Mother Jones has put together an impressive, if regrettable, interactive map of U.S. troops stationed overseas. Depending on how and when you count, we have now have a continuing military presence in 130 to 140 countries and territories. If Obama wins, it’s a safe bet we’ll add humanitarian missions in Africa. If McCain wins, it’ll be military missions in the Middle East, and possibly Africa. Either way, the map’s only going to get darker.
Setting aside the moral, sustainability, and good government arguments against a permanently global American military (and that’s quite a bit to set aside), one would think that even national defense hawks would be troubled by this map. You’re both fostering animus against the United States (ask your favorite hawk how he’d feel waking up to see another country’s troops setting up base in his town, or flying sorties over his home), and diluting our ability to respond should an actual threat present itself.
We libertarians often get the “isolationist” smear because we’re bothered by a world map that looks like the late stages of a lopsided game of Risk. That’s not the case at all. I’m all about trading with, visiting with, learning about, employing, and being employed by foreigners–as much or more, I’d guess, than your average American Greatness type who looks at the map below and hears Kate Smith warbling up through his bosom. I just happen to think it’s a bad idea to regularly have our guns pointed at them, or to have our troops marching around in their yards.