Ann Wright served 29-years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves, retired as a colonel and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval War College. She was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and resigned from the U.S. government in 2003 in opposition to the U.S. war on Iraq. She is the co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”
This year's theme of the Veterans for Peace annual Peacestock is "Military Service: Homeland Security or Empire Building?" As a 29-year veteran of the U.S. Army/Army Reserves, I think the question is valid. While we call our military the Department of Defense, is it really defending the "homeland" or has it been involved in military actions that have not made our country safer, but instead, have jeopardized its security by attempted expansion of America's influence by military means?
Some argue that the U.S. must invade and occupy countries to prevent other nations from having influence, saying that that influence is a danger, a national security threat, to the United States.
Other countries take a different approach to gaining influence, an approach that does not kill the inhabitants of the "target" country, but instead brings them economic development opportunities. However, instead of using economic development, the U.S. is using economic warfare, killing civilians through sanctions on countries that will not bow to the will of the U.S. either on issues of nuclear weapons (Iran and Cuba) or socialist/non-capitalist systems (Cuba, Venezuela and to some extent Nicaragua.)
After World War II, the U.S. used that approach to many countries through its U.S. AID programs, although our military is known throughout the world for its invasion of other countries including Vietnam, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Grenada, the Philippines and Nicaragua and sponsoring proxy wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua.
In the 21st century, the U.S. AID programs have become smaller as the U.S. has spent more and more on its invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq and on its assassin drones network that has targeted and killed people that the U.S. has designated as jeopardizing its national security in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Mali, Libya, Syria. Faulty intelligence resulted in the assassin drones killing many innocent women, children and elderly in wedding parties, funerals and vehicles that has fueled resentment against the U.S.
In contrast, the U.S.'s biggest challenger, China, has taken a different strategy. In the 21st century, instead of spending trillions in wars, China is spending its money on helping develop transportation opportunities for itself though its One Belt-One Road initiative. China is building a network of railways and ports across South Asia, Africa and on to Europe to transport goods, minerals and other resources it gains access to by its non-military approach.
For one-fifth less than the $5.6 trillion that Brown University's Costs of War project estimated that the U.S. spent from 2001 to 2018 on its wars (each taxpayer spent $23,386), more than 60 countries that have more than two-thirds of the world's population either have Chinese projects or are interested in them.
China is enhancing its national security by its economic policies, not by its military policies which seems to be the favorite strategy of the U.S. In the global war of influencing other nations.