This Military Paradox Could Very Well Lead to Nuclear Armageddon
In 1949 the U.S. War Department changed its name. Branches of the armed forces were then administered under a new name: the Department of Defense. This newly defined mandate of defending the United States should have been a relatively easy and inexpensive task.
Geography and history render the U.S. the most defensible country in the world. Canada and Mexico, good trading partners of the U.S., have not demonstrated a threat to American territorial integrity; nor would they have the military muscle to do so.
More importantly, there are no overseas countries that pose a serious conventional warfare challenge to U.S. security. The enormous logistical operations needed to invade the United States, in the Western Hemisphere and across the world’s largest oceans, would be beyond the naval and maritime capabilities of any country or military alliance of countries.
The “loss of strength gradient” is a rule in military logistics—armed forces weaken with increasing distance from their supply base. Extrapolating from combatant numbers in Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II, an undertaking of that magnitude would require possibly ten million troops, hundreds of thousands of pieces of heavy equipment, millions of tons of ammunition and fuel, field hospitals, repair facilities and the many other necessities of warfare. In all, a logistical impossibility.
Moreover, any naval armada assembled for that purpose would be visible to American spy satellites and subject to missile and submarine attack. The large size and population of the U.S. would make it very difficult to conquer, or occupy if conquered. Also, the 390 million privately owned firearms in the U.S. (as of 2022) would be a strong deterrent to any would-be invader. The United States is not prone to conventional armed attack and invasion by any force. A would-be attacker has only the terrifying nuclear option—for which there is no effective defense.
The extraordinary level of current American military spending cannot be explained in terms of real defense needs. Now, and in the past, other less justifiable reasons account for the militarism, wars, lost lives, violations of international law and the money spent. The latter at the expense of pressing domestic needs.
The paradox of the American military is the enormous amount of money spent in its support. The military budget of the United States in 2023 was $842 billion. With a population of 340,000,000 this is a cost of $2,476 for each U.S. resident. The military budget of the U.S. is more than the GDP of 90% of all countries. There is no real threat that would justify this level of expenditure on defense.
Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a prescient warning of an obscure but powerful alliance in American politics—the Military-Industrial Complex. This real but almost invisible structure has a three-fold purpose: to maintain war industry profiteering and employment; to crush socialist governments and movements across the world; and to secure global supplies of oil, gas and other profitable commodities. None of these goals has been publicly acknowledged but is apparent in detailed studies of U.S. military interventions.
Most of the many U.S. wars, over more than a century, have occurred on the other side of the world and across vast oceans, where it also maintains more than 800 overseas military bases according to the Pentagon at an enormous cost.
The U.S. military’s division of the world into command regions—Africa Command, European Command, Central Command (Middle East), Indo-Pacific Command, Southern Command (South and Central America) and Northern Command (U.S. and Canada)—is clear evidence that its purposes extend well beyond mere defense. Also, the United States Navy has 11 carrier strike groups. Each has an aircraft carrier and several supporting vessels. They do not defensively patrol the coasts of California or the Eastern Seaboard but, rather, ply the distant oceans of the world projecting American power.
Douglas MacArthur was a U.S. General of the Army in World War II. He noted (in 1952) the development of a war economy, “in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear.”
This use of fear continues today. To maintain the notion of usefulness the MIC needs the public perception of unending enemies. Through its compliant corporate media, it has manufactured a never-ending succession of adversaries whose real purpose is fear propaganda.
Socialism has been the principal target of U.S. militarism. It is defined as the public ownership of the essential and often large-scale means of production. The family farm and corner florist shop are not targets for nationalization. The larger industries such as oil, health care, transportation, pharmaceuticals, banking, mining, steel and other activities essential to modern society are also the preferred enterprises of the corporate community. Socialism has therefore been viewed by the U.S. government as antithetical to international corporate operations, an ideology which Washington has long fought to stop. Behaviorally, the United States government functions as a corporatocracy.
The October Revolution in 1917 produced the first socialist government—in Russia. The United States soon intervened militarily but failed to halt its progress. Few Americans are aware of the U.S. military’s North Russian Expedition in 1918.
Washington’s fear was that an anti-corporate ideology would expand within the nascent Soviet Union and elsewhere. A successful socialist economy was a threat which could provide a model for the rest of Eurasia and the world. Since its unsuccessful invasion of Russia, defeating socialism has remained an unstated but major foreign policy of the U.S.
The economic debate on capitalism versus socialism is important and will continue into the future. But the overriding question for democracy remains: Do nations have the right to choose between them? Washington does not think so.
An obvious but ignored fact of modern history is that the United States and its larger and invented leftist adversaries have peacefully co-existed for 75 years, and can continue to do so well into the future. But the “permanent war economy” is profitable. For a few people in power.
The U.S. has waged armed conflicts in 30 countries since the end of World War II in 1945. All were wars of choice. Furthermore, information from the U.S. Congressional Research Service reveals that the number of American armed actions has been increasing over the last several decades. The long-term consequences of this militaristic behavior cannot be predicted with certainty.
However, in an age of ICBMs and nuclear weaponry, a retaliatory response is very possible and would be catastrophic. It is less likely a nuclear war will occur spontaneously by one of the nine countries having nuclear weapons. More probably it will stem from escalation of a conventional war when one country faces imminent defeat and the dangerous emotion of fear prevails. Any of the many wars initiated by the U.S. could accelerate into a nuclear holocaust. Ironically, in this context, the largest threat to the American public is the behavior of its own military.
Survival in a world with thousands of nuclear weapons requires a substantial level of intelligent and judicious governance. Lutheran Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s thesis states that stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than evil because it cannot be corrected. A clinical evaluation of the leaders in Washington would probably reveal that few if any are actual morons, defined as those with an IQ between 51 and 70. However, their demonstrated willingness to engage in war, in an age of nuclear weaponry, is proof of their lack of sufficient intellect and good judgment. There are few serious challenges to these masters of mediocrity. Certainly not in the mass media.
This deficit, coupled with the corrupting influence of Big Money in American politics, bodes poorly for the well-being and security of U.S. citizens and the world. Also their fear of socialism—in faraway places—suggests an ignorance-based paranoia. These cerebral deficiencies, and their potential consequences, will continue.
The cultivated threat of a leftist enemy will extend into the future in tandem with the motive of war industry profiteering, an unfounded and dangerous belief in U.S. invulnerability and, possibly, boyish notions of masculinity. Washington’s sociopathic indifference to the ravages of war—death, destruction, dismembered children and devastated families—is proof that many in its leadership do not belong in public office, but arguably in hospitals for the criminally insane. They readily direct armed conflicts in which they will never have to fight but under the specter of nuclear war they act as if none of them have grandchildren. Those citizens who vote for them shoulder some of the responsibility for their misdeeds.
Repetitive actions over many years reveal real and perhaps irrepressible character. Most of Washington is locked in a war mindset from which there seems to be no escape. Any political opponents to this military folly—there are a few—would meet with substantial condemnation in the corporate media, and possibly assassination. In the past the many more responsible elements in U.S. society have failed to curb militarism, and will likely fail in the future. Realistically, permanent corrective change would seem very difficult if not impossible.
Carried continuously into the years ahead, an apocalypse would seem inevitable with, potentially, global consequences. Prudent governments elsewhere must embrace neutrality in the hope of being spared. At some time in the future the red button will be pushed, unleashing a co-reflexive exchange of carnage and mass destruction. The bloodied “winners” of World War III will be those nations that today lay the foundation for their survivors to rebuild from the ashes of the future. Those that manage to survive, if any, will emerge with a much needed—but costly—pacifist enlightenment. It is incumbent on responsible global citizens and leaders to work toward peace, but prepare for disaster.
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About the Author
Dr. Charles Johnston is an American-Canadian geographer and naval veteran.
His publications include, U.S. Militarism, Corporate Interests and World War III.
Charles can be reached at email@example.com.