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World's Sole Military Superpower's 2 Million-Troop, $1 Trillion Wars

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opednews.com Headlined to H2 12/24/09

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With a census of slightly over 300 million in a world of almost seven billion people, the U.S. accounts for over 40 percent of officially acknowledged worldwide government military spending with a population that is only 4 percent of that of the earth's. A 10-1 disparity.

In addition to its 1,445,000 active duty service members, the Pentagon can and does call upon 1.2 million National Guard and other reserve components. As many as 30% of troops that have served in Afghanistan and Iraq are mobilized reservists. The Army National Guard has activated over 400,000 soldiers since the war in Afghanistan began and in March of 2009 approximately 125,000 National Guard and other reserve personnel were on active duty.

The Defense Department also has over 800,000 civilian employees at home and deployed worldwide. The Pentagon, then, has more than 3.5 million people at its immediate disposal excluding private military contractors.

After allotting over a trillion dollars for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq alone and packing off more than two million of its citizens to the two nations, the U.S. military establishment and peace prize president have already laid the groundwork for yet more wars. Boeing, Raytheon and General Electric won't be kept waiting.
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In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech on December 10, the president of the United States appropriated for his country the title of "the world's sole military superpower" and for himself "the Commander-in-Chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars."

This may well have been the first time that an American - and, of course, any - head of state in history boasted of his nation being the only uncontested military power on the planet and unquestionably the only time a Nobel Peace Prize recipient identified himself as presiding over not only a war but two wars simultaneously.

As to the appropriateness of laying such claims in the venue and on the occasion he did - accepting the world's preeminent peace award before the Norwegian Nobel Committee - Barack Obama at least had the excuse of being perfectly accurate in his contentions.

He is in fact the commander-in-chief in charge of two major and several smaller wars and his nation is without doubt the first global military power which for decades has operated without constraints on five of six inhabited continents and has troops stationed in all six. United States armed forces personnel and weapons, including nuclear arms, are stationed at as many as 820 installations in scores of nations.

The U.S. has recently assigned thousands of troops to seven new bases in Bulgaria and Romania [1], deployed the first foreign troops to Israel in that nation's history to run an interceptor missile radar facility in the Negev Desert [2], and last week signed a status of forces agreement with Poland for Patriot missiles (to be followed by previously ship-based Aegis Standard Missile-3s interceptors) and U.S. soldiers to be stationed there. The troops will be the first foreign forces based in Poland since the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991.

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The U.S., whose current military budget is at Cold War, which is to say at the highest of post-World War II, levels, also officially accounts for over 41% of international military spending according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's report on 2008 figures: $607 billion of $1.464 trillion worldwide. On October 28 President Obama signed the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act with a price tag of $680 billion, including $130 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

That figure excludes military spending outside of the Department of Defense. The American government has for several decades been the standard-bearer in outsourcing to private sector contractors in every realm and the Pentagon is certainly no exception to the practice. According to some estimates, American military and military-related allotments in addition to the formal Pentagon budget can bring annual U.S. defense spending as high as $1.16 trillion, almost half of official expenditures for all of the world's 192 nations, including the U.S., last year.

With a census of slightly over 300 million in a world of almost seven billion people, the U.S. accounts for over 40 percent of officially acknowledged worldwide government military spending with a population that is only 4 percent of that of the earth's. A 10-1 disparity.

The U.S. also has the world's second largest standing army, over 1,445,000 men and women under arms according to estimates of earlier this year, second only to China with 2,255,000. China has a population of over 1.325 billion, more than four times that of America, and does not have a vast army of private contractors supplementing its armed forces. And of course unlike the U.S. it has no troops stationed abroad. India, with a population of 1.140 billion, has active duty troop strength smaller than that of the U.S. at 1,415,000.

The U.S. and Britain are possibly alone in the world in deploying reservists to war zones; this last February the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen acknowledged that 600,000 reserves have been called up to serve in the area of responsibility of the U.S. Central Command, in charge of the Afghan and Iraqi wars, since 2001. In addition to its 1,445,000 active duty service members, the Pentagon can and does call upon 1.2 million National Guard and other reserve components. As many as 30% of troops that have served in Afghanistan and Iraq are mobilized reservists. The Army National Guard has activated over 400,000 soldiers since the war in Afghanistan began and in March of 2009 approximately 125,000 National Guard and other reserve personnel were on active duty.

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The Defense Department also has over 800,000 civilian employees at home and deployed worldwide. The Pentagon, then, has more than 3.5 million people at its immediate disposal excluding private military contractors.

In the last 48 hours two unprecedented thresholds have been crossed. On the morning of December 19 the U.S. Senate met in a rare Saturday morning session to approve a $636.3 billion military budget for next year. The vote was 88-10, as the earlier vote by the House of Representatives on December 16 was 395-34. In both cases the negative votes were not necessarily an indication of opposition to war spending but part of the labyrinthine American legislative practices of trade-offs, add-ons and deal-making on other, unrelated issues, what in the local vernacular are colorfully described as horse-trading and log-rolling among other choice terms. A no vote in the House or Senate, then, was not automatically a reflection of anti-war or even fiscally conservative sentiments.

The Pentagon appropriation included another $101 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (Obama signed the last formal Iraq and Afghanistan War Supplemental Appropriations, worth $106 billion, in July), but did not include the first of several additional requests, what are termed emergency spending measures, for the Afghan war. The first such request is expected early next year, more than $30 billion for the additional 33,000 U.S. troops to be deployed to the war zone, which will increase the number of American forces there to over 100,000.

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/

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