US — the Global War Machine
by Vladimir Odintsov, Journal-NEO
In 2014, the Gallup Institute jointly with WIN published a report based on a sociological research conducted across 65 countries of the world. The most noteworthy parts of it was that 24% of respondents from different corners of the world regarded the US as the most serious danger to the security of the planet.
Only in the period from 1980, the US has waged wars of aggression against 14 Islamic countries (please, refer to ): Iran (1980, 1987-88), Libya (1981, 1986, 1989, 2011), Lebanon (1983), Kuwait (1991), Iraq (1991-2011, 2014), Somalia (1992-1993, 2002), Bosnia (1995), Saudi Arabia (1991, 1996), Afghanistan (1998, 2001), Sudan (1998), Kosovo (1999), Yemen (2000, 2002), Pakistan (2004), and currently the list has been extended with Syria.
In the last 15 years, almost 10 thousand American soldiers have been killed in the US military operations. Hundreds of thousands of citizens, the majority of whom are civilians, have fallen casualties to the US military actions only in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya.
According to the findings of scientists involved in the Uppsala University Conflict Data Program UCDP project, 2014 can, perhaps, be considered the bloodiest year in US military history from the end of Cold War. The stream of refugees has reached nearly 60 million people, with half of them being children.
As newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reports, 40 armed conflicts have been initiated in 27 different places of the planet in 2014, claiming the lives of more than 100 thousand people. The record high death toll in Syria’s war surpassed 50 thousand. This number exceeds the total number of deaths caused by the other 39 conflicts. Most of the time one of the parties to such conflicts is (directly or indirectly) supported by the US. The world has not seen so many military conflicts since 1999.
While bombing and destroying other states, the United States managed to create the largest army in terms of the number of military personnel: 1.3 million people serve in the US armed forces, with an additional 1 million—in the Army reserve. Currently, approximately 60 thousand American soldiers are deployed only in Europe. The United States Permanent Representative to NATO Douglas Lute has recently announced these numbers.
Only during this year, US Special Operations Forces participated in lending operations in 81 countries. Among other missions, they also carried out an advisory mission, instructing the local commandos on how to handle armed conflicts, so that American soldiers would not have to fight themselves. However, it should be noted that many of such units “instructed” by the US military personnel were later recruited by those very extremist groups, which the US had intended to combat.
Having created ultimately a global war machine, the US has 700 military bases in 63 countries worldwide, with the number of American soldiers deployed there being equal to 255 thousand.
The US is armed with 1,500 strategic nuclear warheads, 13 thousand warplanes, dozens of submarines, many of which carry nuclear warheads, and 88 destroyer warships.
The US allocates more money for military purposes than Russia, China, Great Britain, France, Germany and India combined. This amount is greater than the GDPs of almost 20 developed countries of the world. Today military budget of the United States equals to one third of the global military expenditures. The money that could be spent on much needed social programs is directed toward the overblown military budget. For example, just in two years 1.5 trillion dollars have been spent on the production of the F-35 fighter planes. This amount would be sufficient to fund the operation of all not-for-profit colleges for ten years (please, refer to). Since the beginning of 2001, 1.3 trillion U.S. taxpayer dollars were spent on the direct military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Since 2001, US military expenditures have increased by 50%—this amount is four times the cost of other articles of the national budget. It is not surprising then that 54% of Americans advocate for the reduction of federal defense spending. Rasmussen Reports, an American company conducting public opinion polls, forecasts that this summer the Congress of the US will engage in a prolonged battle over the issue of reduction of the country’s military budget.
It is for this reason that the US exerts best efforts to transfer the burden of military expenditure to its allies and, first of all, in Europe. For example, according to the estimates made by experts of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the defense spending in Estonia and Latvia will increase by 7.3% and 15% respectively in 2015. As for Lithuania, they forecast a 50% growth of military expenditures in 2015, to compare to a 6% increase in 2014. If in 2014 military budget of Poland grew by 13%, in 2015, according to the SIPRI forecast, this number will come up to 20%.
In the view of the current state of affairs, the world will continue to perceive the US as a threat for as long as Washington adheres to its policy of global interventionism.
Vladimir Odintsov, political commentator, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.