In the face of major shifts in the distribution and balance of power, the United States’ supremacy and its global leadership is floundering, according to retired Maj. Gen. Dennis Laich.
Laich addressed about 100 people on Feb. 23 during the latest edition of the community’s Great Decisions 2018 program.
When the United States emerged from WWII, a global order was formed that reflected the values and beliefs, as well as the best interests, of the United States. The U.S was in a position to become one of the largest standing powers, challenged only by the former Soviet Union.
Today, global engagement by the military is changing and being questioned, Laich said. In turn, that has changed the global balance of power. And, he said, the U.S. has rebalanced it interests.
Part of that change is due to “maturation of the U.S as a world power and the other one is that there are other countries in the world that are rapidly accelerating in terms of their power and influence,” Laich said. He listed Russia, China, India and Brazil among those countries.
Until recently, global engagement followed a U.S. imperialistic policy. The U.S. military policed the world and passed that off as defense, Laich said. And that’s why the government spends at least $700 billion annually on defense.
The military is a huge drain on the U.S. treasury, and no one has noticed or tracked it. The U.S. has a military budget greater than the next 14 countries combined, some of whom are allies of the U.S. He said that kind of spending is unsustainable.
Laich said for the first time in decades, an audit of military funding found $800 billion missing. He also said the current volunteer military does not recruit enough young men and women to be sustainable, and it unfairly targets the poor.
The U.S. is isolating itself from the rest of the world by backing out of diplomatic solutions, such as trade agreements, Laich said, and opting for military ones.
“We will be constrained in terms of the military options by both manpower as a result of the volunteer force and by the budget that we have,” Laich said.
“It was very good, very honest and very poignant,” John Kovalcik, a retired veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, said of Laich’s presentation. “I just wish more people could hear what he has to say and understand how serious everything is right now.”
Of the series, attendee Blake Michael, an OWU professor of religion, said, “It’s providing a service for the community for the people who understand world issues from people who have dealt with it on such a close level, like Dennis has.”
Laich retired from the Army in 2006 after more than 35 years of service.
Great Decisions 2018 is Delaware’s free community discussion series about current U.S. foreign policy. It runs every Friday at noon through March 23 at the William Street United Methodist Church, 28 W. William St.
Ohio Wesleyan University Professor Mary Howard will speak about the progress and challenges of global health at the next installment of the Great Decisions series on March 2.
Jesse Sailer is a junior at Ohio Wesleyan University.