 9 of the following March, 2011 Congressional Research Service entitled “NATO Common Funds Burdensharing Background and Current Issues” appears a table that breaks down each member nation’s contributions to NATO. US assumes roughly 25% of the bill. And as such, there’s good reason it rubs the Germans the wrong way when we’re constantly stating how we’re looking out for their best interests and subsidizing their defense in places like Ramstein while having them pay for a great deal of our presence in Germany. 

    Likewise, Japan pays for roughly 70% to house US troops in Okinawa and South Korea is close behind this percentage. US Forces in Korea recently have come under examination due to an highly publicized admission by a former US-serviceman who admitted to illegally burying drums of toxic waste in South Korea. As presently agreed upon, locals assume the costs of environmental clean-up. 

    IOW, we again are trying to reach a rational conclusion employing faulty facts, outdated attitudes and disinformation. Last time this happened where the US forces were involved led to the Iraq disaster. We need to ask more questions like who’s paying for what, why are they paying us and what do both parties have to gain, how would closing bases in East Timor and the like affect regional balance of power as well as US manufacturing in Lowell, MA and why do we tolerate frivolous spending like the spare jet engine being back on the defense budget while offending our allies with hubris?

    • Anonymous

      On page 9 of the following March, 2011 Congressional Research Service entitled “NATO Common Funds Burdensharing Background and Current Issues” appears a table that breaks down each member nation’s contributions to NATO:

      http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL30150.pdf

      • Anonymous

        exactamento, but why your name?

        • Anonymous

          I’m an opera, Wagner and mythology fan.

  • Dee

    I couldn’t agree more with Christopher Preble of the Cato Institute people like John Mc Cain and his hawkish pals in the GOP in the last decade have been a disaster for the American people and their economy, plus the people of Iraq , Afghanistan, Pakistan and now
    Libbya and Yemen….

    And how dare he considerate himself a patriot supporting a surge of troops build up in Iraq in 2007 when the American people voted to
    bring the troops home and the end the war in Iraq in the ’06 election.

    He should be held in contempt for going against the wishes of the
    American electorate then…I am waiting for someone to rein him in
    for this and JOe Lieberman and of course, the sleeze bags like Mitch Mc Connel and John Boehner who lined up their buddies in both Houses of government for this misappropriation of US tax payers
    dollars…This was a very serious crimes in terms of the cost to US
    tax payers, American lives and Iraqi lives…..

    I wish Christopher Preble and others were more vocal in bringing
    up this crime too as it has only help promote what Hannah Arendt:
    stated so clearly…”Violence, like all action, changes the world,
    but the most probable change is to a more violent world.” 

    And isn’t that the truth? Our world is a much more violent place
    today.  And how can hawks like John Mc Cain and others and now Mitt Rommey talk about the “violent jihadusts” in one breath and
    fail to see how such support for war making and US agression has
    often been the root cause –in many cases.

    People need to bear in mind–there was no history of suicide bom-
    ing in Iraq–not one–before US boots were on the ground there!

    And the same can be said of Afghanistan and Pakistan too….

    And how shamefully misguided Obama looks today in supporting
    right wing and hakwish policies in those countries today…..

    No wonder his democratic base is outraged with him and many
    have pledged not to vote for him again if he doesn’t stop per-
    petuating Right wing policies and crimes against other people
    in other lands…

    Indeed, I incline to predict riots in the streets against Right wing policies —if there aren’t major shifts soon…People are very angry how Right wing politics have ruined their economy and countries
    around the world….Dee

    P.S The Middle East is falling apart right now due to Right wing policies . It’s all that support for tyrants to preserve the outlaw
    state of Israel and big oil ….It’s all coming home too….
    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/History+shows+pacifists+aren't+dreamers%3A+in+the+past+20+years,…-a0105480217

  • dee

    Here comes the Real Rub on the FRADULENT ARGUMENt the Right Wing has perpetuated on the 9/11 attack and America’s War on Terror …
     
    Please read the scholarship and authority of US Historian of Joseph J. Ellis on this ranking of National US Threats–in a NYT Op-ed in 2006:
     
    “My first question: where does Sept. 11 rank in the grand sweep of American history as a threat to national security? By my calculations it does not make the top tier of the list, which requires the threat to pose a serious challenge to the survival of the American republic.
     
    Here is my version of the top tier: the War for Independence, where defeat meant no United States of America; the War of 1812, when the national capital was burned to the ground; the Civil War, which threatened the survival of the Union; World War II, which represented a totalitarian threat to democracy and capitalism; the cold war, most specifically the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, which made nuclear annihilation a distinct possibility.
     
    Sept. 11 does not rise to that level of threat because, while it places lives and lifestyles at risk, it does not threaten the survival of the American republic, even though the terrorists would like us to believe
     so.” http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/28/opinion/28ellis.html
     
    And this article only touches on the injustices and violence Right Wing Wing policies have pertpetrated against other civilian populations around the world–especially in Latin American and the Middle East over the
    last 6o yrs supporting tyrants over the rights of indigenous people.
     
    Too bad so many on the Left have lost their voices and have failed
    to be the voice of reason and “to take on the Republicans” as Ted Kennedy often urged them to do.
     
    Nevertheless, here is JFK on the Senate floor in 1954 condemning America’s Complicity with France in perpetuating the cycle of vio-
    lence against the indigenous people of Algeria in this Boston Globe
    tribute.  (Note his ranking of threats to man and his freedom..
    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2007/07/15/the_challenge_of_imperialism/ 
     
    Now it all sounds so familiar again with the US supporting the Nato bombing campaign against Libbya today It is hard to believe the
    Obama leadership couldn’t have worked out a deal with Qaddafi
    when many in our country were only praising our trading their efforts
    to do business with his country in the last year…
     
    Once again, it seems the Right Wing war mongering of John Mc Cain
    and the GOP are criminally dominating US Foreign policies and shame
    on Obama and Senator Kerry and many others for their complicity in
    this… They ought to be speaking out like JFK did and Ted Kennedy
    did and opposing it front and centre….Dee

  • The Architect

    I won’t say I know the answers as I know I don’t comprehend the whole picture.  But if we decrease the size of our military, won’t that increase the unemployment numbers?

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Jul 25, 2014
Pallbearers carry a coffin out of a military transport plane during a ceremony to mark the return of the first bodies, of passengers and crew killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, from Ukraine at Eindhoven military air base, Eindhoven, Netherlands, Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (AP)

Secretary of State Kerry to Israel. Obamacare back in the courts. Mourning as remains of Malaysia Flight 17 victims come home. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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