General Mark Milley discusses post-WWII liberal world order

General Mark Milley discusses the “World Order”

General Mark Milley speaks about the role of the US military to maintain the post-WWII liberal global order at the National Press Club, 25:35 to 30:52 in link.

World order relies on US military power

Why does the US need a large military? That depends on what you want the military to be able to accomplish. The United States has been a global military since WWI.

The Breton Woods agreement in July 1944 after WWII established the “international order, the rules and regimes by which the world runs today”. “For seven decades the world has had a certain set of rules emphasizing things like” free trade, international commerce, democracy, human rights and the “liberal world order”. There are institutions that this “world order” rests upon like the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and many others. “One of the significant roles of the United States military for seven decades has been to enforce that world order, to maintain it, to maintain its stability.

Role of world police is in US national interest

This role is in “our interest because in the last half of the century there was a blood letting unlike any that had ever occurred in the history of mankind” when “between 1914 and 1945 one hundred million people were slaughtered in the conduct of war and that is a horrible, horrible nightmare.”

General Mark Miley Army Chief of Staff

By United States Army (Chief of Staff[1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Milley’s mother was in the Navy and his father was in the Marines during World War II. His father “hit the beach in Iwo Jima where 7,000 Marines were killed in 19 days and 34,000 wounded and 22,000 Japanese killed on an island that was 2 miles by 4 miles.”

During WWII there were “millions of Chinese killed”. Milley soberly reminds us that”If you want a real trail of tears – go to Eastern Europe and see what happened in Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania. It’s horrific.” One third of the men in Ukraine and Belarus were killed. In Poland 90% of Jews were killed.

Milley passionately states: “It’s a horrific picture that occurred. Those people who were in leadership positions in 1945 said never again. We can’t keep doing this… this is insane!”

This wasn’t the first time that leaders had tried to put constraints on war by agreement. Milley gives history that “the same thing in 1815 after the Napoleonic Wars” with the the “Concert of Europe and that worked well for 100 years. For one century they kept the long peace in Europe – more or less. There were a couple of minor flareups, but there wasn’t a continental wide war until 1914.”

After two horrific world wars the leaders tried “again in 1945 to set up a system that would try to retain global peace and prevent war between great powers and great power states throughout the world.” That system relies on the hegemony and power of the United States people and our military.

Milley emphasizes that the global “system is under stress, intense stress, today. That system is under stress from revolutionaries and terrorists and guerrillas. It’s under stress from nation states that don’t like the rules of the road that were written and want to revise those rules.” “That system is under very intense stress.” “We’re at seventy years now and that system has prevented great power war similar to what occurred in the first half of the last century.

How big is big enough?

“So the question is how big an army do you want? How big a navy do you want? Well, how much do you want that system? How much do you value that system? Is that system worth preserving or not?” That determines the size and scope of your armies, your navies, and air forces and Marines. Rightly or wrongly, fairly or unfairly the role of the arbiter of that system has defaulted to the United States for seven decades. There are other countries, 60 or 70, that have allied themselves with their militaries to us and they make significant contributions, but the United States has been the leader that system.”

“So the status of the army as part of the military force that works to help maintain the stability of the world. We’re a global military and we are a global army.”

“We’ve got, right now today, about 180,000 soldiers in the United States army active duty, reserve and National Guard deployed in about 140 different countries around the world helping to stabilize that system. That’s a significant amount of US forces.

Not all of them are in combat. Most of those that are in combat are in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. Around the entire globe are 180,000. That’s not a small number. That’s about 20% of the army as a whole. The active army is less than 500,000 right now. Based on the tasks that are required Milley believes there is a need for a larger army and “stronger and more capable” because of the “tasks that are required”. the concept is that policing the world is the role of the United States military. The the US global hegemony will to support global order and overall peace to prevent another catastrophic world war.

Read to learn more:

brettonwoods.org About Bretton Woods Institutions

Wikipedia: Bretton Woods Conference

What is the Liberal Order? The global world order

Wikipedia: Concert of Europe

Power and liberal order: America’s postwar world order in transition 2005

The Twilight of the Liberal World Order January 2017 – Brookings Institution

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