Simply put, we spend over $400 billion a year on the current arrangement, and the bank's going to break before too long. At the same time, our economy rests on the positioning of our military might around the world to protect our dominance of world markets. In short, if we stay we risk economic collapse. If we go, we risk economic collapse.
Here's how we can protect our interests while scaling back our imperial policies. I'll throw some ideas out there, undoubtedly of varying quality or feasibility:
- Revise our status of forces agreements with friendly nations hosting our forces. It will require compromise on our part (namely giving more favorable economic positions to these friendly nations), but it will ultimately be the least costly. I propose giving full control, responsibility, and ownership of the military infrastructure we presently have in these countries to the host nations. In short, don't close down the bases: give them to the host nation. Develop trade and military treaties which give oversight of the region to these nations. If we empower them as partners and not client states, the imperial stench of our current policies will eventually begin to fade.
- Before turning our bases over to Korea, develop a four-way agreement with the United States, China, and North and South Korea to reunite Korea, guaranteeing economic and military autonomy and a "hands-off" promise from both China and the U.S. with regards to their internal affairs, but allowing agreements to be developed between the newly united Korea and any nation they choose. A united Korea will be a military and economic powerhouse in the region, and an alliance between Korea and the U.S. would be useful.
- Take the leash off of Japan and let them develop a viable military force. Not an imperial force, but allow them to take responsibility for their own defense. A combined alliance between Japan and Korea would potentially be enough to balance Chinese dominance of the region, especially if backed by an alliance with the U.S. -- as opposed to these nations functioning as neutered client states for the U.S. Balancing China is crucial, because they are showing signs of making the same mistakes we made in the past century.
- Develop a formal economic and military alliance with Russia. Turn the old Cold War paradigm on its head: instead of these two great powers competing and fighting proxy wars on foreign soil, have them work together in their respective halves of the world toward common interests, and ultimately peace in the world. Don't scrap NATO; redevelop it to meet post-Cold War needs. With the end of the Cold War, it makes the most sense for the U.S. and Russia to be partners, not two titans struggling for dominance.
- Ultimately, it should not simply be protection of U.S. economic interests we should seek. Rather, it should be a goal of world peace. There will always be nations who act out in aggression, but if the world's major powers begin working toward common cause and stop acts of aggression before they get out of hand, we can finally put an end to this process of perpetual war through all time.
But peace can only be assured when all parties have a common stake in it. If we continue to build our illusion of "peace and prosperity" on the backs of the poor, then it will never be sustainable. If we continue to deny one another that which we desire for ourselves, then none shall have it at all. There is a better way, but we can only find it by working together rather than at odds with one another. We cannot find it by withdrawing behind our fences and into our communities, by shutting out our neighbors or denying their existence and inherent self worth, regardless of their particular race, religion, lifestyle choices, or political persuasions. In short, we cannot find it simply within ourselves; we have to find it within each other.
And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's futures. And we are all mortal. -- President John F. Kennedy, June 10, 1963