Washington DC: The Unnecessary and Unaffordable War Capital of the World, Part 3

The pivot from Republic to Empire circa 1949 remains evident even today----fully one-third of a century after the Cold War ended and the Soviet Empire was swept into the dustbin of history. As depicted in the chart below, the War Capital of the World still deploys 173,000 troops in 159 countries and maintains upwards of 750 bases in 80 countries. br>
Indeed, in some sense it's as if WWII never ended. As of 2020, Washington still had large military forces in places where they had arrived 75 years ago during the final span of WWII:
  • 119 bases and nearly 34,000 troops in Germany.
  • 44 bases and 12,250 troops in Italy.
  • 25 bases and 9,275 troops in the UK.
  • 120 bases and 53,700 troops in Japan.
  • 73 bases and 26,400 troops in South Korea
As we indicated in Part 2, the traditional post-war demobilization after 1945 would have wiped clean the above slate of Empire. But it was reversed in 1948-1949 when the Soviet Union got the A-bomb and Mao won the civil war in China. Thereafter, the spread of bases, troops, alliances, interventions and Forever Wars proceeded relentlessly on the grounds that the rickety communist states domiciled in Moscow and Beijing posed an existential threat to America's survival. br>
They did not. Not by a long shot. As the great Senator Robert Taft held at the time, the modest threat to homeland security presented by the war-ravaged corpus of the Soviet Union and the collectivist disaster imposed on China by Mao could have been readily handled with---
  •  An overwhelming strategic nuclear retaliatory capacity that would have deterred any possibility of nuclear attack or blackmail.
  •  A Fortress America conventional defense of the shorelines that would have been exceedingly easy to stand up, given that the Soviet Union had no Navy worth speaking of and China had devolved into industrial and agricultural anarchy owing to Mao's catastrophic experiments with collectivization.
That Taftian framework never did change through the end of the Cold War in 1991, even as the technology of nuclear and conventional warfare evolved apace. For modest military spending  Washington could have kept its nuclear deterrent fully effective and maintained a formidable Fortress defense of the homeland without any of the apparatus of Empire at all. And after 1991, the requirement would have been even less demanding. br>
That truth, of course, stands in sharp contradistinction to the hoary theory of collective security, which led to the establishment of NATO in 1949 and it regional clones thereafter. Yes, there were sizeable local communist parties in Italy and France in the late 1940s, and the Labor Party in England had a reddish hue. But the now open archives of the old Soviet Union prove conclusively that Stalin had neither the wherewithal n0r intention to invade western Europe.
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