Andrea Simon

Professor Ramos

English 1B

11 September 2018

The United States is spending billions of dollars each year to keep its status as a world power afloat. It influences foreign governments and economies to protect world peace and their political views. Many believe that the United States must maintain a solid symbol of power in order to reduce war and poverty. But the United States is overreaching with its power by destroying other countries’ economies and peace. They are ignoring the problems they have at home such as high healthcare costs and high educational costs. The solution to this problem would be to remove a significant amount of soldiers from foreign countries/wars, decrease the national defense budget, and stop giving aid to foreign countries, in order to first fix the problems at home before trying to fix everyone else’s.

The United States currently has, “now has just over 240,000 active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories” (America’s). That sounds like a lot of soldiers outside of the United States, reducing the amount of soldiers in general would bring them out of danger and save the United States millions. Money that could be used elsewhere. Not only that but in 2017, “for instance, 11 American service members died in Afghanistan and 14 in Iraq” (America’s). And, “Tens of thousands of civilians also perished at the hands of various combatants” (America’s). There are often many more civilian casualties, and by increasing American boots on the ground, would most likely cause more civilian casualties to occur. Money and lives could be saved by bringing home a significant amount of soldiers.

The United States Congress just passed a new budget for the 2019 fiscal for the Department of Defense which, “authorizes a $717 billion” (FY19). Why would the military need that much money? Last year, “the United States spent $623 billion on national defense” (Stein). And that money seems to be, “3.5 percent of its gross domestic product” (Stein), which is higher than most European military budgets which are, “less than 2 percent” (Stein). That is a large margin. Most European countries are okay without having such a large military spending budget. The money could go elsewhere. The United States was okay last year, so why would they need to increase the budget when the United States is not being directly attacked?

aid(Swanson)

The chart above details the amount of aid given vs. the recipient’s GDP growth. And the the findings are not very well matched. In theory the more aid a country would receive the better off a country would be. But that is clearly not the case in this graph. The more aid that is given the worse the country becomes as a whole. “Citing Africa researcher Alex de Waal, Deaton writes that “aid can only reach the victims of war by paying off the warlords, and sometimes extending the war.”” (Swanson). By giving aid to other countries currently at war, they are by definition extending the suffering causing the GDP to slide down further. “In 2011, the U.S. spent about $50 billion on foreign aid, most of which going to Middle Eastern and African countries. While some of this money is military aid ($17.9 billion), a larger portion was spent on economic aid ($31.7 billion)” (Should). Who is this economic aid going to? “Asres was “one of the most repressive and autocratic dictators in Africa,” Deaton writes…Western countries stopped giving aid to Taya after his government became too politically repressive, but he managed to get the taps turned on again by becoming one of the few Arab nations to recognize Israel” (Swanson). Aid from wealthier countries is used to promote their own views, while in the process letting a dictator rule a country and possibly ruining the GDP of that country, causing it to ask for more aid. It is this vicious circle of aid and war prolonging the suffering of the people in poor countries.

What could the United States do with all that extra money instead? The U.S. could, “wipe out “all student loan debt” in the country, relieving 43 million student loan borrowers from their debt burdens. Polis says it would cost about $1.4 trillion”(Stein). Or they, ““could completely eliminate the uninsured [population] in the U.S. and still have plenty of money left over,” Levitt said” (Stein). Insuring more people would increase the lifespan of people leading to more well educated individuals with the free education, listed before, would put the U.S. in a even better position in the educational standing of the world. The, “United States could build 10 million new housing units for about $1.85 trillion. Doing so would dramatically expand the housing supply for poor and working-class Americans, while aiming to create a valuable housing asset owned by the public. The plan would come close to doubling the United States’ overall stock of affordable housing, which would bring the nation more in line with countries like Finland and Sweden that have much lower homelessness rates.”(Stein). Reducing the price of housing would give Americans a larger income, causing them to have a better quality of life, and therefore increasing international travel and trade. With the massive increases for healthcare insurance, free higher education, and more homes being built, the U.S. would have a better economy and better quality of life.

The United states is spending too much money in acting as a world peacekeeper. The United States must first focus on fixing its own problems at home before trying to help others. It doesn’t mean that the U.S. can’t be a peacekeeper, only that it shouldn’t spend so much money on it. With the amount the U.S. spends on troops, wars, and aid they could easily fix the social problems at home such as: high healthcare costs, poverty, housing shortage, etc. If the U.S. wants to keep its standing as a world power, they have to look after their own citizens first.

 

Annotated Bibliography

“America’s Forever Wars.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 23 Oct. 2017,

http://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/22/opinion/americas-forever-wars.html. Accessed 11 Sept. 2018.

This article is about the U.S. constantly being at war. It describes the U.S. having troops in almost every single country around the world. It has statistics on how many troops are stationed in each country. The article also explains that there are less troops on the ground than there was before. And that there are fewer American families being affected by military action in other countries, while civilians in other countries are still being affected by the U.S.’s presence. It explains not only why the military is necessary for national safety, but tells of other means the U.S. keeps the peace between nations. I will use this article to use both in the counterargument, but also to disprove of military action in other countries using the civilian casualty totals vs. American soldier casualty totals. This source is reliable because it gives casualty counts of both sides of the war, statistics of troops in other countries, and where American troops are.

 

“FY19 Defense Authorization Bill Passes Congress in Record Speed.” U.S. DEPARTMENT OF

DEFENSE, 1 Aug. 2018, dod.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-

View/Article/1591064/fy19-defense-authorization-bill-passes-congress-in-record-speed/. Accessed 11 Sept. 2018.

This article is about the U.S. Department of Defense getting a bill passed to increase its budget for 2019. They give reasons as to why they needed this bill and what they are going to use this money for. They explain that the bill had to be passed through a vote in Congress. The article seems to be surprised that this new bill got passed so fast. This information will be used to support other articles statistics and will be used in the argument against foreign military actions. It contains exact numerical data that I can use to support my claim. The information given was published recently so the reader can be given a sense of current information that pertains to their lives right now. This source is reliable due to it being a primary source/news release from the U.S. Department of Defense.

 

“Should the Government Intervene in the Affairs of Other Nations?” Washington County

Enterprise and Pilot Tribune, 9 Oct. 2013, http://www.enterprisepub.com/opinion/columns/

should-the-government-intervene-in-the-affairs-of-other-nations/article_42385bae-30ed-11e3-aa44-001a4bcf6878.html. Accessed 11 Sept. 2018.

This article is about whether or not the U.S. should be involved in international conflicts when it does not directly occur on U.S. soil. It states both sides of the argument and gives examples of the positives and negatives of both sides of those arguments. It questions important topics and gives reasons as to why the U.S. made those decisions. One side of the argument explains why the U.S. should not involve themselves with other countries’ conflicts, while the other argument goes against that and instead wants to focus on taking care of the U.S.’s own problems first. The article also gives out numerical data on the expenditures of foreign aid. I will use this article to deliver the counterargument and then disprove it with other evidence from other articles. It will also give me some numerical data that I can utilize. This source is reliable because it puts two different arguments against each other, includes quotes from multiple government officials, and includes international actions the U.S. government has taken.

 

Stein, Jeff. “What America Could Do with European Levels of Military Spending.” The

Washington Post, WP Company, 12 July 2018, http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2018/

07/12/what-america-could-do-with-european-levels-military-spending/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.b65aca0cba04. Accessed 11 Sept. 2018.

This article is about how the money given to the U.S. military could be better spent on other things that improve the lives of American citizens. The author gives 5 examples as to what would happen if money would be spent elsewhere. The author doesn’t remove the U.S. military budget entirely, only a mirror to the monetary funds of a European military. It gives facts on what the recent president has been talking about with NATO regrading military funds. I will use this article to give examples as to what would happen if the U.S. stopped spending so much on military and used the money on improving the country itself. This source is reliable because it gives accurate facts and statistics regarding military, education, and insurance costs.

 

Swanson, Ana. “Why Trying to Help Poor Countries Might Actually Hurt Them.” The

Washington Post, WP Company, 13 Oct. 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/

wp/2015/10/13/why-trying-to-help-poor-countries-might-actually-hurt-them/?utm_term=.6e2e78ecd6b1. Accessed 11 Sept. 2018.

This article is about the U.S. giving aid to poor countries in hope that their economies begin to improve, but realizing that it does not. It explains that when the U.S. gave money to African countries their GDP did not grow, they in fact became worse than before the foreign aid. The U.S. uses foreign aid to benefit themselves and gives examples as to why that is negative to the recipient countries. I will use this article’s statistic on a country’s GDP to correlate it to the downsides of giving aid to foreign countries. I will also use it to explain that the U.S.’s own interests with giving foreign aid, does not always directly benefit that country’s people. This source is reliable because it gives statistical information on countries’ GDP and events that occured in conjunction with the U.S.’s actions.