Ending America’s Wars

W.J. Astore

Yesterday, I went on Keeping Democracy Alive with Burt Cohen to discuss ways of ending America’s wars. Click on the link below for the podcast.

Can it Happen Now: Real National Security, an End to Endless Wars?

We discussed the Biden administration and its approach to foreign policy, the Afghan War, the legacy of the Vietnam War, the military-industrial-congressional complex, and similar subjects. That rare word, “peace,” and that rare politician, George McGovern, truly a man of vision and guts, also get a mention.

Ending war is all about getting the profit out of war. General Smedley Butler knew this — yet America’s generals today love their massive “defense” budgets, this year soaring to $740.5 billion.

Another point: Look at the ongoing crisis in Texas with its frozen and failing power grid, lack of potable water, and so on. Why is America building more nuclear weapons when it needs to be upgrading its power grids and related infrastructure?

I know: stop making sense!

Nothing will fundamentally change?

15 thoughts on “Ending America’s Wars

  1. I am quite ignorant about the economics of all this, but have some thoughts to put out there for others with more expertise to comment on, if my thoughts are even worthy of comment.

    My sense is that a large part of the defense budget goes to companies that are researching and producing weapons. The facts seen to indicate that services for training and care of the troops are underfunded. So the question is why produce effective weapons and not spend the money to train the people using them and keep them healthy?

    Another impression I have is that weapons are about the only product that the US exports at a profit. If so, then without weapons exports our balance of trade would collapse. Therefore this requires the continued investment in weapons. (To me this seems to be a case of an industry that exports products surviving only because of subsidies paid by the tax payer.)

    We could certainly put money into funding research and manufacturing of other products, but doing so would require years of retooling during which there would be a significant crunch in the balance of trade.

    I don’t know if my logic is correct here, but if so, then we need to look at how to shift from a destruction-based economy to a construction-based economy without causing severe economic disruption.

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    1. Call it military Keynesianism. But it’s been shown that spending on the military creates fewer jobs than spending on consumer goods or infrastructure or just about anything else. Figuratively speaking, we’d get a lot more bang for the buck building roads or bridges or high-speed trains than F-35 fighters and B-21 bombers. But the weapons makers have figured out how spread the wealth around to nearly every Congressional district; this is why the B-1 bomber survived cancellation, and why Congress loves the F-35.

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      1. Thanks for informing me. I am glad to hear there is evidence that spending on consumer goods or infrastructure etc creates more jobs than military spending. Somehow that also reassures me about human nature.

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  2. What’s happening right now in Texas and other southern plains states demonstrates that ending forever wars and reducing the U.S. military budget is quite literally a renewed guns-or-butter debate, one that has been won handily by the military-industrial complex much the same way the financial elite have handily won the class war. However, as every spouse knows from experience, at some point, there is no winning in winning. The end result is only destruction of one sort or another.

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  3. I’d point out, however, that the power grid in Texas is not part of national infrastructure. The powers that be in the Lone Star state (“We are the storm!” – Texas GOP) deliberately severed its grid to avoid regulation, so there isn’t a military-spending-vs.-infrastructure-maintenance issue there, as I understand it. Certainly, however, the burden of rescuing Texas will fall on all of us.

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    1. I’m not well informed about the particulars of how Texas or any other state manages its power generation, but the existence of federal departments of labor, energy, education, housing, etc. would suggest that despite administration being handled by states, counties, and municipalities, the issues are fundamental enough to how society functions to demand federal guidance. Even though federal infrastructure may not strictly be a thing, some level of federal involvement is inevitable, no? What is FEMA doing to alleviate suffering, BTW? I don’t know but was actually like to.

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      1. Texas refused to connect with the power grid in the rest of the country, as a means of avoiding regulation, so in that area, they have nothing to do with federal infrastructure.

        Per my reading, FEMA has sent generators, bottled water, and other essential supplies. Meanwhile, President Biden has declared Texas a disaster area, opening doors for various other avenues of aid.

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    1. I made exactly the same “secession” comment on a NY Times thread yesterday, and somebody came back with, “Hey, let them secede. When their Medicare and Social Security are gone, they’ll start flooding into surrounding states, and we’ll have to build a wall to keep them out.” Too funny!

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    1. That so much reminds me of the accounts I heard from the Vietnam combat vets I treated during my medical training and then from the veterans of our more recent wars. Its heartbreaking. And our leaders don’t seem interested in learning.

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  4. Again Carl Sagan first warned the World of the concept “Nuclear Winter.” Carl, and other Scientists studied the atmospheres of Earth and other Planets like the Martian Dust Storms and the Clouds on Venus. Finding what a Thermonuclear exchange, or doomsday scenario would entail: ” When combined with the prompt destruction from nuclear blasts, fires, and fallout and the later enhancement of solar ultraviolet radiation due to ozone depletion, long term exposure to cold, dark, and radioactivity could pose a serious threat to human survivors and other species…! The possibility of extinction of Homo sapiens cannot be excluded.” Its later than we think, and we don’t– “Think” It could mean even a small nuclear exchange like say w/ N. Korea could lead to significant climate change and damage to the World for years to come…!

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