I recently heard Jim Talent from the Heritage Foundation on the radio, pushing something he called "The 4% Solution," which was basically a call for vast increases in arms spending. He claimed that America's failures in Iraq were due to outdated equipment, and that if we wanted peace and prosperity in the world we would be pumping cash into Lockheed Martin etc...
His deeper claim was that America is the world's police man, and that we needed to maintain absolute dominance over the rest of the worlds' militaries if we wanted a well-policed globe. Leaving aside the incredible arrogance behind that claim, or the fact that there's no reason to believe that America, with 5% of the world's population and a shrinking proportion of global GDP, is going to be able to maintain a higher military budget than the rest of the world indefinitely, AND the fact that we'd essentially be rewarding military contractors for rampant corruption and incompetence in Iraq with a huge infusion of government cash, there's the fact that if we're the world's policemen we're doing a piss poor job.
The women of the congo need help. They're having their insides literally ripped out by gangs of armed men. Their government can't protect them, the U.N. is 'keeping the peace' the same way the U.N. always 'keeps the peace,' by doing shit all. If the world has a policeman he should be poking his head down there to say "Hey you, boys, cut out all that rapin'." But the world doesn't have a policeman.
The United States Government and population has no taste for sending soldiers to areas like the Congo, where there aren't particular strategic gains to be made. We never have. Remember "Operation Restore Hope" in Mogadishu? We lost 18 soldiers, not even a statistical blip in a real war, and the press went apeshit. America's not going to go down to the Congo or Darfur, let alone some place like Burma where the government can keep reporters from talking about what's actually happening.
Jim Talent and the Heritage Foundation want two things. They want to funnel money to military contractors and they want America to be able to achieve STRATEGIC goals more easily in the future. They care about securing resources and bullying other countries that they can get something from. But they won't admit that. They talk about security and peace and meanwhile the women of the Congo are being ripped apart and nobody's going to do shit about it.
This isn't supposed to be happening in 2007. The Cold War is over, the evil empire has fallen, and now the Western powers are supposed to be strong enough to keep parts of the world from disintegrating into hell. But the truth is we don't care. We read our articles, shake our heads, say "That's terrible, I wish someone would do something" and if someone tries to spend some tax dollars DOING something we say "Hold on, now. Let's not get CRAZY!"
We don't have the empathy to think about the lives of these people and say "This cannot continue. They are human."
It should be the job of the U.N., but the U.N. can't do anything. It's too open to murderous repressive governments to actually act against murder and repression. What we need is a NATO like group of specific countries with the will and resources to put these situations in order. What do we have instead?
Something very close to hell on earth.