Abroad, the United States fights two guerrilla wars that have not yet taken the lives of as many soldiers as we lost putting down a Philippine insurrection a century ago. Yet, an ex-chief of staff says the U.S. Army is "breaking."
Query: If those "savage wars of peace," in Kipling's phrase, can break our army of 500,000, how in heaven's name can this little army fulfill war guarantees and treaty commitments to fight for 25 NATO nations, Israel, the Arab Gulf, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan?
We are committed to police the world. Yet, we have an Army that is "breaking," as presidential candidates bray about attacking Iran, a nation three times as large and populous as Iraq, and invading Pakistan, a Muslim nation of 170 million with atom bombs.
Whom are we kidding?
U.S. foreign policy is bankrupt. We can't cover our commitments with the ground forces we have. And a world watching America thrash about in Mesopotamia is beginning to recognize it and act upon it.
While the federal deficit is only 2 percent of GDP, the surpluses of the 1990s are history, and we are steering toward an entitlement iceberg.
"Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid ... already exceed 40 percent of the $2.7 trillion federal budget. By 2030, their share could hit 75 percent of the present budget," writes columnist Robert Samuelson. "To keep federal spending stable as a share of the economy would mean eliminating all defense spending and most other domestic programs. ... To balance the budget with existing programs at their present economic shares would require ... tax increases of 30 percent to 50 percent -- or budget deficits could quadruple."
We do not have the forces to fight and win our wars, or defend present allies. We do not collect enough in taxes to fund the coming deficits in Medicare and Social Security. High-wage jobs, technology and factories are pouring out of America into China. We hail the Global Economy, as they toast a Chinese economy that is growing at 12 percent, six times the rate of the U.S. economy in the first half of 2007.
A day of reckoning for the Boomers will arrive in the first term of the new president.