At an age when many workers are either contemplating or enjoying retirement, Secretary of State Colin Powell finds himself presiding over U.S. foreign policy at an extremely perilous time.
American troops are fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and aiding the Philippines in that nation's struggle against terrorists. The Mideast is as explosive as ever despite signs of progress made last weekend in that region. Traditional hot spots such as Iraq and Korea could flare up at any time. U.S. forces continue to keep the peace in Bosnia -- an almost forgotten conflict that was pushed into the shadows by the war on terrorism.
Increasingly, the use of U.S. troops, or at least their potential use, is a component of our foreign policy. Whether it's called peacekeeping or nation-building, our men and women in the armed forces must implement the foreign policy decisions of Congress and the president on the front lines of the world.
It's important for U.S. citizens and leaders to realize that the U.S. military is not an inexhaustible resource. Right now it's stretched about as thin as it can be stretched to support the ambitious agenda that's been set for it.
The nations of the world are used to looking to the United States for leadership and peacekeeping efforts, but our well meaning activism comes at a price. Every time we become involved in a military action that doesn't have a clear exit strategy, it represents a tremendous commitment in terms of money and human resources.
Military units are already being deployed for lengthy periods of time and it takes a toll on the men and women who must be separated from their families. Congress shows no signs of wanting to reinstate the draft yet the available manpower for the all-volunteer military may be close to being tapped out.
Consider Korea. It's been 50 years since that war and we still maintain a vigilant military presence there. The question is, how many Koreas, Afghanistans and Bosnias can we afford to get involved in without devoting considerably more resources to our armed forces.
It's fine for politicians to propose military action in certain situations but they had better be prepared to back up their recommendations with support for manpower and money.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.