Higher Military Spending Leads to Less Security

W.J. Astore

What does “security” mean to you?  My dad had a utilitarian definition.  Born in 1917, he found himself in a fatherless immigrant family with four siblings during the height of the Great Depression.  To help his family survive, he enlisted in the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 and served for two years, earning a dollar a day, most of it sent home to his mother.  For my dad, security meant a roof over one’s head, three square meals a day, and warm clothes on one’s back.  Food, shelter, clothing: it really was that simple.

Of course, you needed to pay for those bare necessities, meaning you needed a job with decent pay and benefits.  Personal security, therefore, hinges on good pay and affordable health care, which many U.S. workers today – in the richest country in the world – continue to scratch and claw for.  Another aspect of personal security is education because pay and career advancement within U.S. society often depend on one’s educational level.  A college education is proven to lead to higher pay and better career prospects throughout one’s life.

Personal security is in many ways related to national security.  Certainly, a nation as large as the U.S. needs a coast guard, border controls, an air force, a national guard, and similar structures for defensive purposes.  What it doesn’t need is a colossal, power-projecting juggernaut of a military at $800+ billion a year that focuses on imperial domination facilitated by 750 overseas bases that annually cost more than $100 billion just to maintain.  True security, whether personal or national, shouldn’t be about domination.  It should be focused on providing a collective standard of living that ensures all Americans can afford nutritious food, a decent place to live, adequate clothing, a life-enriching education, and health care.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower understood this.  In his farewell address as president in 1961, he warned us about the military-industrial complex and its anti-democratic nature.  Even more importantly, he called for military disarmament as a “continuing imperative,” and he talked of peace, which he tied to human betterment, and which he said could be “guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.”  Ike knew that huge, offensive-minded military budgets constituted a theft from the people; even worse, he knew they constituted a betrayal of our national ideals.  A hugely powerful military establishment had “grave implications” to the “very structure of our society,” Ike presciently warned.  We have failed to heed his warning.

Ike, a former five-star U.S. general who led the D-Day invasion in 1944, knew the dangers of funding an immense military establishment

For Ike, true national security was about fostering human betterment and working toward world peace.  It was about securing the necessities of life for everyone.  It entailed the pursuit of military disarmament, a pursuit far preferable to allowing the world to be crucified on a cross of iron erected by wars and weapons manufacturers.

Tragically, America’s “councils of government” no longer guard against militarism; rather, they have been captured, often willingly, by the military-industrial complex.  The “alert and knowledgeable citizenry” that Ike was counting on to hold the line against incessant warfare and wasteful weaponry is largely uninterested, or uninformed, or uneducated in matters of civics and public policy.  Meanwhile, military spending keeps soaring, and the result is greater national insecurity.

In a paradox Ike warned us about, the more money the government devotes to its military, the less secure the nation becomes.  Because security isn’t measured in guns and bullets and warheads.  It’s measured in a healthy life, a life of meaning, a life of liberty. The pursuit of happiness, not eternal belligerence, should be the goal.

Consider the following fable.  A man lives in a castle.  He says he seeks security.  So he digs moats and erects walls and piles cannon ball upon cannon ball.  He posts armed guards and launches raids into the surrounding countryside to intimidate “near-peer” rivals.  He builds outlying fortifications and garrisons them, thinking these will secure his castle from attack.  Meanwhile, his family and relations in the castle are starving; the roof leaks and internal walls are covered in mold; the people, shivering and in rags, are uneducated and in poor health.  Has this man truly provided security for his people?  Would we call this man wise?

Grossly overspending on the military and weaponry — on castles and cannons everywhere — produces insecurity. It’s the very opposite of wisdom. Let’s end this folly, America, and seek human betterment and world peace as Ike advised us to do.

Addendum: these are the words Ike spoke in 1953

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.  It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

17 thoughts on “Higher Military Spending Leads to Less Security

  1. Chris Hedges holds back no punches, eviscerating in no uncertain terms, the dregs of Society calling the shots in the US Power Structure.

    ‘The Pimps of War’

    The same cabal of warmongering pundits, foreign policy specialists and government officials, year after year, debacle after debacle, smugly dodge responsibility for the military fiascos they orchestrate. They are protean, shifting adroitly with the political winds, moving from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party and then back again, mutating from cold warriors to neocons to liberal interventionists. Pseudo intellectuals, they exude a cloying Ivy League snobbery as they sell perpetual fear, perpetual war and a racist worldview, where the lesser breeds of the earth only understand violence.

    They are pimps of war, puppets of the Pentagon, a state within a state, and the defense contractors who lavishly fund their think tanks — Project for the New American Century, American Enterprise Institute, Foreign Policy Initiative, Institute for the Study of War, Atlantic Council and Brookings Institute. Like some mutant strain of an antibiotic-resistant bacteria, they cannot be vanquished. It does not matter how wrong they are, how absurd their theories, how many times they lie or denigrate other cultures and societies as uncivilized or how many murderous military interventions go bad. They are immovable props, the parasitic mandarins of power that are vomited up in the dying days of any empire, including that of the U.S., leaping from one self-defeating catastrophe to the next……………………………………

    https://consortiumnews.com/2022/04/11/chris-hedges-the-pimps-of-war/

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  2. Did you guys see this note on the bottom of Chris’s Post Consortium News?
    Pretty discouraging when a national treasure like Chris Hedges censored out of existence.

    “Author’s Note to Readers: There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestring budget, and I will not waiver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at chrishedges.substack.com so I can continue to post my Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, The Chris Hedges Report.

    This column is from Scheerpost, for which Chris Hedges writes a regular column. Click here to sign up for email alerts.

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    1. Yes, Brother Chris lost his show on RT and much of his livelihood. To revive his show (on his own), he needs money, so he’s going the substack route. I think you can sign up for about $50 a year.

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  3. I signed up for Hedges on Substack, adding him to Taibbi and Greenwald.

    Speaking of Taibbi, here is a nice paragraph from an article of his on Jeff Bezos getting a $7 billion contract to fly to the moon…note the military to private business handout mentioned. The Egyptians built the pyramids, could they have afforded farming them out for profit?

    Taibbi writes of the return to the moon as…”A lofty enough goal, but then there was the fine print. Much as the military once replaced cheap army cafeteria food with Cinnabon franchises and high-cost meals prepared by firms like KBR, and the NIH basically exists to provide free R&D to pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, NASA no longer builds much for itself. Instead, it’s lately become little more than a vehicle for funding the phallic moon race between Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Bezos-owned Blue Origin”.

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  4. “Because China” will be increasingly used to support ever more spending for a war that cannot be fought. Ukraine teaches that lesson, but we will refuse to accept it because pretending we can fight that war is very profitable.

    Take a look here
    and here

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  5. “One of the most horrible features of war is that all the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.”

    – George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia [1938]

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  6. The harsh Western sanctions against Russia and its economic and financial institutions have continued since the Ukraine war’s first day (24th February 2022). The 30-member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) continue to send lethal customised weapons to Ukraine to fight the Russian army. NATO’s goal consists in causing the most significant number of Russian losses and prolonging the war, allowing further demonisation of Russia and isolating it from the West, notwithstanding Europe’s need for Russian energy. Indeed, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)reiterated that the Russian energy export is irreplaceable in the coming years. However, altering Russia’s military plan and tactics provided the army with more modest goals, possibly presupposing that the war in Ukraine would not last long. Nevertheless, it seems that Joe Biden’s administration is determined to keep the fight going as long as possible and increase the provocation of Russia on the European continent…………………….

    https://ejmagnier.com/2022/04/14/%ef%bf%bcwill-europe-replace-the-middle-east-as-the-us-arena-for-future-conflicts/

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  7. You won’t be seeing this in US News Media.
    WHO boss calls out double standards over Ukraine
    The health official says he’s not sure if the world really treats white and black lives equally

    Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has shared his frustration that conflicts in other parts of the world, including his home country of Ethiopia, don’t get as much attention internationally as the events in Ukraine.

    “I don’t know if the world really gives equal attention to black and white lives,” he said during a virtual press conference on Wednesday.

    The crisis in Ukraine deserves attention as “it impacts the whole world,” he acknowledged, but added that “even a fraction of it isn’t being given to Tigray [in Ethiopia], Yemen, Afghanistan and Syria and the rest. A fraction.”

    “I need to be blunt and honest that the world is not treating the human race the same way. Some are more equal than others. And when I say this, it pains me. Because I see it. Very difficult to accept but it’s happening,” the WHO boss pointed out…………………………………………………………

    https://www.rt.com/news/553847-who-ukraine-tigray-yemen/

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