Defunding a superpower

All this talk about defunding the war and asking the democrats to do it. Turns out, we can't continue to fund it anyway. Michael Ventura has another interesting essay on the state of America called Superpower? Really?

Look at our debt.

It's been widely reported that we are, by far, the world's biggest debtor nation. The Week (June 8, p.20): "Including unfunded promises made for Medicare, Social Security, and federal retirement programs, U.S. taxpayers have a total debt of $59 trillion. That's $516,000 for every U.S. household."

Who holds that debt?

Which brings us to China, our primary banker. The New York Times (April 14, p.C3): "Last year, when Treasury debt increased by $184 billion, almost half of that amount ... was provided by lenders in China. ... China [is] the largest source of funding for the United States government's deficits." The article reports that our Federal Reserve bought 20% of "our newly issued bonds" and that "only 4% of the [total] money came from American investors and institutions" (my italics). Which totals only 24% coming from American sources. Without the present level of foreign investment, especially Chinese investment, America would be in very bad straits.

Why are they doing that? Why are they financing our war?

It's in their strategic interest to finance a war that drains America's financial, military, and leadership clout. They're paying for us to screw ourselves. It saves them the trouble. However, given the irresponsibility of America's military adventures and the equal irresponsibility of the American electorate in elevating someone like George W. Bush to power, why would China and the other investing nations finance the rebuilding of America's military might? How could that possibly be in their interest - especially now that the euro has overtaken the dollar as a viable medium for world exchange? Hence China and others are making obvious moves to invest differently. We're about to be left behind.

And that leaves us...

We're still dangerous, with all our bombs and missiles. But we won't be fighting another ground war anytime soon, and everybody knows it. Financially and militarily, we're no superpower anymore - though no presidential candidate can say that. Whether we recede from center stage gracefully or destructively, we'll recede. We already have. It doesn't look that way on TV, but we already have.

Oh my. We are irreparably broken. Our military is in shambles.

Colin Powell, quoted in Time (April 16, p.30): "The active Army is about broken." The Washington Post (March 19, p.1): "Senior U.S. military and government officials acknowledge ... that it will take years for the Army and Marine Corps to recover from what some officials privately have called a 'death spiral,' in which the ever more rapid pace of war-zone rotations has consumed 40% of their total gear, wearied troops, and left no time to train. ... The U.S. military now lacks a large strategic reserve of ground troops ready to respond quickly and decisively to potential foreign crises. ... The vast majority [of Army units in the United States] are rated 'not ready.'" The Post article reports the reactions of several congressmen to a classified military briefing. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz, D-Texas: "I have seen the classified-only reports. And based on those reports, I believe that we as a nation are at risk of major failure, should our Army be called to deploy to an emerging threat." Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C.: "This nation has got to replenish and fix what is soon going to be broken." Finally, the Post goes on: "Under current ... plans, it will take two to three years after the Iraq war ends [my italics] ... to restore ... equipment levels. It will take five years and at least $75 billion for the Army to increase its active-duty ranks [as planned] up to 547,000 soldiers."

What are we going to do? What will become of us? I know I'm not counting on money to save me. Just trying to find some land to take care of and some friends and community to hang with. Don't look to America to save you anymore. America is broken.

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