The Debate: When Does Military Spending ENDANGER America?

Is President Obama going to unilaterally take this country to war in Syria against the wishes of the American people and without the support of our greatest ally, Great Britain?

Before I write about the situation today, I’m going to do a little re-wind and take us back to late October, 2012, and the presidential campaign debates. If you will remember, Governor Romney (the Republican nominee) was all agog about going to war with Iran. It didn’t take much of a seer to know that if he won the election, he was going to lead us into a war with them.

I think that was one reason why he lost that election.

Slowly, and painfully, the American people are beginning to get wise to the fact that these wars aren’t for us and for our protection. The reason why papa’s always gotta have a new war is to feed the demand for profits from those who make money off war.

I wrote this post back then, and I’m going re-post it and one other today to give you something to chew on before we dive into talking about Syria and why we’re being told that young Americans need to die there.

The first presidential election I actually remember in any detail was between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon.

During that election, then Senator Kennedy complained about a missile gap that America needed to fill with more military spending.

In every presidential election since then, there has been one reliable “issue.” Both candidates say we need to spend more money on the military. It was a little different last night, in that President Obama was talking about not raising the spending so fast while Governor Romney chided him for this. Obama’s defense? Military spending had gone up every year of his presidency. That was the brag.

The reason is always the same. We are told that we need to spend, spend, spend on ships, planes, bombs and guns (never, notice our troops) to “keep America safe.”

We have reached a point where military spending on top the table comes to over 50% of our budget. And that’s just the money we know about. A lot of military spending is under the table and off the record. How much of our treasure are we really putting into the military? No one knows.

Let me repeat that: No one knows.

This nation has been at war economically since Pearl Harbor in 1941. What I mean by that is that we have been maintaining a wartime military capable of defending us in an all-out world war on multiple fronts against massive enemies for 70 years. Not only that, but we have set ourselves up as the guardians of the world. Our many military bases around the world are a critical part of the economies of a large number of countries. We are draining our economy and sustaining their economy to maintain a vast network of military bases and installations all over the globe.

Is it any accident that we have also found reasons to actually be at war for most of the past 70 years?

Look back in history at the effects that decades of war has on the economies of the nations who engage in it. Consider the 100 years war and what it did. So far as economics are concerned, America has been in a 70-year war, so that’s not an outrageous analogy.

My question: What are the dangers to the people of America if we continue to blindly believe that we have to keep on increasing our military budget year after year, election after election, into perpetuity? Where is this kind of thinking leading us?

I would like to offer you a few thoughts on that matter. These are not absolutes. They are just thoughts. But I do think we need to at least start a conversation about these things. We are Americans. This is our government, and since it is a democracy, we have a responsibility engage in the questions government raises. We are tasked with thinking things through rather than just blindly accepting the rhetoric of political candidates and pundits.

1. Would we have invaded Iraq if we had a universal draft? When we went to war in World War II, President Roosevelt had sons in uniform. Wealthy and powerful men like Joseph Kennedy had one son who was killed in combat and another who was permanently disabled as a result of injuries from combat. Who does our fighting now? My kids. Your kids. The people who are making money from these wars are totally disconnected from the cost in terms of human life and suffering that our children pay for their profits.

This began in Viet Nam. I came from a poor school. It seemed for a while that all I did was go to the funerals of my friends who a few months before had been driving their cars down the strip every night and now were soldiers killed in action. I didn’t realize at first that this was not happening at the wealthier schools. No one was dying who went to those schools. No one was even serving in the military at all. And this was a time when we did have a draft. But it had become corrupt. If you had money, you could get out of it.

A few years ago, I was at a meeting about how to help the kids in my district. It was convened by then Father, now Bishop Anthony Taylor of the Diocese of Little Rock. People from many walks of life were there. One of them was a recruiter for one of the military services. He said to the kids who were at the meeting, “Would you rather join the military and go to Iraq and die a death with honor, or die on the streets here with no honor?”

What he said resonated with these kids. They saw it as true.

Is that the America we want? Is the new American dream a dream where the “opportunity” we offer a large segment of our population is a choice between death with dishonor on our streets or a death with “honor” in an unnecessary war that was started under false pretenses?

2. How can we spend so much on “defense” and still not provide adequate care for our troops? Our soldiers tell me they don’t have adequate equipment in the field, such as body armor, that many of the sophisticated weapons they are given malfunction in actual combat conditions with dust, rain, heat and cold. They fight one war over there and come home to fight another war for treatment for their injuries here. How can we spend so much money and not take care of our troops?

3. Does “privatizing” military services amount to graft and corruption; to giving contracts to your pals so they can make even bigger bucks off our wars? I know what my answer to this will be. I believe emphatically that this is what is happening.

4. How can we balance the budget if we won’t even talk about cutting in the area where we’re spending over half of our money? How much are we willing to impoverish the American people to finance our military? When does the money we’re spending on it start doing us more harm than good?

5. Does all this vast expenditure of our capital on war making actually keep us safe, or does it endanger our economic survival while keeping us at war with somebody all the time? The young people I represent are fighting our wars. They are not getting rich. But somebody is making money beyond the dreams of avarice out of their service.

I am not advocating that we disarm. I am not a pacifist. I believe in self-defense, both for individuals and nations. But I do not want to see my sons killed and my country bankrupted for wars of empire that serve to advance the interests of multi-national corporations.

That is not self-defense. It doesn’t keep my country safe. It endangers us all.

I haven’t discussed the moral issues involved in all this. But they are some of the most important and least discussed of any moral issues facing this nation.

Last night’s debate was predictable in that no one talked about or was even asked if being economically in a world war for 70 straight years might be harming our economy. No one suggested that wars which are fought by kids from the poor neighborhoods while everyone else sits home safe, fed and fat are not democratic wars. I didn’t hear a peep about the graft and corruption involved in military contracts.

Not one word.

All I heard was the usual electioneering blather about who was spending the most to “keep America safe.” Maybe it’s time we at least asked other questions that demand different answers.

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  • Mr. V.

    Wow. Well, your post raises a lot of questions, and actually touches on a lot of issues related to the military, so it’s hard to comment on it as there are so many things that could be said and/or discussed.

    I’ll touch on in this comment the amount of wasteful spending in the military. To be sure, it does happen, and at times, dramatically so. $500 nails, anyone? But in truth, this is less a criticism of the military itself than a criticism of spending by every federal agency. Truth be told, they all spend countless amounts of money every year that could be better and more wisely spent, if at all. Almost every agency spends money every year on things that really, they don’t actually need. The argument goes that if the money is not spent, then next year their budget will be cut, so they have to spend the money in order to prevent budget cuts. We need to get rid of that mindset, and cut out the needless spending, in the armed forces but also in all the other federal agencies as well.

  • Rebecca Hamilton

    Steve, I think you’re right. We need to begin that (at least with the military) by putting away the idea that we should never question military spending. That’s not responsible use of tax-payer dollars. We need to look at how all our money is spent to make sure it serves our nation’s interest and the interests of the american people; including money for the defense. It should be FOR DEFENSE, not just an automatic raid on the treasury.

    • Mr. V.

      Oh, I agree. I remember when I was stationed in Panama, from 88 – 89. It was established, because of the agreement worked out by Jimmy Carter when he was president, that by the year 2,000 most all of our military would be gone from Panama, except for maybe a small group. In spite of that, we were doing things like spending several hundred thousands of dollars building expensive playgrounds and outdoor activity areas for the families of servicemembers.

  • Mr. V.

    On the issue of a universal draft, I would have to say I do believe there was corruption, and people avoiding military service during the Vietnam era. There were many rich kids who got out of military service in a variety of ways because of the parent’s wealth. I don’t believe however that one can say that there were no upper class young men joining the military at all. There were many men from all walks of life who voluntarily joined the military during that time. I think that fact gets overlooked because of the dramatic attention given the draft and all those who avoided the draft in various ways.

    Today it’s much the same. I went to Basic Training in ’86, and it would not be accurate to say that only the lower classes were represented. The common thread among all the enlistees was not economic status, but rather a combination of patriotism and the benefits offered by the military. Some were doing it for no other strong reason than the challenge and sense of adventure. Sure, there were those who came in because there weren’t many opportunities for them otherwise, but it would be a stretch to apply that to all of us. I myself enlisted because every man in my family going back to my grandfather’s time all did at least one tour of military service and it was expected that every man in the family would give time in the service of our nation. I grew up listening to stories from my grandfathers, one who was in the Army and one who was in the Marines, and I knew when I turned 18 I would do my part as well. The only question would be which service I chose.

  • arkenaten

    There’s an old maxim that states, see a need and fullfil it and if one sees no need then create one.
    Not a single war America has been involved in since WWII required their participation, Not one.
    And as I have mentioned before, how much enmity was created for 9/11 to have occurred?
    At least it prompted another war, right? And off they went again….
    The States might like to think of themselves as the Global Policeman yet they never set foot in Zim, Rwanda or many highly volatile conflict zones. Why not? Well, for one, no oil. Or no threat to its supply.
    And Zim and Rwanda were not the typical arena test stealth bombers and other such high tech equipment.
    But it’s okay…the US military has god on its side, right? ‘Course they do…;)
    Oh, there is another saying that goes, “Follow the money”.

  • Karyl

    With just a 7th grade education, my dad followed politics carefully. He would say once in a while, “Well, looks as if we need jobs, guess we’ll end up in war somewhere so we can put people to work making war stuff.” Rebecca, I think my dad wasn’t far from the bull’s eye. There are loop holes all over the place including military spending. Now, use your voice to help stop the use of money where it should not be going. That would be a first step. The military, however, seems to be a “sacred cow.”

    • arkenaten

      I think the term is Cash Cow, Karyl.

  • snowygreen

    Amazing post, thank you for raising this important issue!

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you!

  • vickie

    A long time ago, i had a conversation with post-grad colleague from another country about biomedical research. She was questioning it because to paraphrase, “There are too many people, we don’t need more medical care. Sometimes I think we need a bomb…’ I brought up to her -where would we be if all the geniuses working on military marvels, worked invent constructive marvels. There is an interview with David Stockman on your tube, where he says his biggest error was putting forward an economic policy where people can have huge defense spending and entitlements without having to pay for it.

  • Ted Seeber

    The first presidential campaign I can remember was between Ford and Carter. I wanted to vote for Ford because that was the name on my toy tractor. My younger brother, not to be outdone, wanted to vote for John Deere.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I suppose I could vote for both of them then, since they’re both “hams!” :-)

  • Ted Seeber

    Comment # 2, more on topic. I believe that America could be adequately defended entirely with drones limited to four fronts: The Canadian Front, the Mexican Front, the Atlantic Front, and the Pacific Front. I see NO REASON WHATSOEVER for those drones to ever range more than 12 miles outside of our land borders, and well within our airspace.

    I also believe that such an armed force could be so automated with modern secure communications to be run adequately with a force of less than 50 men from Mt. Cheyenne in Wyoming.

    It is possible to use drones morally- but we’d have to return to St. Augustine of Hippo’s Just War rules. I suspect I could do it on contract for less than $200,000,000.

    Oh, we’d also have to cut diplomatic ties with the Middle East to do so. And any other region dominated by a religion struggling with the Age of Reformation period of their history.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      LOL !!! I know you didn’t mean this to be funny, but it really hit my giggle bone.
      “Oh, we’d also have to cut diplomatic ties with the Middle East to do so. And any other region dominated by a religion struggling with the Age of Reformation period of their history.”

      • Ted Seeber

        Well, partially funny- and partially based on my personal theory of religious evolution.

        It’s 1392 by the year of the Prophet, do you remember what Christianity was like in 1392? And what happened immediately afterwards and over the next 400 years or so?

        This is only the beginning, and things are going to get VERY scary in Islam for a while.

        Not exactly something that civilized nations should have to deal with.

        • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

          I do – much more than you do. It was pretty much as it is now. And so was Islam. Your theory is disproved by facts. When in 1291 the Nestorian Bishop Rabban Bar Sawma was sent to the courts of the Pope, France, and England, to explore the possibility of an alliance against the common Muslim enemy, by a Mongol king, the good bishop was astonished to find that countries that had recently experienced war still had regularly tilled fields and inhabited villages and cities; to him, who had experienced Muslim warfare, it was barely credible that a war should not mean the extermination of all the population and the desertification of the fields. He was also very surprised at the idea of electing heads of state, as a city called Genoa did. Western warfare has always been different from Muslim, because, from the beginning, the Church imposed a definite discipline on it – whereas, to the contrary, Muslim theory sees no limit to warfare until the enemy not only has surrendered, but until its surrender has been accepted by the Faithful. So it was then and so it is now.

  • kenneth

    “When does military spending endanger America?” When it becomes an end in itself instead of a means to an end of security. We have long since crossed that line. Our military spending is orders of magnitude beyond any rational notion of “defense.” Our spending and weapons infrastructure are sufficient to defend a couple of planets our size. No, ours is an imperial army. Like all empires, we have been seduced into the delusion that we are history’s final perfect product ,and that we can maintain such a monopoly on power that we will stand unchallenged until the end of time itself.

    Every empire since the dawn of history has believed that, and every one of them has been wrong. all empires collapse as their military spending eats them alive. All of the reserves, then the debt capacity, go to reinforcing military power while the real strength of the nation, it’s human capital and social culture, decay. The tree looks its strongest just before it falls, when the insides have rotted out. We are on the downslope of that curve. We still have the strongest armies, but we’ve spent trillions we don’t have, and we’re not a strong nation in any of the internal ways that matter. The standard of living and economic mobility, for most people, are much less than what their parents or grandparents had. We are not really the center of innovation and up and coming big ideas anymore. The countries that are poised to be the next big thing are investing in the things that matter, and are laughing (and profiting) as we spend ourselves to death on weapons and wars which are primarily created to justify more wars.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      This is an excellent yardstick.
      ““When does military spending endanger America?” When it becomes an end in itself instead of a means to an end of security. “

  • EMS

    It was a Republican and a real war hero, not the armchair warriors who’ve been running things for a long time, who warned of the dangers of the “miliatry industrial complex” back in the 50′s. And no one paid any attention. Another problem now is the warped idea that we don’t have to pay for the wars that are started. Instead, there’s the sheer stupidity of cutting taxes rather than raising them to pay for wars. With that kind of logic in the past, we’d still be paying for WWII, if not WWI. With all the talk about saddling grandchildren with the current debts that are piling up, no one dares to suggest that using taxes to pay for those wars in progress would take care of that.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I’ve thought about these things too. In World War II, they sold war bonds to help pay for it. Now, when we’re spending much more than we did in WWII, we cut taxes and behave as if the money we’re spending isn’t real.

      • kenneth

        We got away with the illusion that it wasn’t real for a long time. It was always assumed the United States was good for its debt and had unlimited credit. The Chinese, who have vast reserves of cash from our surrender of manufacturing to them, were always willing to lend to us. Now, the debt load is so heavy and the structural deficit so hopeless, that loaning to us is considered a poor risk. Business is so nervous about our financial problems that they’ve put us into permanent recession. Nobody wants to hire or expand or risk anything. Our unemployment rate in this country, our REAL rate, is upwards of 20%. If we look at the number of people who are seriously underemployed and producing and earning far less than their talents, it’s easily 50%.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          That’s hard reading, but we all need to think this through and face these things.

        • Ted Seeber

          Never thought I’d agree with Kenneth in this blog. Oh, and the labor utilization rate, in the United States, is now below 35%. Of course, that includes the retired, the disabled, and children in with “unemployed” being over 65% of the population.

          I wonder that the labor utilization rate was when we had single breadwinner families?

      • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

        I also think that the irresponsible and superstitious attitude of GW Bush towards taxation and spending had a poisonous influence over the whole of national US politics. Say what you will of Bill Clinton, he had managed to straighten out the budget to some extent. Bush insisted on tax cuts even when it meant breaking his word to some of his Christian constituents (he sacrificed a number of faith-based programs to the cuts) while he effectively raised expenditure, on the superstitious grounds that people being less taxed would work and produce more and thus make up the shortfall. Well, not only did it not work, not only did it shoot the budget downwards again, but it also, in my view, encouraged all the worst habits of congressmen. It is my very strong impression that there was an explosion of pork and in particular of the execrable practice of adding a spending clause at the last minute to a wholly unrelated bill; but why should Congress keep fiscal discipline if the President had been the first to throw it overboard?

    • kenneth

      The strategy of the war industry since Vietnam has been to isolate war budgets and decisions from the public at large. By ending the draft, the military effectively freed itself from the pressure of a citizenry demanding to know what its sons were dying for. By paying for wars entirely on borrowed money, they’ve eliminated the near-term sense of shared sacrifice. Under the rubric of the “War on Terror”, even most members of Congress are not allowed to know the particulars of the billions they’re asked to approve for “defense.”

      They have also tried as much as possible to hide the human costs of war, banning photos of returning coffins for example. Media access in the first gulf war was highly restricted. In the more recent conflicts, things like cell phone video have largely overcome that, but technologies like drones have even further disconnected us from the reality of killing.

  • Fabio P.Barbieri

    There are a number of things that need saying about this, but I shall start from the one where I most disagree with you. Whatever the size of the American military you envisage, the draft is wrong for America. For most of American history, the armed forces were volunteer and professional. And for this there is a reason. The draft works well for those countries, such as most countries in continental Europe, where the main issue was the defence of the national territory. The draft was a universal reality in Europan countries affected by the Napoleonic experience – primarily France, Italy and Germany. It was resisted in Austria and in Russia until 1914, because it threatened the class bases of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian armies; the Prussians, typically, finding a way to maintain both the class-based power structure and the efficient use of the country’s resources. In general, the draft was regarded as an equalizing experience, educating the lower classes into public duty and beliefs and bringing the higher ones to live cheek by jowl with people they might never otherwise meet. (And I can testify that this effect was real; my best friend in the Italian army, in which we were among the last conscript classes, was a young shepherd from the deep south who spoke only his own dialect and had left school at ten to work in the mountains.)

    From the purely military point of view, I think that the experience of European countries all points one way. Conscript armies are for the defence of national territory. In that cause, they will fight better than professional armies; as Basil Liddell Hart pointed out, no professional army could have borne the kind of losses the British took at the Somme (and, I would add, the appalling disaster suffered by the Italians at Caporetto) without disintegrating, and still fighting till victory. But they are no good for colonial/overseas wars, and for all practical purposes they were never employed there. That is why the British never had a conscript army until 1914 – all their wars were colonial or at any rate overseas. To conquer and police colonies, European powers set up local units with local men officered by European professionals (askaris) or professional long-service units such as the French Foreign Legion or the whole British Army. It is probably no coincidence that the British Empire was dissolved – it was a conscious act, and could have been avoided – when Great Britain had the bad idea of garrisoning it with conscript soldiers. The British Army was conscript from 1940 to 1958; the British Empire had essentially been abandoned by 1960. And you can’t tell me that is a mere coincidence: British conscripts sent to fight against native rebels, to support rule by unelected minorities, to be used as cannon fodder in distant wars of which they and their families knew nothing, would have pretty unedifying tales to take home. None of this would have happened if the same armed forces had been staffed, as they are now, with men whose business is simply to fight where and when told. I think one reason why no European country wanted to help the Americans in Vietnam is that their experience would have told them that to deploy conscripts in an overseas theatre of operations would have been very hazardous.

    America never had, and still does not have, any need for heavy defence of the national territory; any problem that arises with Canada – if ever! – or Mexico can be straightened out by police and the occasional local force. And as a matter of fact, America did start with something very close to the draft. The only land armed force mentioned in the Constitution is the “well-organized militia” of the Second Amendment, and before the French Revolution and the invention of national conscription, militia was a term for a local voluntary defence force. But American territory was so secure that even those militias grew unnecessary and just vanished, leaving behind just a legal excuse for the uncontrolled possession of arms, while the Government set up – not in violation of the Constitution, but certainly outside its provision – a small body of permanent land and sea forces which was the core from which the current Army developed. The militia died as an entity quite simply because it was not needed; how much more, then, a conscript army!

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Actually Fabio I agree with you. I can certainly see where you’d get the idea that I’m advocating a universal draft, considering the way I wrote that, but I was actually just making the point that the people who make money from our wars and who decide whether or not we go to war are not the ones fighting our wars.

      In America, any war we fight should be fought by everyone. If it’s not worth that, then we should not go to war. If you don’t see Bill Gate’s kids, the Bush grandsons alongside the kids of these fabulously wealthy media pundits who sell these wars in uniform and in battle, then it’s not worth going to war. American troops should never be committed as if they were characters in an on-line game, which is essentially what has been happening.

      My point (however awkwardly I made it) was that we probably wouldn’t have had these unnecessary wars if the people who make money off the wars were fighting them alongside the kids from my high schools. Would we have invaded Iraq if the students at Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale would have had to cut short their education and go fight? I don’t think so.

    • Ted Seeber

      I would argue that all the uses of a professional army- PARTICULARLY wars of colonialism, invasion, and conquest- are in and of themselves immoral.

      • Fabio P.Barbieri

        That is the facile view of a man who will never have to make the choice. The difference is paper thin at best. When Jefferson carried out the Louisiana Purchase, sent Lewis and Clark to explore the distant West, and sent the navy and Marines to Tripoli, was he being imperialistic? of course he was. He was also protecting the future of his country and defending its seaborne trade from Barbary pirates; and at any rate he could not do otherwise. With the Barbary pirates, in particular, he tried every peaceful arrangement possible till the facts showed plainly to him that the only language they would hear was the language of cannon.

  • Fabio P.Barbieri

    As for privatization, of course it’s graft. But the whole military supply system is in constant danger of turning into a system of corruption. The military contractor has been a crook since the days of Caesar Augustus, and the reason is obvious: with the exact opposite of a free market – the military buyer is always single – the easiest way for would-be army supplier to defeat any rivals is the purchase of the purchaser. Probably the least bad way to cope with this problem is to take as much of the production needed by the military in-house as possible; the Venetian navy in the days of its greatness was built in the great dockyards of the Arsenal.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I think you’re right Fabio. Our government has been going the opposite way as fast as it can. The way government money was shifted to Halliburton is worse than a scandal. I’m searching for the word for what it actually was.

      • Fabio P.Barbieri

        All western Ministries of Defence are hives of corruption. Some twenty years ago, by pure chance, a very minor employee in Britain’s MoD was caught taking bribes. He was in charge of purchasing ammunition, and the chief seller had paid him at least GBP 1,700,000 (in money of the time, that would be about double the value now). If this insignificant figure could win the lottery like that, how much more managers and generals? And there is one aspect, not commonly considered, that probably does even more damage. When America was fighting a war she really wanted to win, she did not bother too much about having the best technology. It had one or two advanced items, such as the famous Norden bombsight, but most of her weapons were nothing special: ugly little Sherman tanks, that could be picked off by a single shot from a German Tiger, and clumsy, slow Liberty ships. But they made them in the thousands. I was told a story of an Italian artilleryman in WWII who kept picking off American tank after American tank – till he literally ran out of ammo and had to scamper, because the Shermans were still coming. It was the Germans who became obsessed with high tech – especially at the end of the war, when they were losing – and developed splendid Tiger and King Tiger tanks, jet aircraft, schnorkel submarines, and long-range V1 and V2 rockets. And they lost. The modern Pentagon idea that every weapon they have must be the technologically most advanced one possible is bad in itself and an absolute gateway to overpricing and robbery. One has to wonder why modern tanks are so much more expensive than even German Tigers were; and why a tiny nation such as Israel has been able to build up a whole defence industry, from the Uzi – beloved of every thug for its efficiency – to the Merkaba tank, admittedly the best in the world, when their whole budget probably could not cover one American project. Evidently the Israelis pay for what they get and nothing more.

  • http://0 David Perry

    We should always learn from history but we never do. History just keeps repeating itself. Lets look at the last 100 years. Wars devastated & bankrupted Europe. The First World War destroyed the old empires of Europe. The Zars fell in Russia which produced the Bolsheviks & nice people like Stalin,who murdered more of his own people than Hitler did. The Austrian Hugarian fell apart. The Ottoman empire collapsed. Out of this mess was crated hyper inflation & the rise of Hitler with another war just 20 years after the first one. Europe again was lain to waste. The British Empire financially bankrupt collapsed. Japan was reduced to rubble & was nuked. Communism over ran half of eastern Europe. China went communist & to stay in the Guinness book of records as no 1 , Chairman Mow murdered 30 million of his own people.The Soviets nearly wiped us out in what was going to be the final war, a nuclear one in Cuba in 1962. Russia eventually went bankrupt with the arms race & communism was confined to the history books in 1990. The Middle East will probably be the final war, a nuclear war destroying the planet. The people who make money from these wars, the bankers, the corporates, the politicians will eventually be able to sit in there big houses & die slowly of radiation poisoning. As they said about ancient Rome it wasnt the fact that it collapsed but it was surprising how long it lasted with all the wars it fought. The same will be said of the human race.

  • Bob Seidensticker

    Great points. The US has 5% of the world’s population but contributes IIRC 45% of the world’s defense budget. It’s hard to make the argument that we’re not spending enough on defense–and very easy to argue that we might want to reassign our budget.

  • Theresa

    Excellent points, although I don’t necessarily see some of them as bad things. Our overseas locations, while helping out foreign economies, goes a long way toward improving our national security, deterring anti-American activities (terrorism for example), and strengthening alliances. There is enormous value in the simple relationships formed between service members and local bakers, restaurant owners etc. Yes, we seem to police the world, but who else should we trust with our safety? I don’t mean to sound egotistical but we are one of the largest nations and, in an ever-increasing global economy, so many countries are dependent on the US. Dare I say with great power comes great responsibility? We need to pay our service members, ESPECIALLY our junior enlisted personnel, a more livable wage. Even without being engaged in a conflict that involves troops or planes, we are essentially in a constant state of war, and not because we are necessarily perpetuating it. We face constant cyber attacks. People are always plotting ways to hurt/kill Americans and our allies. We have to be able to respond to those real threats. Also, even though our military takes a lot of our federal budget, it does open up a lot of opportunities for our domestic economy. Manufacturing opportunities, R&D, local businesses that help support stateside installations, hardware and software development to name a few. There are a lot of dominoes that would fall if we cut military spending.

    Oh, I think we should reinstate the draft. Even for college students. I think Israel has such a system. And, if you choose to be a conscientious objector, you automatically forfeit your 2nd Amendment rights. (Just my thoughts on that one.) :)

    • FW Ken

      I don’t disagree about the universal draft. If the children of big-wigs, corporate and political, were in the military, the big-wigs would think twice before sending us to war.
      I’m less sure about keeping an American presence everywhere. Some of those relationships with locals aren’t that nice. And there is also resentment of the big brother pulling strings. It’s complicated, though, and I wouldn’t be dogmatic one way or the other. We should pay our soldiers fairly, though, taking into consideration housing, medical, and other benefits.

  • Dave

    Well, neither current party is going to do anything about it. Just like the Republican Party talks a pretty good game about abortion, but doesn’t do much about it, the Democratic Party talks a pretty good game about peace, but is just as bad as the GOP, if not worse when the rubber hits the road.

    Drone assassinations, anyone? Some people have made a reasonable argument that we should vote for Romney because, then, at least when Romney does the same ridiculous crap that Obama does, the media would call him on it.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      True Dave. It sounds like it’s up to us to lead from behind.

  • Manny

    Implied in there is that the military industry manipulates or persuades the president of either party to take military action. Hogwash! Since WWII the US has accepted responsibility for maintaining world stability. If you don’t want the US to police the world any longer, then you accept responsibility for the consequences. No American president wants the blame for allowing the world to sink into chaos, including President Obama who is as close to a radical Liberal as they come. I don’t usually care for John Kerry but that was his finest hour yesterday. I was a bit of a fence sitter on this action, but he convinced me. On to Syria, but they have to do more than launch missiles. They have to make Assad hurt.

    • hamiltonr

      You’re living in fantasy land Manny. Of course the military industrial complex “manipulates and persuades” the president of either party to take military action.

      “Implied in there is that the military industry manipulates or persuades the president of either party to take military action. Hogwash!”

      Aside from the fact that we’re sending Americans to die and entangling this country in yet another war, who’s gonna pay for all this?

      You’re a conservative. How does that jibe with spending money like a drunken sailor on shore leave when it comes to the military?

      On to Syria?????

      Don’t you think the Congress ought to a least vote on it, or are you in favor of war by presidential fiat?

      We’re not out of all our other wars yet.

      We’ve been at war economically since WWII and it is destroying this country economically.

      We’ve been in a hot war since 2001.

      And now it’s “on to Syria???”

      “Letting the world sink into chaos???” What about not letting this country sink into bankruptcy? What about using our military to protect the American people? Do you actually accept the idea that we are the world’s cops?

      I thought our military was to protect us.

      There are lots of other countries we can go to war with, you know. There are bad people, everywhere. Let’s just go to war with everybody.

      • hamiltonr

        Uh … Manny … I apologize for the way I said that. I’ve been apologizing a lot lately for being too harsh. Maybe I need to take a look at myself. Again, apologies.

        • Manny

          That’s ok. I didn’t think it was harsh.

      • Manny

        “Of course the military industrial complex “manipulates and persuades” the president of either party to take military action.”
        Show me the evidence. Otherwise that’s just a conspiracy theory, no different than the conspiracy theories Michael Voris claims in that the Bishops are colluding with “professional” Catholics to undermine the faith.
        Presidents doesn’t always have to go to Coingress in limited affairs. This is not a war. This is a brief action, probably without any ground troops and no one in the line of fire. If the President intends to use ground troops, which I would support, then he should go to Congress. Otherwise it’s within his perogative not to.
        The country is not going into bankruptcy because of defense spending. Since WWII there has been a consensus within our government leaders of both parties that we need to be assertive to prevent future world wars.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      I don’t want to be paying for “World Stability”. We have only one order of business in Syria, and it ain’t revenge- it is extracting refugees.

  • howard hoffman

    it is insane to send our boys and now girls to fight hand to hand combat , while providing rules of engagement. we did not defeat germany and japan using these rules of engagement , and probably there were mistakes made , innocent woman and children of the enemy were killed during world war two.. there were woman and children in the world trade center and our enemy , did not care. after we were attacked on 9 / 11 , we should have given warning to whoever would interfere that our I C B M’s are armed , ready to fire , and sent our B – 52′s over and carpet bombed afghanistan. bush should have been impeached for going to war with the wrong nation , iraq. it was and still is iran , syria , hezbollah iran has stated that america is the big snake and israel is the little snake that must be destroyed. the total destruction of iran is way overdue. once more , there were women and children in the world trade center and they shed no tears.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Syria has become a rat hole. Extract the Syriac Catholics, and anybody else who wants to leave their weapons at home, then let the rest of the idiots burn themselves out.