We now have over half a million military personnel serving on more than 737 military bases all over the world. These bases are on more than 130 countries. According to the late military scholar, Chalmers Johnson, these bases facilitate the “policing” of the globe and are meant to ensure that no other nation, friendly or hostile, can ever challenge us militarily. He predicts that military spending will “sooner or later…threaten our nation with bankruptcy.” Many would argue that a strong military is necessary because it is a deterrent to potential adversaries. Really? Then explain to me why our tax-payer-funded military bases include a ski center, over 200 military golf courses, dozens of luxury jets, and many luxury hotels. Conservatives like to compare government (public) workers (such as military personnel and Wisconsin teachers) with private workers, insisting, for instance, that Wisconsin teacher, police, and firefighters’ pensions and wages are too generous compared to what private workers are paid (to justify why unions should be crushed). So I am sure they will not want to make the argument that military personnel should have private golf courses and other superfluous luxuries that those in the private sector do not enjoy.
The history of U.S. relations with Latin America is a story of imperialism, exploitation, and crimes against humanity. Eduardo Galeano’s book, “Open Veins of Latin American,” is an excellent introduction to this history. Greg Grandin’s 2006 book, “Empire’s Workshop,” and Naomi Klein’s more-recent book, “The Shock Doctrine,” cover issues of modern economic and military imperialism in the region. From the Monroe Doctrine to the School of the Americas, the tax dollars of U.S. citizens have been used to sell arms to cruel militias, install and uphold brutal dictators, train anti-communist insurgencies in torture methods, implement trade policies that increase extreme poverty and inequality, and undermine democratic movements. But there are hopeful signs on the horizon.