Given America's unique world-leadership position, our limited economic means, and the world's reliance on our military might, we need to choose our battles thoughtfully. There are cases where the world supports our involvement (Darfur, Kosovo, Afghanistan), and places where they don't (Central America and Iraq). We can do whatever we want...but it sure makes things easier on everybody when we wield our might with the support of our friends and allies.
Perhaps the EU wouldn't have so much money for its infrastructure if it had to do its own fighting. But consider the flipside: By their judgment, sinking money into their infrastructure rather than into their military is better for their long-term security. In the European view, America is trapped in an inescapable cycle to feed its military-industrial complex: As we bulk up our military, we look for opportunities to make use of it. (When your only tool is a hammer, you treat every problem like a nail.) And then, when we employ our military unwisely, we create more enemies...which makes us feel the need to grow our military even more. If an American diplomat complained to his European counterpart, “America is doing all the heavy lifting when it comes to military,” the European might respond, “Well, you seem to be enjoying it. We're building roads and bridges instead."
Traveling affords a good opportunity to consider how American military might has helped make our world a better place — and how it hasn't — and what kind of fiscal and military policies make a society stronger and safer.
About This Entry
You are reading "The Cost of Policing the World", an entry posted on 07 August 2009 by Rick Steves.