One of the phrases we see every day is that we must ‘support our troops’. Some of this is a remembrance of how returning troops were treated when they came home from the Vietnam War and that I can understand. The phrase was created to say that we support our troops even if we don’t support the particular war. Today though there is an excess of militarism that used to be out of place in our country.
Our politicians today have made the military a sacred cow. Romney is criticizing Obama for trying to make some sensible cuts to the military. The US in true military terms is safer than it was been for a generation or more. Our northern and southern borders are secure from attack. Western Europe is free of conflict and the threat of Soviet domination is now long gone. The end of the Soviet empire should have ushered in an era in which of foolish military infatuation would finally end. Today we have the world’s largest military, by far and we have spent the last 11 years at war in the Iraq and Afghanistan. There were no military objectives in Iraq and there were few in Afghanistan (certainly not enough to be there for 11 years).
One fact that anyone should know who studies history is that a standing army will be used. The US spent most of its existence from 1789 to 1940 without a large permanent army. Even then the US did get into useless wars (see the Mexican war in the 1840’s).
We need to reduce our military. We need to stay out of conflicts. If we didn’t have this military albatross around our necks we wouldn’t be tempted by fads such as the Arab Spring or Syria. This would have been the old conservative position before 1960. We should revisit that now and end our military infatuation.