In addition to the 4,000 military bases in the U.S., we have an estimated 1,000 military sites overseas — ranging from huge installations to small "lily pads." Why do we still need over 200 military sites in Germany? Why does the Pentagon maintain several resort hotels, ski resorts and more than 230 golf courses overseas?
Because the Dept of Defense is the only government budget that is not subject to a financial audit, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cost of all these overseas military sites. Including the $115 billion spent in Afghanistan and Iraq last year, estimates range from $170 billion to $250 billion.
Hey, remember when Thomas Jefferson argued against even having a standing army in America? He’s probably turning over in his grave at the sight of USA’s growing military empire — domestic and abroad. How is it any different than that old-time British imperialism?
Surely we can trim some of the Pentagon pork and still maintain our security. Defense spending is not immune from waste, fraud and the law of diminishing returns. In addition to closing many of our overseas military sites, let's eliminate the weaponry that the Pentagon hasn't even asked for and doesn't even want. As retired Congressman Barney Frank quipped, “We have three ways to annihilate the former Soviet Union. Let’s pick two.”
Why is that the same folks who argue that "throwing more money" at education or healthcare doesn't do any good are so quick to throw endless money at the Pentagon? (I’m talking to you Senator John McCain). One could argue that our occupation of and drone strikes on foreign countries are not making us safer in the long run, but rather just breeding the next generation of America-haters. How would you feel if China put bases in the U.S.? If your innocent family member were killed by a Pakistani drone?
We should help the defense contractors and their employees transition to more useful activity like building America’s 21st century infrastructure and power grid. Let's make sure we have jobs for the returning soldiers by investing some of the savings into hiring lots more teachers, firefighters and police officers, offering free pre-K to every child, providing free college education or technical training to anyone who's willing to work hard, and rebuilding our 70,000 failing bridges. As an engineer who works at a Tucson defense contractor put it, “I'd rather be building bridges than bombs.”
Oh, and the next time we decide to wage war, let’s be sure to institute the draft and a dedicated tax to pay for it. Something tells me Americans won’t be so eager to go put a boot in their A**.