Thursday, June 02, 2005

Congressman Carter, BRAC and Empire

When it comes to base closings, my only question about what is being done is to make sure that it’s in the best interest of the American people. Any logical person, I'm sure, would agree that every so often our military strategy needs to be looked over, changed, or refined. The problem comes when we have to decide whose vision of change we are going to follow.

Last month the Department of Defense (DoD) announced the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list. As you may or may not know, your congressman is not happy about what may happen to Fort Hood as a result of the recommendations. There are many, many items at play when it comes to what our President and the Secretary of Defense's vision is for our military. I do not want to go into all of those here, but suffice it to say that they have more of a global perspective than Congressman Carter, and for that matter Congressman Edwards, does. What I mean by this is that one of the main reasons this BRAC is occurring is because we are building new bases all over Iraq and central Asia. These bases will need to be staffed. Some personnel will come, probably, by moving some troops from Europe and Korea. Another reason the BRAC is occurring is because the US military is having serious trouble recruiting.

I know, what does this have to do with Williamson County? Well, this is one of those ‘big picture’ things again. I'm sure there are some economic benefits here in Williamson County from Fort Hood, but not near as much as our neighbors to the north in Bell, Coryell and McLennan counties receive by having the military and their families living and working and going to school in those areas. The base closing game as far as Congress is concerned always comes down to NIMBY (Not In My BackYard), meaning, this time, don't make cuts in "my backyard". Our congressman has a problem with what they are trying to do in his backyard, but not much of a problem with all of the other closings--I assume--since I can't find any statements by him on the others, which to me means he endorses the administration’s plans for the transformation of the US military which is occurring.

Will congressmen Carter and Edwards, along with their two Senate cohorts (Hutchison and Cornyn), be able to get the DoD to change its mind about Fort Hood? Your guess is as good as mine. But as long as we keep electing representatives that agree with the current administration and its plans for our country, it doesn't matter very much what they do. Have any of these people ever gone against this administration on national security or military matters? They will do what they are told to do by this administration. Like Texas is going to vote for a Democrat for president any time soon--or for US Senate, or Williamson County for congressman--that's what this administration is banking on. Congressman Carter may be against the President on this, but I've never heard him speak out against the overall plan and why this is occurring. He's just playing the NIMBY game and doesn't want this to cost him in an election. If President Bush cancels the cuts at Fort Hood, I would venture to guess you'll never hear another negative word about BRAC from Mr. Carter.

No one does a better job of keeping up with the subject of the American Empire than Tom Engelhardt. His latest item on this topic, Bases, Bases Everywhere, reminds us of that. Our military, if their plan is completed, will be a global empire of bases whose purpose is to protect American “interests” around the world.

Our current course in the United States is such that we think the only way to make sure we are safe and not attacked, is to keep an eye on everyone in the world, no matter the cost. The main cost is the huge decreased spending on anything domestic in order for this global conquest to continue. We can debate about a strong national defense and exactly what that should be and how it should come about, but that is not what is happening now. We need to understand that this is a trade off. We can be a global empire, but it will cost, and cost dearly. Is it worth horrible health care coverage for the less fortunate, the death of Social Security, a horrible education system? We need a change of leadership in this country and here in Williamson County is as good a place as any to start. What do you think?


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