Samuelson is simply wrong about our nation’s military

In his March 12 column (“Defunding defense”) economist Robert Samuelson suggests that America’s planned military reductions are misguided. He’s wrong.

First: Even after these cuts, America will continue to spend more on its military than all other nations of the earth combined.

Let us ask precisely how may our military, the greatest in history, be successfully deployed?

Consider our experiences in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Look to the post-World War II histories of every other nation on earth. Britain and France, winners of World War II, still lost every colony. The USSR could not retain in its orbit even its nearest neighbors, the militarily inconsequential nations of the East Bloc: Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, East Germany. Like us, the USSR could not dominate small, destitute Afghanistan.

Question: If the two most powerful militaries in the history of mankind cannot subdue Afghanistan, just how effective are militaries these days, anyway?

The right wing constantly admonishes us: “Beware the rise of the next Hitler!” But the larger lesson of World War II is this: The Age of the Empire is over for all time.

There can be no more Hitlers, and no more empires, for two reasons: 1) no nation can afford the costs (in lives and money) necessary to maintain an empire and 2) No civilized people on earth will ever again believe that other people are “sub-human,” a precept requisite for the commission of atrocities.

We continue planning to fight last century’s battles. We ignore the march of history, which has turned away from nations projecting their militaries across the globe.

Samuelson is wrong.

We can afford to scale back our military. Lasting peace, prosperity and goodwill can be far more effectively purchased by redirecting much of the military’s budget toward, say, the Peace Corps. Preparing for endless “police actions” from which we must inevitably extricate ourselves has proven ineffective.

Robert F. Biniszkiewicz