In my latest article for TomDispatch.com, I argue for major cuts in military spending.
This year’s Pentagon budget is a staggering $778 billion, a sum that’s virtually unimaginable. That said, the real budget for “defense,” or, as we should say, the budget for wars and weapons, is well over a trillion dollars. This is madness. No self-avowed democracy can survive such a misappropriation of resources for domination and destruction. But of course America is not a democracy, it’s an empire, with a figurehead for a president and a Congress that acts as a rubber stamp for the generals and their weapons makers.
The military-industrial complex has become America’s fourth branch of government, eclipsing the roles and powers of the other three branches (executive, legislative, judicial). The only way to rein it in, I believe, is to cut its budget. In my article, I propose cutting that budget by $50 billion a year for the next seven years. Thus by Fiscal Year 2029, the Pentagon budget should be no more than $400 billion, still a vast sum, but roughly half of what we’re paying for war and weaponry today. Such cuts can be made sensibly and without harming America’s true defense needs. Indeed, a smaller U.S. military establishment will reduce adventurism and increase our security and safety.
Here’s the conclusion to my piece at TomDispatch.com. Please read the rest of it at the site. And I urge you as well to read Tom Engelhardt’s introduction, which provides stunning details about how America’s generals profit from endless wars and weapons production, so much so that “In wars and weapons we trust” could very well serve as America’s truest national motto.
Of Smoking Guns and Mushroom Clouds
What would real oversight look like when it comes to the defense budget? Again, glad you asked!
It would focus on actual defense, on preventing wars, and above all, on scaling down our gigantic military. It would involve cutting that budget roughly in half over the next few years and so forcing our generals and admirals to engage in that rarest of acts for them: making some tough choices. Maybe then they’d see the folly of spending $1.7 trillion on the next generation of world-ending weaponry, or maintaining all those military bases globally, or maybe even the blazing stupidity of backing China into a corner in the name of “deterrence.”
Here’s a radical thought for Congress: Americans, especially the working class, are constantly being advised to do more with less. Come on, you workers out there, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and put your noses to those grindstones!
To so many of our elected representatives (often sheltered in grotesquely gerrymandered districts), less money and fewer benefits for workers are seldom seen as problems, just challenges. Quit your whining, apply some elbow grease, and “git-r-done!”
The U.S. military, still proud of its “can-do” spirit in a warfighting age of can’t-do-ism, should have plenty of smarts to draw on. Just consider all those Washington “think tanks” it can call on! Isn’t it high time, then, for Congress to challenge the military-industrial complex to focus on how to do so much less (as in less warfighting) with so much less (as in lower budgets for prodigal weaponry and calamitous wars)?
For this and future Pentagon budgets, Congress should send the strongest of messages by cutting at least $50 billion a year for the next seven years. Force the guys (and few gals) wearing the stars to set priorities and emphasize the actual defense of this country and its Constitution, which, believe me, would be a unique experience for us all.
Every year or so, I listen again to Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex speech. In those final moments of his presidency, Ike warned Americans of the “grave implications” of the rise of an “immense military establishment” and “a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions,” the combination of which would constitute a “disastrous rise of misplaced power.” This country is today suffering from just such a rise to levels that have warped the very structure of our society. Ike also spoke then of pursuing disarmament as a continuous imperative and of the vital importance of seeking peace through diplomacy.
In his spirit, we should all call on Congress to stop the madness of ever-mushrooming war budgets and substitute for them the pursuit of peace through wisdom and restraint. This time, we truly can’t allow America’s numerous smoking guns to turn into so many mushroom clouds above our beleaguered planet.
Link to the entire article here.
32 thoughts on “Major Cuts in Military Spending Are the Best Way to Revive Our Democracy”
Thank you for an excellent analysis and the constructive and practical steps to take to fix the problem.
I will write again to my senators and representative, but it is an exercise in futility. I do not hear back from them or receive the standard letter which says nothing. Unfortunately any member of Congress that opposes military spending increases, runs a substantial risk of losing the next election.
Here is an interesting graph of the Department of Defense budget from 1960 – 2020.
Three things stand out.
First is that the budget seems to match inflation until 1981 when Reagan increased the budget, Star Wars.
Second is the increase after 2001 by Bush-Cheney; the war on terror.
Third is the % of GDP of the budget. One can average the curve and see that it was a steady decline from 1960 until 2001. There is no evidence that the graph is decreasing now.
Thanks. Yes — hawks like to talk about the defense budget in terms of GDP, as if there’s some magical % of GDP that should be devoted to wars and weapons.
Of course, the best thing to do is to spend as little as possible on wars and weapons. Any democracy worthy of the name would seek to minimize military spending. But of course we’re no longer a democracy. And we’re constantly mobilized for war, when not actively fighting one.
When a war ends (Afghanistan) and military spending get a major boost, you know who’s really running the country.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Some years ago, I wrote my Dem senator (writing the GOP senator has always been an exercise in futility), who is considered to be left-leaning and generally not afraid to make waves. I suggested that the best way to support our troops would be to bring them home immediately, and cut the defense budget by a large amount.
Even this guy, who I’d long admired and had met personally more than once, responded with the typical talking point: we can’t cut the budget because the troops need the money for equipment, and even if we were to get them out of Iraq, there would still have to be funds to cover their extraction, etc. Very disappointing. And of course it was only much later that the bulk of the forces were pulled out. As you say, the fix is in.
Concise and pointed, Bill.
I have a question, stemming from my lack of knowledge about technical military matters. How did you arrive at a figure of cutting the budget in half? Is that enough to maintain the status quo, with maintenance included, but no new weapons/programs? Or would that figure represent a reduction in the number of bases and weaponry?
Again, my perspective is an uninformed one, but it seems to me that if we abandoned the “world force dominance” concept, we could afford to scale WAY back, perhaps down to a small fraction of today’s expenditures, as pie-in-the-sky as that sounds.
Hi Denise: I have no rigorous method, to be honest. My proposal is what I think would (perhaps) be achievable in our military-mad country. And by “achievable” I mean politically and economically. Politically, I don’t think it’s possible to make huge cuts quickly. The same is true economically.
When military spending does go down, the military usually first tries to cut troops rather than weapons programs. Large cuts in spending would lead to massive troop cuts and a sense of betrayal that could easily be exploited by a Trump-like figure. Large cuts would also throw lots of Americans out of work, perhaps leading to a recession, since so much of our economy is based on military Keynesianism.
I’m not an economist, so who knows? But I think the sensible way to cut the budget is by roughly 5-10% per year for 7-10 years, ensuring the cuts don’t or won’t lead to major disruptions, and especially that sense of betrayal I mentioned, which could, and I think would, be exploited by nationalists/militarists to stoke violence in the name of keeping America strong.
What do you think?
LikeLiked by 2 people
I kinda thought you might be ball parking the number, based on what might be doable.
Point well taken about exploitation of any cuts by the military-mad.
In terms of what things go first when cuts are made, I hadn’t realized that troops would be the low-hanging fruit, so to speak, but the way you’ve explained it, it makes perfect sense. I would have thought that, for instance, the F-35 would be cut loose before anything else, followed by the other boondoggles. But, as with corporations, cutting personnel is considered a win-win (even though, in the long run, it damages a company). It costs the military nothing to ramp down human forces, in their eyes, but calling it quits with weaponry risks offending the contractor/profiteers, and might put the revolving door in jeopardy, yes?
Thank you, Mr. Astore!
“. . . there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things, because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. Thus it happens that whenever those who are hostile have the opportunity to attack they do it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly, in such wise that the prince is endangered along with them” — Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter VI — Concerning New Principalities Acquired by One’s Own Arms and Ability
While I agree that the Orwellian Permanent War Budget urgently requires slashing in half (as least as an initial down payment on fiscal sanity), I disagree about the advisability of nibbling away at it slowly. Such a milquetoast approach only gives the enemies of such a policy ample advance notification which they will employ to organize and launch their resistance. And since they are such enthusiastic promoters of The Shock Doctrine* (“Disaster Capitalism”) applied to American citizens and working people throughout the world, I suggest that a newly established (and truly patriotic) American President give the Corporate Oligarchy — especially the upper ranks of the career military (any officer with 20 years or more of “service,” i.e., servility) — a severe dose of it themselves. Several-hundred-to-a-thousand former colonels, commanders, generals, and admirals showing up the same day at FOX, MSNBC, CNN, and PBS looking for a few available jobs as “expert commentators” ought to let capitalist Supply and Demand do its thing reducing their “value” to something approximating reality.
So, to recapitulate: “YES!” to the goal, but “NO WAY!” to a policy of suicidal timidity when only a swift and ruthless implementation will have any chance of success. The suddenly and justifiably “retired” military brass won’t starve, starting with the Joined Chefs of Stuff. So get rid of them first. The junior officers and NCOs can then reorganize and “right-size” America’s “national defense” to something approximating affordability and effectiveness. The Oligarchical Collective (Orwell’s term for our disintegrating “Empire”) can go pound sand.
Note * For those unfamiliar with Naomi Klein’s exhaustive study of the phenomenon, The Shock Doctrine refers to “a deliberate strategy of ‘shock therapy’. This centers on the exploitation of national crises (disasters or upheavals) to establish controversial and questionable policies, while citizens are too distracted (emotionally and physically) to engage and develop an adequate response, and resist effectively.” [quote from Wikipedia]
LikeLiked by 2 people
The preceding prose commentary quite obviously restates — and substantiates — in more pedestrian language, what I posted the other day in verse on another thread: Corporate Career Camouflage — on seeing a screenshot of Marine Lt. Colonel Stuart Scheller looking shocked (“shocked!”) at lack of accountability in the upper military ranks).
We know the corporate culprits and their class-based cupidity. Time to dispense with them before they further dispense with us. Playing beanbag with them will only result in additional generations of working people living on beans as their only affordable sustenance. No more insipid incrementalism.
To your point about a rapid—rather than incremental—drawdown of the military, Michael, I wonder if any President who tried to implement such a measure would survive very long. I’m not taking issue with your idea, I merely question whether such a commander-in-chief would live long enough to see the plan through.
In other words, replacing the final “r” in “commander” with a “d” best describes the quaint notion of civilian control of the military and so-called “intelligence services” in the United States. If the elected President has to fear assassination by his own military forces and their allies in the Oligarchy, then that farce calling itself a U. S. “government” has discredited itself and deserves dissolution.
As for the possible as opposed to the only theoretical, Russian President Vladimir Putin has done a pretty good job of wresting control of his country’s administration from the grasping claws of the Shock Doctrine vampire “investors” that swarmed into the former Soviet Union to pillage and loot for a decade during the Clinton Administration. President Putin hasn’t completed the job yet, but he has managed to stay alive long enough to establish his credibility with the Russian people who consider him a national asset of the first order. Not sure if Americans any longer have the endurance and fortitude required to initiate and complete a de-militarization of the United States, but it doesn’t seem entirely beyond accomplishing given a person worthy of the title “leader“: an accolade that I consider far more appropriate than “commander-in-brief.”
LikeLiked by 1 person
You’re certainly correct about the farce of the U.S. government.
There was a time when we did rapidly demobilize, e.g. after WW1 and WW2. These were the days of citizen-soldiers, draftees, who pretty much rightly insisted that, once the war was over, so too was their life in the military.
Now, of course, we have a “professional” military of “warriors,” and a military establishment that sees itself as permanent, even as the true patriots. They are spread out in 750 military bases globally and wage war for the purposes of empire (which is of course advertised as “deterring” China, Russia, Iran, and so on).
Can such a structure, both physical and mental, be deconstructed rapidly, in a year’s time? It most certainly would be “shocking” to do so. But I think for both practical and political reasons, and economic ones too, a rapid demobilization is impossible, short of a national collapse, and then all bets are off.
An “incremental” one, which is radical enough, actually, is possible, but even that would require major changes to the way we think and the way our economy is structured, not to mention a radical downsizing of our imperial ambitions.
In today’s climate, just about any proposal to cut the “defense” budget is met with opposition and scorn, which goes to show you what kind of “democracy” we have, i.e. none.
LikeLiked by 2 people
First of all, the word “incremental” does not belong in the same sentence with a word like “radical.” Speaking in streams of mouth-noises like “incremental radicalism” or “radical incrementalism” simply makes genuine thought impossible, the very purpose of Newspeak jargon, as Orwell pointed out in 1984, as well as many of his major essays. If the generations-long “incrementalism” on display in Vietnam and Afghanistan (to cite only two of the most notorious examples of U.S. military fuck-up-manship) does not convince Americans to shit-can forever such meaningless jargon along with the “professionals” who spout it without pause or shame, then nothing will ever happen. People who preemptively announce their fear of “rapid” (meaning efficient) change in favor of ostensibly “more practical” approaches in fact console their enemies with the assurance that they have already surrendered before the first shot, so to speak.)
Secondly, by demobilization, I meant to start with a decapitation of the primary obstacles to demobilization: the military brass who have — for several generations now (ever since 1945, with a more recent spasmodic boost on 9/11/2001) — enriched themselves on the public purse (running up a 21 trillion dollar deficit), bankrupting the nation, and setting the stage for collapse of the country’s currency. Cut off the head of the flightless chicken and let it run around flapping its two right wings while saner administrators redirect the budget to civilian infrastructure, jobs, and a national health care system, all politically popular. Then, by the time a new generation of military chickens has started to hatch, the barnyard will not have heard a U.S. military hen crowing at sundown for a refreshingly long time.
As Machiavelli continued: “Hiero of Syracuse … destroyed the old militia and established a new one; he abandoned old alliances and formed new ones. Having his own soldiers and allies, he was thus able to build as he chose upon this foundation, so that although he exerted great effort to achieve his position, it required little to keep it.”
Now, repeat as many times as required: “Truman, MacArthur!” “NATO Abolished!” “Rapproachement with Russia!” … Way past time to get going with what should have gotten done long before now. Or, as my widowed working-class mother used to admonish me: “Never put off till tomorrow what you should have done yesterday.”
Sigh. Yes, that’s why “incremental” was in quotes. I believe my plan to cut the defense budget in half in seven years is radical, not “incremental.” You obviously disagree.
Your plan to do it one fell swoop: good luck with that. Let’s see what happens when a president suggests a Pentagon budget of roughly $390 billion for FY2023.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Any President who proposed such a budget would end up considering himself lucky if he were “only” removed via the 25th amendment, I fear.
A telling quote from Machiavelli.
Slashing the “defense” budget in half is our desired goal. We differ on the timeframe, but I’m happy to keep our eyes on the prize.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yes, but we differ in that I want my eyes to see the goal (or “prize”) in the rear-view mirror (before I die) and not reportedly somewhere up ahead around 360-degrees-worth of “corners” in some metaphorical “tunnel” with the headlight of an oncoming train mistaken for its “end.”
Might also recommend Sam Keen’s “Faces of the Enemy” (1986), which would seem to go hand-in-hand with “The Shock Doctrine.”
For those who recall Margaret Thatcher’s and Ronald Reagan’s coordinated assault — now nearly complete — on FDR’s New Deal:
(“There is no alternative”)
I’ve lately had a nagging thought
of that which greatly matters
in such a season.
When “Change” threatens, some will argue that “if-IS-then-OUGHT,”
a timeless fallacy of dialectics hopelessly fraught
with suggestion that the present situation — in and of itself — proves that it must
be dispositive, ending debate.
So much for deciding our fate,
which tends to go bust
Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2021
And, from yesterday morning (with a hat tip to Dante Aligheiri and Percy Shelley for the terza rima sonnet format):
Masticating the Multitudes
Asleep on watch, pants down around their ankles,
George “Dubya” Bush and Dick “the Driver” Cheney
Invoked a scam that through the decades rankles:
a murderous and venal miscellany:
while buildings fall, rob citizens confused
and fearful – ranging from the dull to brainy –
who’ve yet to figure out how they’ve been used
by “government” and sycophantic scribblers
who never knew a chance for crime refused
by oligarchs and those they hire as quibblers,
who argue “cases” till there is no Law,
thus earning notoriety as nibblers
who ceaselessly the world and nation gnaw.
No morsel sticks in their voracious craw.
Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2021
A bit of history regarding the institutional peril of allowing the U.S. Military to open their ravenous mouths and utter a single syllable regarding the domestic and foreign polices of the United States.
“The Kennedy commitment changed things in other ways as well.While the President had the illusion that he had held off the military, the reality was that he had let them in [emphasis added]. They now began to dominate the official reporting, so that the dispatches which came into Washington were colored through their eyes. Now they were players, men who had a seat at the poker table; they would now, on any potential dovish move, have to be dealt with. He had activated them, and yet at the same time had given them so precious little that they could always tell their friends that they had never been allowed to do what they really wanted. Dealing with the military, once their foot was in the door, both Kennedy and Johnson would learn, was an awesome thing. The failure of their estimates along the way, point by point, meant nothing. It did not follow, as one might expect that their credibility was diminished and that there was now less pressure from them, but the reverse. It meant that there would be an inexorable pressure for more – more men, more hardware, more targets – and that with the military, short of nuclear weapons, the due bills went only one way, civilian to military. Thus one of the lessons for civilians who thought that they could run small wars with great control was that to harness the military, you had to harness them completely, that once in, even partially, everything began to work in their favor. Once activated, even in a small way at first, they would soon dominate the play [emphasis added] Their particular power with the Hill and with hawkish journalists, their stronger hold on patriotic-machismo arguments (in decision making they proposed the manhood positions, their opponents the softer, or sissy, positions), their particular certitude, made them far more powerful players than men raising doubts. The illusion would always be of civilian control; the reality would be of a relentlessly growing military domination of policy, intelligence, aims, objectives and means, with the civilians, the very ones who thought they could control the military (and who were often in private quite contemptuous of the military mind), conceding step by step, without even knowing they were losing.” [emphasis added] David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest — Twentieth-Anniversary Edition (1969; New York: Ballantine Books, 1992) pp. 178-179
Boot them out, or you will shortly find their boots in your mouth, Mr (or Ms) “Commander-in-Brief.”
LikeLiked by 1 person
Worth noting is that, six weeks after he told military leaders that he would withdraw troops from Vietnam, JFK was dead. Four days after being sworn in, LBJ signed the order to increase troop levels. I’ve never thought either occurrence was coincidence.
Some erstwhile critics of the American status-quo seem to think that even half-way demobilizing the bloated U.S. Imperial Military (which cannot even manage an audit) sounds like the British band playing “The world turned upside down” as Lord Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington at Yorktown. I happened to think about that 16 years ago in terms of the equivalent Chinese idiom: “The hen crows in the morning.” Of course, expecting my fellow Americans to distinguish between dawn and dusk — with Deputy Dubya Bush and Sheriff Dick Cheney in the White House — demands more from mere mortality than one should reasonably expect. So, in helpless frustration at having to watch Vietnam Redux / Deja-vu-All-Over-Again inexorably unfold, the idioms and metaphors clashed and combined, resulting in:
The Hens Roared Upside Down
The five-deferment chicken hawk
Who couldn’t graduate
The champagne flyboy too absolved
To make his monthly date
Two trophy chief executives
Who came to war too late
These three-piece-suit barbarians,
Attilas wearing ties,
With millions in their P. R. funds
To manufacture lies
Sent thousands to their early doom
Where few could hear their cries
You might as well give Genghis Khan
A haircut and a shave
And then expect this earthly scourge
To make nice and behave
As think that Bush and Cheney might
The lives of any save
Dick Cheney with his under-bite
Into his armpit sneered
Denouncing Democrats who had
In uniform appeared
While Dick and his pet Bubble Boy
Had only profiteered
While Dick had other things to do:
“Priorities,” said he,
Much better men heard country’s call
And sailed across the sea
To fight against some mystic dread
So Dick and George could flee
But then the wheel came `round and gave
To Dick and George at last
A foolproof way to expurgate
The yellow from their past
They’d bash some Arab people not
Involved in terror’s blast
They said they knew of weapons that
Saddam would not dispose
If we knew what they knew, they said,
We’d give Saddam the hose
Just trust in them, they said, or else
Our wife’s job they’d disclose
When some asked for the proof they glared
And said they’d not debate
To any who had questions they
Said, “Hurry up and wait!
You’ll get your answers soon enough,
But first swallow the bait.”
They wanted all the credit for
The war that couldn’t fail
In no-cost, cakewalk, record time
They’d all be hoisting ale
To toast their grandiose design
A tidbit of a tale
Let’s do that Mongol thing, they thought,
And simply sack the place
Let’s watch while priceless works of art
Take off without a trace
And have Don Rumsfeld blow it off
As “some kid with a vase”
But after years of mission creep
They’re mired in Khyber Pass
They keep inventing rationales
That sound like passing gas
Their bait and switch has turned around
And bit them in the ass
So as the world turned upside down
The mid-east mouse, it roared
And out of soldiers’ punctured veins
A bloody torrent poured
Inducing Dick and George to do
The thing they most adored
They posed unwavering before
The steady camera lens
They beamed unshaking images
Into home TV dens
And heralded the sundown like
A pair of crowing hens
Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2005
And some people wonder why I think the U.S. military belongs in the dustbin of history along with the rest of the world’s useless trash . . .
“For this and future Pentagon budgets, Congress should send the strongest of messages by cutting at least $50 billion a year for the next seven years. Force the guys (and few gals) wearing the stars to set priorities and emphasize the actual defense of this country and its Constitution, which, believe me, would be a unique experience for us all.” – our esteemed author
Senate Passes Massive $778 Billion NDAA
The bill was already passed by the House and will now be signed by President Biden to become law
Well, so much for “this” budget. Looks like our incrementally radical (or radically incremental) 7-year program will now require 8 years (assuming it actually starts next year).
Why did – and does – this sort of budgetary abomination predictably happen? Well, Duh! It happened – and happens – when the Chief Executive Officer of the national government (ostensibly a civilian) doesn’t “force the guys (and a few gals) wearing the stars” to retire so that the nation’s chief executive (again, nominally a civilian) can set the priorities. Letting the military brass “set priorities and determine the actual defense of this country and its Constitution” amounts to letting the foxes “guarding” the henhouse determine which chickens the foxes will choose to dine on at dinner tonight. “Personnel is policy,” someone once observed, and the competent administrator does not leave in positions of authority those “subordinates” implacably opposed to his or her policies.
So again, if one actually desires to achieve major cuts in the woefully unnecessary military budget – instead of a threatened (but never actually administered) minor manicure – then one must first (quickly and ruthlessly) identify and eliminate those in the military who – as they did again this year – made a mockery of both the true “national” (i.e., notional) defense AND the Constitution.
Not to belabor the point (too much), I once had the privilege of learning about bureaucratic maneuvering from the late Dr Ananda W. P. Guruge, formerly Sri Lanka’s Minister of Education as well as Ambassador to France and the United States. He told me that he once proposed reforms to his country’s educational system but found his proposals blocked by two other officials in the Department. When I asked him how he resolved this impasse, he replied simply: “I forced their early retirement.” I consider myself instructed by the master, and now I simply propose the same solution to the constipated bureaucratic log-jam created by a corrupt coterie of self-aggrandizing careerist brown-nosers (“kiss up, kick down”) more interested in greasing their own palms than rationally and intelligently downsizing — meaning, “right-sizing” — the Lunatic Leviathan.
Oh, well. Perhaps next year for sure . . .
LikeLiked by 1 person
Where are they going to get the money, Mike? 🙂
I wish it could happen — a rapid and rational downsizing; dramatic and deep cuts driven by the true defensive needs of this country of ours, protected as it is by vast oceans and a long, mostly secure, border with Canada. How is a country so safe as the U.S. is, geographically, always (allegedly) so much in peril?
I had a video debate recently with a journalist. Framed by miniature AF planes, this journalist told me my “radical incrementalism” was absurd and dangerous because, well, China! Russia! We must modernize! Reasons! Basically, this guy saw no reason to make any cuts to military spending. Guess what? He’s the guy invited on CNN, not me.
So I will continue to write and speak against this madness, and I will continue to try to learn from others on how we can end militarism in the USA and restore democracy. The odds are against us, to understate the problem, but I’m not giving up.
LikeLiked by 1 person
(1) “The Aimless Empire” by Patrick Lawrence,
Consortium News (June 1, 2021)
“It is occasionally said that the military runs U.S. foreign policy. One gets the point, a grim point, but this is not so, either. The Pentagon has no vision of where this nation is heading or why. Its only policy is to find things to do that justify its bloated bureaucracy and budget. That is not policy; it is something closer to theft” [emphasis added]
Case in point:
(2) Situation Report: White House Delays Moving Military Assistance to Ukraine – And Congress is getting impatient by Jack Detsch and Robbie Gramer FP (Dec. 16, 2021)
“Frustrated with the delay in military assistance, however, members of Congress have gone to the region seeking answers for themselves. Over the weekend, the bipartisan trio of U.S. Reps. Michael Waltz, Ruben Gallego, and Seth Moulton visited Ukraine for meetings with U.S. embassy officials, Ukrainian national security leaders, and troops out in the field (and even some sparring with Russian diplomats).”
And what “troops” did our bi-factional right-wing Congressmen visit in Ukraine, you may wonder? Why, naturally, we learn that:
(3) Florida National Guard troops are somehow caught up in Russia’s showdown with Ukraine — Red Storm Rising by Jeff Schogol, Task and Purpose (December 7, 2021)
“More than 100 Flordia National Guard troops are currently deployed to Ukraine as U.S. intelligence officials continue to warn that Russia is poised to launch a crushing invasion of the country early next year.”
“While this small American force is based in western Ukraine – nearly 700 miles from the country’s eastern borders, where up to 175,000 Russian troops are reportedly massing – the presence of U.S. troops in Ukraine adds even more volatility to an already combustible situation.”
Some “national defense.” Whose “nation”? And whose “national guard “defends” them?
And some of our more radical incrementalists think this will all change if we only stop these motherless military cretins from stealing 50 billion of our dollars annually while permitting them to go on pilfering the other 950 [plus the 350 billion in interest charges on the 21 trillion dollar national debt] that they call “a budget.” But what the hell? “A billion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money,” to paraphrase former Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen.
And all while the Pentagram can’t even run an audit – and would lie about it even if they could. But until our walking Christmas-tree decorations can do at least that, I wouldn’t hand over to them — as Harlan Thrombey said in the movie Knives Out: “A Single Red Dime.”
I hadn’t heard the U.S. has troops from the Florida (!) National Guard in Ukraine. I guess the hurricane season is over?
The political and economic effects of a radical cut in U.S. war and weapons spending would be something to behold. More than half of federal discretionary spending goes to war and weapons. Interestingly, the hawks always talk about GDP, using that number to suggest that military spending is actually too low.
The military has become a jobs program; it’s become a profit-making exercise; it’s military Keynesianism. If and when the money spigot is finally turned off (or seriously down), the U.S. will likely slip into a recession with tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of troops and “defense” workers thrown out of work and onto the dole. Imagine the hay that right-wing politicians will make out of that “betrayal” of “our” troops. The Capitol riot of January 6th will look like a school picnic by comparison.
I hear what you’re saying, Mike. Sadly, it seems to me that cutting the “defense” budget in half, whether in one year or seven years, is a goal that’s far too radical for the Fourth Branch of government that controls our national narrative.
We need a president with guts, a Congress with spine, and a mobilized and smart group of people who will fight to curb this militaristic madness. Right now, we don’t have any of these key ingredients.
LikeLiked by 1 person
“We need a president with guts…”
…and how tragic that we could have had one in 2004 or 2008, had the DNC not torpedoed his candidacy. Kucinich alone promised back then to end the wars and drastically downsize the military, while creating a Department of Peace to foster global cooperation. A good friend and fellow Kucinich supporter summed up his candidacy by saying, “I guess it just wasn’t his time. He’s way ahead of the current government in his mindset.” And that’s still true. I have to wonder—and fear—what it will take for the country’s leadership to catch up to Dennis.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yes. Remember how they made fun of Kucinich for his idea of a Peace Dept.
Let’s fight more wars and build more weaponry — look where that’s got us!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yes, the press was initially relentless about cracking on Kucinich. Until the total press black-out came down. Prelude to how Bernie was treated. Makes one wonder how a NON-warmongering, truly FOR-the- people candidate would ever be nominated.
He or she never will be.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Comments are closed.