The American Military Paradox

In 1949, the U.S. War Department changed its name.

Branches of the armed forces were then administered under the new name '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 Russia 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 tonnes 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 attack. The large size of the U.S. would make it very difficult to conquer, and occupy if conquered. Also, the 200 million privately owned firearms in the U.S. 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.

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 336,000,000 this is a cost of $2,506 for each U.S. resident. The military budget of the U.S. is more than the GDP of 90 percent 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 complex has a threefold purpose: to maintain war industry profiteering, 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 are patently obvious 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, across vast oceans, where it also maintains 750 military bases at an enormous cost. 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.

Socialism has been a principal target of U.S. militarism. It is defined as the public ownership of the principal and essential means of production. Large industries such as oil, transportation, pharmaceuticals, banking, health care, 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.

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 North Russian Expedition. 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 is do nations have the right to choose between them? Washington does not think so.

A fundamental fact of modern history is that the United States and its often-invented 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. Furthermore, information from the U.S. Congressional Research Service reveals that the number of American armed actions has been substantially increasing over the last few decades. From earlier historic roots in Christian pacificism and a peaceful humanism the U.S. has transitioned into a very warlike country.

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 in which the perception of a threat is more acute. Any war initiated by the U.S. could rapidly accelerate into a nuclear confrontation. 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. Rev. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s thesis states that stupidity is more dangerous than evil because stupidity can be manipulated and used by evil. 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 positive of their lack of sufficient intellect and good judgment.

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. These cerebral deficiencies, and their potential consequences, will continue.

Douglas MacArthur was a five-star U.S. General of the Army in World War II. He noted 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.

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. Washington’s sociopathic indifference to the ravages of war – death, destruction, dismembered children and devastated families – is proof that many of those in its leadership do not belong in public office, but arguably in hospitals for the criminally insane. They readily direct wars in which they will never have to fight. 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 is a few - would meet with substantial condemnation in the mass media, and possibly assassination. Realistically, permanent corrective change would seem very difficult if not impossible.

Carried unendingly into the years ahead, an apocalypse would seem inevitable, with potentially global consequences. Sometime in the future, the red button will be pushed, unleashing a co-reflexive exchange of carnage and mass destruction. The bloodied “winner” of World War III will be that nation which today lays the foundation for its few survivors to rebuild from the ashes of the future. Those that manage to survive, if any, will emerge with a much needed but costly enlightenment. It is incumbent on responsible global citizens and leaders to work toward peace, but prepare for disaster.


Charles Johnston, Ph.D., is an American-Canadian geographer and naval veteran. His publications include U.S. Militarism, Corporate Interests and World War III.

Image: Clker-Free-Vector-Images /, via FreeIMG // Pixabay License

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