June 2, 2015
Since the start of the 20th Century, not counting secret operations, there have been over 120 US military aggressions, an average of more than one a year. In Central America and the Caribbean alone, the US has intervened militarily: 6 times in Cuba, 4 times in the Dominican Republic, twice in El Salvador, once in Grenada, 3 times in Guatemala, 4 times in Haiti, 7 times in Honduras, 3 times in Mexico, 6 times in Nicaragua, 8 times in Panama, and twice in Puerto Rico.
There are more than 865 US military bases abroad in more than 63 countries. In 2011, 20% of the US federal budget, or $718 billion, went to defense and security-related activities, representing 41% of the world’s military budget. The US Navy is larger than the combined navies of the next 13 countries, 11 of which are US allies. The US maintains 5,113 nuclear warheads, enough to exterminate humankind a few times over. Right now, the US is engaged in at least 6 theaters of war: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and the Congo.
These are staggering statistics. But they only represent what many have called “the iron fist behind the invisible hand of the Free Market.” The US military is the enforcement arm of US economic policy: the composite of “investor friendly” policies, coerced, through financial crises and the accumulation of state debt, onto working peoples all over the world. These “neoliberal” policies include privatization of state services, austerity plans, reductions in wages and living standards, cutbacks in pensions, cutbacks in education, cutbacks in healthcare, cutbacks in social services, union busting, Free Trade Zones, WTO enforced free trade agreements… all ushered in under the guise of balancing budgets. The burden of state debt is being used to achieve the objectives of colonial invasions in prior centuries. These policies are being pushed through under the cover of a global war on terror, which equates dissenters to terrorists. All of this while the rich get tax breaks, global financial corporations get bailouts, giant multinationals get tax heavens, and CEOs get million-dollar bonuses.
These policies have wreaked misery on working people throughout the “third world” and are now striking workers in industrialized nations, as we see happening in Greece, throughout Europe and even here in the US. Finally, as the threat of catastrophic environmental change collides with bursting economic bubbles and rising global popular unrest, working people are becoming the targets of an increasingly repressive surveillance state.
While most of America’s population has been brainwashed into believing that the U.S. is a “good cop” worldwide peacekeeper and a defender of democracy, that “humanitarian interventions” are aimed at saving masses from massacre and disasters, and that US aid is geared to helping starving masses, the facts prove quite the contrary. For over a century, the U.S. has been and is still today the leading international imperialist aggressor. And now, with the global war on terror, drone warfare, with a joint strike force of special operations forces, signature strikes against “enemy combatants” defined in combat zones as any male over 14 years of age, secret kill lists, NSA global surveillance, the militarization of local police forces and anti-terror legislation that can be secretly interpreted in secret courts and used to detain and repress almost anyone they choose to target, the tools of repression and oppression have been honed for both inside and outside the US.