2315 The accumulation of arms strikes many as a paradoxically suitable way of deterring potential adversaries from war. They see it as the most effective means of ensuring peace among nations. This method of deterrence gives rise to strong moral reservations. The arms race does not ensure peace. Far from eliminating the causes of war, it risks aggravating them. Spending enormous sums to produce ever new types of weapons impedes efforts to aid needy populations; it thwarts the development of peoples. Over-armament multiplies reasons for conflict and increases the danger of escalation.

2316 The production and the sale of arms affect the common good of nations and of the international community. Hence public authorities have the right and duty to regulate them. The short-term pursuit of private or collective interests cannot legitimate undertakings that promote violence and conflict among nations and compromise the international juridical order.

The great thing about passages like this from the Catechism is that they don’t contain the phrase “Simon Peter says” and so, as I have learned from both Progressives and Reactionary Dissenters, you can safely ignore them with the magic words “prudential judgment” (which is Latin for “this threatens my political tribe, so shut up!”). All you have to do is make the case that sober, rock-ribbed Republican analysis shows that it is wild-eyed crazy utopianism to spare a single cent from a military budget that makes Jabba the Hutt look slim and fit, and that besides nobody will even miss all those starving people, so why even try? Ignore the fact that you could cut our $663.8 billion military budget by 90% and it would still be the largest in the world.  Close with a snort about ivory tower theologians and their crazy dreamscape world of kumbaya hippie socialism. Pat yourself on the back for providing the well-grounded realpolitik perspective that keeps loony celibates who know nothing about real life from intruding on the smooth, well-oiled working of the democratic capitalist military-industrial complex that has things well in hand. Carve eight days of spending from the world’s military budget? Next they’ll be saying we can send a man to the moon or cure polio! What a bunch of utopian maroons!

HT: Caelum et Terra

  • http://dukuhead69.blogspot.com/ pierre

    I know my country’s government spends a lot of money purchasing at grossly-inflated prices mostly out-of-date re-conned submarines, air craft, APCs, etc. All of which hardly upgrades our defence capabilities but DOES put a LOT OF MONEY in the pockets of our politicians and their defence contractors. It’s a HUGE industry mired in corruption and shady deals. We can’t stop it because the money is just too good. In one unfortunate deal, a girl was murdered and then her murder was covered up at the highest levels. Pay-offs and the connivance of authorities at the highest levels helped to hush up the matter. As you rightly point out, it’s really obscene. But we’re helpless against so much money.

  • Dan C

    Actually, you can hear different conservatives argue both ways-that the military does so much good and that these clauses are not binding magisterial teaching.

  • Marthe Lépine

    Come on, Mark, you keep ignoring the most important aspect of this: “Everybody knows” that corporations, who’se only social responsibility is to make money for their shareholders (including those among their own executives who get large stock options as part of their pay packages), absolutely need, in order to be taken seriously by “the markets”, to increase both their sales and their profits each and every quarter of each and every year. Therefore, when a corporation is in the business of developing and marketing ever more lethal weapons, they need purchasers. It is necessary for the US government to purchase these weapons, otherwise they will need to be sold to terrorists! Then your government can re-sell “surplus” to other governments, such as ours, led by carefully bred and indoctrinated allied politicians…

  • Matthew

    Just curious – does the 30 million referenced in the yellow poster refer to a one-time expenditure, or is it for every meal we provide three times a day. I don’t doubt we could do A LOT more to eliminate world hunger but I am a little sceptical of that number as an absolute figure to eliminate world hunger permanently.

  • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

    As long as I can, on the Last Day, blame rock-ribbed Republicans for not listening to me, rather than myself for eating steak when others ate nothing, I think I’ll be fine.

    • James

      Amen! Or perhaps when we take that annual vacation instead of sending the money to the poor.

  • Joseph

    Tom K.,

    Bam. Michael Jackson sang a song much related to the Gospel… “I’m looking at the man in the mirror… I’m asking him to change his ways… If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make a change…”

  • Alicia

    It’s difficult to have a substantive conversation when the host writes this: “prudential judgment” (which is Latin for “this threatens my political tribe, so shut up!”).”

    THAT response tends to shut people up, too.

  • http://distributistatlarge.blogspot.com/ M Clark

    The number seems too low. It would cost far more than that to invade Somalia, smash up all the warlords and ensure the food shipments were not stolen and hoarded. And that’s just one country. How much to pacify and occupy every other country where the food would not make it to the actual people who need it?

  • Sean O

    Most people, even those who vigorously defend our military spending, simply dont comprehend the colossal scale of that spending. The US spends more on defense than the rest of the world combined.

    Like the wealth imbalance in our country, people fail to grasp the scale of what is going on. The richest 400 US families have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans – 400 families have more than 1/2 the US population. This is beyond jaw dropping and most people don’t know or comprehend this.

  • Yankee Catholic

    What is the source for the 30 billion dollars number?

    • Tim

      Source? It’s a yellow poster! When Yellow Poster speaks, do not ask, just occupy.

  • victor

    Unfortunately, without the military there’d be no way of getting the food past the people who have a vested interest in starving their people and to the hungry people who need it. Money is only part of the answer: you still have to get the food to the hungry and that sometimes takes guns.

    • Mark Shea

      Granted. But I’m willing to bet that job could be done even if we carved a few pennies out of the gargantuan and wasteful budget.

      • victor

        Agreed! I guess we’ll cut our military spending when China cuts theirs, which they’ll do right after Taiwan cuts theirs, which will happen after North Korea cuts theirs, which will be after South Korea cuts theirs….

        • victor

          …which will occur after Luxembourg cuts their military spending, which is wholly dependent on Malta cutting theirs first, which they won’t do until the Vatican cuts at least 10% of the Swiss Guard (maybe 12 guys).

          So, bascially, it’s all the Vatican’s fault. They’re singlehandedly propping up the world’s militaries and starving the hungry.

    • Yankee Catholic

      We do need make significant military cuts. Close overseas bases and evaluate every program. We cannot afford to continue to spend at the rate we are spending. We spend far more on our military than any other country. We need a defense, but we need to spend more wisely.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    As I recall, we spend 3 times the rest of the world combined.

  • Chris-2-4

    And of course, EVERYONE KNOWS that not one thin dime of military spending ever went to pay the wages of a single worker. Ever. In fact, the world’s militaries have developed (labor free) the ability to actually spend money that disappears from the global economy entirely.

    Soldiers like to eat too. So do researchers, scientists, construction and factory workers.

    Don’t begrudge the worker his wages.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    No one’s begrudging any worker his wage, just suggesting some might go find decent work instead.

    You smell of sulphur, btw.

    • Ann

      Excuse me? “find decent work”? Are you saying that being in the military is not decent work? The men and women of the US Military (Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines) are proud to spend their lives guaranteeing you the right to free speech so that you can say stupid things. Do you know any of these men and women? They are the finest, most decent folks you would want to know. My husband spent 20 years in the Navy and is now working with civilians and quite frankly civilians leave a lot to be desired in terms of work ethic, maturity and education. Not to mention the fact that most men and women in uniform are on the right side of the culture wars. That is not to say the budget couldn’t be cut but I don’t think that is what this post or comment is about. It is really about getting some cheap shots in at folks you don’t agree with rather than having a civil conversation. Very disappointing. Mark Shea has some good things to say, too bad he can’t say them without being nasty as it stops the conversation. No conversions with his method but as long as he feels good at the end of the day. Like I said, the men and women in uniform are proud to guarantee the right to free speech even if it is stupid, unhelpful or unkind.

      • Mark Shea

        I said not one single word against our troops. Not one word. Defence contractors are not our troops. They are rich corporations who make a fortune overcharging for the hardware of war.

        Please tell your husband (and your family) that I am grateful for the sacrifices you have made on behalf of the rest of us.

        • Ann

          Mark, your original article and comments use a broad brush to indict the military. Re reading it, I don’t see that you distinguished who you were indicting. As you know, there are many pieces of this pie-active duty, civ. govt workers, and def. contractors to name a few. Off the top of my head, I don’t know what the breakdown is budget wise. Do weapons systems cost a lot? Yes, but so do wages and benefits to the uniform and civ. personnel. And please keep in mind, previous attempts to cut the military have neglected to address or change the fundamental questions of policy, goals, cost of freedom, etc. We cannot maintain our level of freedom on the cheap. We cannot retreat to our borders and expect that the world outside those borders will be safe. And yes, we took on the role of keeping the world safe after WWII when no one else was left standing. And WWII proved that nations cannot retreat to their borders and expect peace to reign. We do have honorable, noble goals that are worth pursuing. My husband is currently in Afghanistan with the Army Corps of Engineers (he is civ. govt) buidling projects to help the Afghanis long term. Honorable and noble but perhaps futile. I take great umbrage that the work the uniform and civ. personnel are doing is not decent work as stated by one poster. Shame on them. These kinds of conversations need to take into acct. not just the thick skinned bureaucrats but the folks on the front lines and their families. Civilians who have never worn a uniform or deployed have no idea what is sacrificed to do the job the country has asked to be done. You personally may not have asked, but as part of the collective that is the people of the US you have asked. The people deployed, by and large, are honorable, noble, hard working and are doing their best to do a good job and be good to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. To leave something worthwhile behind. I am sorry but your post and many of the comments, did not distinguish between greedy contractors and those that you wish to thank. These converstations never do distinguish. I have listend to the same diatribe on talk radio from conservative types and it is the same broad brush.
          Yes, I guess my husband should “find decent work” then he could be home with us and attend the Father Daughter Dance that he will miss this weekend. But instead he took a job after 6 months of looking that entailed sacrifice because he wanted to take care of us with food, shelter and clothes. I wonder if the poster with that comment would think that is decent or not. God bless. I admit that your writing makes me mad at times but does make me think.

          • Mark Shea

            I repeat. I said not a word about our troops. It is politicians, not the troops, who make the decisions about the massive outlays of cash for defense. How the suggestion that carving eight days of spending out of the global military budget works out to insulting our troops is something I cannot fathom.

      • Hezekiah Garrett

        I’m a US veteran, honorably discharged.

        You do know the bulk of our military spending doesn’t go to pay the wages of soldiers and sailors, don’t you? No, I had in mind the guys designing and manufacturing the next great way to kill lots or few people from a great distance with more and more impersonalisation.

        I can readily see how you folks sent Dubya and the Won to rule you though.

        • Ann

          “I can readily see how you folks sent Dubya and the Won to rule you though.”
          What does this mean?

  • IntellectGetOne

    2317 “Insofar as men are sinners, the threat of war hangs over them and will so continue until Christ comes again;”

    2314 “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.”

    So there you now have the truth (not the half the author chooses). No one is in favor of war — least of all military men and women. No one is in favor of spending more for a military than is needed — least of all conservatives and Republicans.

    But as the Catechism teaches us: man is sinful.

    So long as countries like Iran, North Korea, Hitler’s Germany, etc exist — and so long as all other countries of the world abdicate THEIR military responsibilities (to pursue social spending, of course!) — the world risks the sudden and complete annihilation of millions (billions?) of human lives.

    And so we need the deterrent of a military and its powerful weapons.

    That the USA is the only world power with the Catholic virtues of prudence, justice, restraint and courage, to act — while the rest of the world buries it’s collective head in the ground — is no reason to ask our military to surrender its strength. Didn’t your mother every ask you: If Johnny jumped off a building, would you jump off after him?

    Some recognize that the Catechism teaches the wise and virtuous to remain steadfast to stop the spread of evil in the world. Those select few ensure the protection of mankind — not for greed, but solely for love, faith and hope. They must, and do, use prudence, courage, fortitude and wisdom to set their military strength.

    For those of you who do not understand that and who ascribe greed, hatred, self-centeredness to those brave few, I suggest confession. I should also note those of you also have no clue how to run a military, or could even comprehend what the direct and indirect threats are, etc.

    And so I ask: Is it too much to ask you not to mock that which you do not understand?

    • Mark Shea

      Yes. Clearly my point was to mock the military and call for the disbanding of all national defense.


    • Marthe Lépine

      And tell me please, who has designated the US as the saviour of the world? So far I have not noticed much dedication to peace and world prosperity coming from the US. What I have noticed, though, is pre-emptive strikes (considered immoral by the Church) based on false beliefs about weapons of mass destruction in a country known for its oil resources (Iraq); invading an entire country and waging war for about 10 years to arrest a criminal who was not even in that country (Afghanistan), armed intervention in support of an uprising in another oil-rich country. In the past there have been such things as, for example, the assassination of a democratically elected leader that the US disapproved of for his so-called socialist tendencies (Chile) in order to replace him with a despot who is world renowned for his crimes against humanity (Pinochet). All excellent examples of the goodwill of the US military might… If I had time I could probably dig out a few more. Thanks but no thanks!

    • c matt

      Those select few ensure the protection of mankind — not for greed, but solely for love, faith and hope

      And if they pick up a few 100 billion in loose change in the process, what’s the harm?

      Seriously, the US does nothing that is not in its national interests, and “national interests” means what the multinational corporations who contribute to elected officials’ campaigns deem is important. Still, even with spending cuts, there would still remain the logistical problems (euphemism for “corruption”) of geting the aid to those who need it.

  • Marthe Lépine

    Sorry, this was meant as a reply to IntellectGetOne, not to Mark. I must have clicked the wrong “reply”.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    I don’t know that I would waste so much time on a Guy who thinks Hitler still runs Germany.

  • Steve Calovich

    “That the USA is the only world power with the Catholic virtues of prudence, justice, restraint and courage, to act….”

    Is that why 1.6 million Iraqis died for no reason???

  • LorenzoCanuck

    Are we doing this tired old trope again?

    Read this http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/apr/01/information-is-beautiful-military-spending The USA only spends 4% of its GDP on the military, a pittance compared to many other countries out there; the reason its military budget is so high is because 1) The US has a lot of money to spend (despite debt, financial crises, etc), 2) The US wants high-quality soldiers who can retire with a generous pension (one friend of mine compared this to China’s approach of paying their soldiers “rice and floggings”).

    Is the US spending too much on the military? Maybe, but we could discuss this using the full spectrum of facts instead of ideological pickiness like Caelum and Terra does far too often.

    • Kirt Higdon

      Of all the world’s countries, the US ranks 11th in percentage of GDP spent on military, but since the US GDP is so high, its actual military spending dwarfs all others. Of the 10 countries which outrank the US in percentage of GDP spent, seven are US allies or client states, including Israel and several Arab countries, two are African countries with no clear alignment and minuscle GDP, and only one, North Korea, is a US enemy. China? Russia? Iran? All spend a smaller percentage of their substantially smaller GDPs on the military than does the US.

      • Erika Evans

        In making these comparisons, it’s important to remember that the US spends a great deal on defense in Europe and Japan that without our outlays they would have to provide themselves.

        • Marthe Lépine

          Could it be that those other countries just do not need that level of “defence”? I cannot recall exactly where I recently read that somebody in Germany was asked if they thought that the US military presence there was useful, and replied that it was just that they really liked the income brought to their local area by the US military… I tend to agree that a lot of the money spent to provide European countries with the defense “they could not provide for themselves” is simply wasted. AND I certainly do not anticipate with any measure of pleasure the time when the US might decide that they need a substantial military presence in my own country… It may well be resented as an invasion by some of the population, although I am not certain about our politicians!

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    The US has a larger military, as a whole, than the next largest 13 militaries in the world, and 11 of those 13 are our allies.

    Are Americans really terrified of their own shadow?

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      The next 13 COMBINED, I meant to say…

  • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

    So who has seen the $30 billion /year plan to eradicate hunger? Is it held up in committee somewhere? I’d be happy to encourage my representatives to support it.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Actually your country could start with a plan to eradicate its own deficit!

      • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

        Why did you post that comment?

        • Marthe Lépine

          Well, it seems obvious that a certain amount of trimming to those military expenditures would make a difference to that deficit… Such large amounts of defense expenditures suggest a large organization, and I bet there is a lot of waste of taxpayers’ money there as well.

  • http://proecclesia.blogspot.com Jay Anderson

    You could see the plan, Tom, but someone would first have to pull it out of their ass, from which same source the $30 billion number was also apparently extracted.

  • enness

    Obviously the complexity of the issue needs to be reduced to a sound bite that fits in a space approximately the size of an index card. Problem solved!

    If it were exactly that easy, we’d be done with it already. As anyone can see, we are not, it must not be that simple.

    Seriously, Mark…well, I guess it’s my own fault in a way: whenever I see this meme pop up, I ought to know that some cheap points are about to be scored and that’s about it.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    Even if there were no world hunger, the US would still be spending 75% of the world’s military outlay on building stuff to kill anonymous brown and yellow people on the other side of the globe.

    Its what has made this country great since at least the 1890′s. Think anyone’s ditching a winning proposition like that?