Sunday, June 13, 2010

US Army War College - Foreign Observations About Our Country

At the War College, there are several officers that attend from allied countries.  They bring a richness to the discussion that you might not otherwise experience.

The War College asks all participants to follow the non attribution policy so I will not note the name nor the country that the soldier belonged to.

I have been exposed to perspectives that have enriched my perspectives.

I'll start with 5 questions:
1.  The major differences between your country & the U.S.
2.  Your country's view of the U.S.
3.  The time horizon for establishing Middle East peace.
4.  Foreign aid ( a question that was posed to me ).
5.  Allies - measuring the "fair share" of the peacekeeping burden ( a question that was posed to me ).

Here are some notes from my interactions with Foreign Officers:

1.  When asked the differences between their country and ours, one soldier replied:
a.  Your country focuses on protecting the rights of the individual as part of your country.  Our country focuses on our country's rights which an individual belongs to.
b.  Your military organizations and members tend to be more religious than ours.
c.   Our borders are closed.  We are very limited and particular about who is allowed to become a citizen of our country.

2.  When asked to explain their country's view of the United States, one soldier replied:
You (the U.S.) are a friend to Israel.  You (the U.S.) are perceived as an enemy to Islam.

3.  When asked what the commitment needs to be to establish peace in the Middle East that is sustainable, answers from various soldiers ranged from 50-100 years.

4.  When the foreign officers asked me my knowledge of the amount of foreign aid we send overseas, I did not have a full command of the facts.  As a taxpayer, I felt pretty silly not knowing the extent of our dollars going abroad.

Maybe some of you are shaking your heads that I was so out of touch with the $.  That is okay.  But, for those of you that did not know the extent of our generousity, here are a few numbers that I jotted down:

a.  Israel is often in the top 1-3 largest recipients (if you count all programs) of assistance since WWII.  We are expected to increase our military assistance to Israel to about $3B in Fiscal year 2012.

b.  Since the end of WWII, the US has loaned and given $1 Trillion+ to roughly 150 countries.

c.  Roughly $550 Million has been set aside to support the Merida Initiative (this initiative is focused on stopping/preventing the escalation of terrorism, drug trafficking, and other crimes in Mexico and Central

d.  Roughly $1.3 Billion+ goes to Egypt

e.  Approximately $2.1 Billion was allocated for the State Dept and USAID programs in Africa (Sudan, Liberia, Zimbabwe & Somalia) to address NON HIV/Aids health, economic growth, and political issues.

For better and more thorough statistics and amounts, I would refer you to the site.

5.  When the foreign soldiers asked for MY perspective on whether or not the rest of the world was pulling their weight and doing their fair share in the Middle East, they shared the following facts:

a.  Per capita, the highest number of soldier deaths?  The hardest hit was the UK.  The United States has lost more soldiers but the UK took the heavier hit per capita.

b.  Norway has dedicated 25% of their total military to the Middle East efforts.

c.  The price of peace - The U.S. plus NATO, Japan, S. Korea and Australia spend over $1 Trillion if you tally up spending on the military.  The U.S. is roughly $700 Billion of that spending.  I found various sources where the $ are near this range.  One source you may find of interest is:

These are just a few of the notes from my conversations.  As always, I am very interested to hear from you. Would love your comments and questions.

Were any of these comments or notes surprising to you?  Do you agree / disagree?

1 comment:

  1. The price of peace, in my opinion, is not equally shared among some countries notably Russia and China. I'm not sure the agendas of those countries involve wanting peace in the Middle East. It seems they are more interested in making money from selling weapons and other items of warfare.