But if Americans don't have to be, then why are they in so many countries? Surely this is not necessary for defending the United States of America — the purpose of the U.S. military.
It has been observed that the rise of the American empire is inversely proportional to the decline of the American republic. And such has been the trajectory of the republics of the past. But unlike Rome, the various Greek confederacies, and other historic republics, the American republic cum empire has innumerable means at its disposal to distribute its military might throughout the entirety of the globe.
The Wall Street Journal piece highlights one of the (momentarily) most popular methods of keeping the U.S. armed forces involved in “81 countries:” the deployment of special operations/forces troops, A.K.A. “commandos.” Here’s the Journal’s nearly poetical encomium of the U.S. special operations activities around the world:
These days, the sun never sets on America’s special-operations forces. Over the past year, they have landed in 81 countries, most of them training local commandos to fight so American troops don’t have to. From Honduras to Mongolia, Estonia to Djibouti, U.S. special operators teach local soldiers diplomatic skills to shield their countries against extremist ideologies, as well as combat skills to fight militants who break through.
President Barack Obama, as part of his plan to shrink U.S. reliance on traditional warfare, has promised to piece together a web of such alliances from South Asia to the Sahel. Faced with mobile enemies working independently of foreign governments, the U.S. military has scattered small, nimble teams in many places, rather than just maintaining large forces in a few.