Globalization refers to the process in which individuals, corporations, and governments of different countries integrate and interact. Globalization is based on international trade and investments. Militarism is the belief that a nation has to develop a robust military capability and should be able to utilize this capability to aggressively defend its national interests. In militarism, the military and ideal military professional traits are glorified. War can be defined as an armed conflict between groups of people. War is characterized by excessive aggression, mortality, and destruction of property. This essay examines the relationship between globalization, militarism, and war in relation to military interventions by the United States.
The United States has developed a military empire with unrivaled capabilities. With this capability, it remains as the only superpower in the world. With a military budget exceeding the military budget of all the industrialized nations combined, the US has developed a military capability to strike any part of the earth. Although the world is living in peaceful times where there is no imminent threat to the existence of the United States, the US military spending is still skyrocketing (Parenti 137). The US has deployed thousands of nuclear weapons aiming at the former Soviet Union, a threat which no longer exists. The US is also increasing its number of sites targeted by nuclear missiles with new sites in countries considered as threats such as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. It also has deployed hundreds of thousands of military personnel in hundreds of oversea bases (137). This deployment aims at total domination of the world.
With more than $850 billion spent by the US military in 2010, the US spends more on its military than on health care, education and housing combined. The U.S. government also runs a Foreign Military Financing Program, which gives billions of dollars a year to other countries to purchase weaponry from U.S. firms (Parenti 138). The purchase of these weapons is subsidized by the American tax payer.
According to Parenti (139), the US Department of Defenses (DoD) arms procurement process is rife with profiteering and fraud. He further approximates that about a quarter of the DoD spending cannot be accounted for (139). Military spending lack transparency and proper oversight and thus funds are prone to be misused and misappropriated. The Government Accountability Office reported that it could not account for 200 billion used in the Iraq war (Parenti 140). It also reported that contractors were overcharging for fuel and other supplies while delivering substandard supplies. It is this lack of transparency that defense contractors thrive in. It enables these corporations to make supernormal profits by overcharging and providing low-quality products. With huge profits, they become wealthy and with the wealth they become policy-makers in the United States.
While military personnel suffers due to substandard meals and equipment, the defense contractors benefit immensely. These contractors use cost plus contracts in which they charge the Department of Defense whatever the cost they incur plus guaranteed profits. With no penalties incurred for failure, wasteful projects earn more profits to the contractors. The US taxpayer is overcharged even for small items such as light bulbs. The corporations working for DoD access free subsidies such as land and access to free research and development. Some such as weapon developers have a guaranteed market where they set their own prices. This exorbitant bill is charged to the US tax payer.
For decades, The US corporations have invested heavily in third world countries (Parenti 143). Low taxes, lack of environmental regulations, low labor costs and low occupational safety costs have been the main attraction. The US government encourages these investments by offering tax subsidies and compensation due to losses arising from war or confiscation of corporation's assets by foreign governments (143). These multinationals do very little to improve the standard of living of the people in third world countries. They exploit them with low wages and employment of minors. The transnationals push out local businesses and preempt their markets (143). This leads to joblessness in those countries.
The US military offers military aid to countries where US corporations have enormous investments. The military aid includes training and equipping law enforcement agencies to not only protect the country from external enemies but also protect the American corporations and their investments from their own population. These third world nations are also offered huge subsidies in developing key infrastructure such as ports and roads that required by these corporations.
The US government intervenes militarily in countries on the pretext of fighting terrorism, eradicating drug trafficking and promoting democracy and rule of law. However, on closer examination, it is revealed that the interventions aim to prevent social change that may hinder capitalism (Parenti 146). The US government overthrew popular governments in Iran, the Congo, Guatemala, Brazil etc. because they had policies that benefited low-class citizens. In these countries, the US installed a regime that was inconsiderate to the needs of the citizens but accommodating to US investors. Panama and Grenada were invaded in 1980s by the US to replace their reformist governments with governments favoring free markets (146). In both Panama and Granada, the governments which were overthrown were popular and were redirecting some of their resources towards the needs of their citizens in education health care and development of infrastructure. With the neglect in the welfare of the destitute class citizens by the new governments, drugs and crime increased exponentially in Panama and Granada.
The military interventions neglected the will of the people of the third world countries. Democratic governments were removed because their policies were not benignant to American multinationals. The US also funded militias in Nicaragua that lead to widespread death of civilians and destruction of property and key utilities such as schools and hospitals (Parenti 149). US-funded Indonesian army attacked East Timor and massacred almost a third of its population. These attacks aimed at opening up the markets and providing raw materials to US corporations. The Americans hoped to achieve these aims no matter the cost of lives to the natives.
In US plutocracy is practiced (Parenti 151). In the plutocracy system, the ruling class consists of the wealthy. The policies of the country are made up mainly by representatives of big corporations and prominent law firms. Top positions including the presidency, cabinet members and top government advisors are reserved for the elites (151). However, in the US, the background class of a leader is not as important as the class the leader serves. Moderately wealthy individuals such as Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon have become the president by proving that they can properly serve the wealthy class.
Policy advisory groups also play a vital role in running the United States. These groups consist of representatives of the wealthiest American corporations such as the Morgan and the Rockefeller groups (152). Thus, it is almost certain that the elite will use this opportunity to cater for their interests in the pretext of national interests. These interests may involve sanctions and war against governments whose policies hinder operations of these US corporations and coercion of countries to sign treaties which enhance the business environment for the corporations.
According to Parenti (152), the most important advisory group is the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) which was formed in 1918. CFR is funded by multinational corporations together with media groups and financial institutions. The CFR has had considerable influence on the economic and foreign policy of the United States. The Marshall Plan, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are all creations of the CFR (Parenti, 153). All these projects involved provision of funds to developing countries with aim of opening them up to American multinationals. All grants and loans were offered with conditions that free trade will be guaranteed. CFR is too powerful such that its policies such as high spending on military and war on terror have become national policies of the US.
In summary, United States has developed a strong military capable of striking any point of the earth. This military, undisputedly, has made the US as the only superpower in the world. With the greatest military capability in the world, the US does not shy away from using this capability to promote its foreign policies. However, the ruling class in the US is made up of the wealthy. These people are willing to use state power to promote their personal interests. Thus, the US multinational corporations use the US military strength and wars to pursue their own interests no matter the cost to civilians of other countries.
Parenti, Michael. Democracy for the few. 9th ed. Boston: Thomson-Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.
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