At one point, there were something like 1,000 installations in Iraq and Afghanistan alone, from bases large enough to be small American towns to tiny combat outposts. In 2015, there were at least 800 significant U.S. bases in foreign countries (and more small camps and places where U.S. military equipment was pre-positioned for future use). No great power, not even Britain at its imperial height, had ever had such a global military “footprint,” such an “empire of bases,” and yet in this country it was as if no one noticed, as if it were of no importance at all.
Let’s start with a baseline look at the Pentagon’s finances at this moment. At $600 billion-plus per year, the government is already spending more money on the Pentagon than it did at the peak of the massive military buildup President Ronald Reagan initiated in the 1980s. In fact, despite what you might imagine, the Obama administration has pumped more tax dollars into the military in its two terms than did George W. Bush. According to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, the U.S. currently spends four times what China does and 10 times what the Russians sink into their military. Continue reading