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posted: 2/6/2010 12:01 AM

Want to see a bully? Look in the mirror

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Our government spends more (borrowed) money on its military forces than the rest of the world combined. We maintain hundreds of military bases placed all over the world, and we intervene in the politics of scores of countries with bribery, assassination, and war very much on the model of the old British Empire. Yet reader Steve Quick (Jan. 10) would have us believe that we are perceived as "weak" and are faced with a world of "bullies" out to get us.

He reminds me of the rich tycoon who complains that all the nasty poor people want to rob him. Could it not be that, in truth, we are the bully and the terrorists people who want to get us out of their countries?

If there is a sense in which we are weak, it is in the same way that the old British Empire weakened during the last decades of its existence. British diplomacy pushed to extend the Empire into more and more remote parts of the globe and involved Britain in almost constant war. At the same time, the British financial community channeled the investment of British wealth into the development of foreign countries (such as the United States) and allowed the British economy to stagnate.

The eventual result was the collapse and extinction of the Empire. Sound familiar? We constantly extend our military commitments and wage constant war while moving practically our entire economy - certainly manufacturing - to China, a massive rival power which we cannot really control. This is the road to suicide. We will not save ourselves by tearing up the Constitution and out-brutalizing Genghis Khan. We must learn that less war means more strength and that the avoidance of "entangling alliances" (as George Washington said) is the true route to security.

Anthony Nelson

Rolling Meadows