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Why isn’t the US seeking global disarmament?

June 12, 2019

Suppose China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and every other country in the world went to the United Nations and offered to substantially and verifiably disarm. Nuclear and non-nuclear weapons, tanks, planes, ships, armies, everything that could be a threat to another country, keeping only the bare minimum needed for the legitimate defense of their national borders. The proposal would be contingent on the United States doing the same. Putting aside the complex details and the exact methods that would be needed for ongoing verification, should the US in principle go along? If no, then why not? If yes, then why doesn’t the US make this proposal today?

I don’t think there’s any political question more important than this yet we never hear it posed. On the contrary, we’re perpetually bombarded with an endless bipartisan discourse telling us we need to forever spend hundreds of billions of dollars on the military to protect against the coming ‘great power’ contest with China and Russia and, more generally, to ‘prepare for the wars of the 21st century’.

This is simply ludicrous. The very idea of war with countries like China and Russia is crazy for it poses the real possibility, indeed probability, of a catastrophe on the scale of what happened to the dinosaurs. We also know from the results of military war games that the US consistently loses wars with Russia and China and that they quickly escalate to nuclear exchanges. That the US would not ‘win’ such a war is historically self-evident as well given its abject failure in its past adventures with the poor under-developed countries of North Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. We (and others) seem addicted to the manly power game of nationalist military adventure but it’s nothing but an outlandishly dangerous and wasteful relic of the pre-20th century world. We need to move on–have we learned nothing from World Wars I and II?

Given the absence of a US proposal, I think we can safely assume the answer to the opening question will be no. But this puts defenders of the US superpower state in an awkward position for it’s extremely difficult (impossible) to come up with a civilized reason for maintaining such power in the absence of a threat.

Beyond the immeasurable benefits of a peaceful world, the average American would enormously gain by redirecting US spending from the military to normal civilian purposes. Imagine if the current $700+ billion military budget were slashed to perhaps the $20 billion or less range that would be justified by the actual defense needs existing in a disarmed world, with the savings then put to building a prosperous country.

I think we should all ask our elected officials and candidates for office why we aren’t pushing for global disarmament?

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