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Freeze & Starve, Citizens! Monster $719 Billion Military Budget from Political Soft on Terror Paranoia & Violent Imperialism


Sherwood Ross in an article entitled “US Endless-War Budget Rolls On” cites the Chalmers Johnson observation that the Pentagon is “close to being beyond civilian control.” I think it is time to remove the word “close” from that chilling conclusion. Ross certainly makes the case, as he parallels the insanely burgeoning and politically uncontested military budget to the horrifying economic quicksand into which the majority of citizens are sinking:

While the number of Americans suffering in poverty increased to 36 million – and as more families lose their homes and lines lengthen at soup kitchens – President Obama has dollars galore to build 67 new warships at a cost of nearly $25 billion, according to a new analysis of his budget by the National Priorities Project of Northampton, Massachusetts.

Yet, according to Wikipedia, “The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined” and it operates 11 super carriers as part of a 286-active ship fleet with 3,700 aircraft able to radiate power on all continents. This is but one example from the Pentagon's Department of Wretched Excess.


So, in fiscal year 2012, which begins next Oct. 1, the Pentagon will just have to struggle along with $719 billion while the president calls for a five-year freeze on “non-security” discretionary spending such as, in the words of former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, “programs the poor and working class depend on – assistance with home heating, community services, college loans, and the like.”


Obama will get a lot of help from the Republican Party, which, of course, will not rein in spending for unjust wars but in a fit of what AFL-CIO's Manny Herrmann calls “budget insanity” plans to chop up Head Start, Pell Grants, food and job safety inspections, eliminate “hundreds of thousands of middle-class jobs,” cut investment in infrastructure, and even cut the money needed “to send out Social Security checks.”

Herrmann might have added Obama also seeks to slash nearly half the federal funds to help low-income families heat their homes.


Example: The New Haven Independent reported Feb. 21 that Mayor John DeStafano is calling for belt-tightening by city workers to bridge a $5.5 million gap in this year's budget and a $22 million gap next year.

Protesters responded by standing in front of City Hall with signs noting that Congress is taking $84 million from the pockets of New Haven residents this year to fight the Iraq-Afghan wars. This scenario is being repeated by cities and states everywhere.

Ross reminds us of those fateful words of Martin Luther King:

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Anyone with half a conscience knows that we are, indeed, tragically close to spiritual death as a nation. Anyone with half a brain knows that there is a logical disconnect in America with the growing economic horror being faced by the vast majority of its citizenry and the insane uncontested billions feeding what Ross calls the "Great American War Machine.”

Many have tried to put the massive amount of what is always called a “bloated military budget” into context. Despite the insulting recent kabuki posturing of Defense Secretary Gates on The NewsHour declaring a willingness to make significant defense cuts, “insane” is the only word for the escalation of military spending.

Ross supplies these context-enabling passages:

As the War Resisters League pointed out two years ago, U.S. military spending, plus funds for U.S. nuclear bombs, “is equal to the military spending of the next 15 countries combined.” (And of those 15 countries, 12 are considered U.S. allies, so where's the threat?)


“As it is, we're pumping ... money into sustaining a fighting force that's orders of magnitude larger than anything retained by any other country,” observed Ezra Klein of The Washington Post on Feb. 14.


The Times added, “The bill for the military is way too high, above cold-war peak levels, when this country had a superpower adversary. There's a point where the next military spending dollar does not make our society more secure, and it's a point we long ago passed.”


While U.S. officials constantly advertise Iran as a menace, it is a fact that the Great American War Machine outspends Iran on military by a ratio of 72 to one. Ditto for that other global threat, North Korea.


Early in the second Bush administration, Michael Chossudovsky, Canadian economist and director of the Centre for Research on Globalization, wrote about the $320-billion then being lavished on the Pentagon: “There is no rationale for this level of military spending other than a clear intent for the United States to be the New World Empire, dominating the globe economically and militarily, including the militarization of space.”

He noted that the U.S. not only possessed laser-guided weapons with the capability of striking anywhere in the planet but under its High Altitude Auroral Rsearch Program (HAARP) had “the ability to destabilize entire national economies through climatic manipulations, without the knowledge of the enemy, and without engaging military personnel and equipment as in a conventional war.”


As William Hartung of the New America Foundation pointed out in “Foreign Policy in Focus” last year, “any real savings in U.S. military spending would need to be accompanied by a reduction in U.S. 'global reach' – in the hundreds of major military facilities it controls in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.”

Yet, he said, “U.S. overseas-basing arrangements have been on the rise, not only in Iraq and Afghanistan themselves but in bordering nations.”
Today, there are approximately 800 U.S. military bases overseas plus an estimated 1,000 stateside. For several years now, the Pentagon has been spending more money for war each year than all state governments combined spend for the health, education, welfare, and safety of 308 million Americans – and Obama is continuing this course.

The Obama administration, US Congress and military industrial security complex -- matrix -- seem sociopathically driven to, on the one hand, convince the hapless struggling citizenry that they are "securing" them against supposed outside boogeyman specters for the sake of winning elections, while on the other hand establishing a new world order of American imperialist world domination “over said Americans’ dead bodies”, or at least, significantly weakened, disenfranchised, demoralized and impoverished ones!

We’ve got to stop the insanity! We've got to reduce the insane gullibility of the authoritarian following citizens who incredibly are not connecting the dots re their own ever-worsening plight. We've got to replace our sell-out politicians with real representative, humane statespeople.

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Submitted by Nancy Van Ness on

It is indisputable that the Pentagon is beyond civilian control and bodes to be so until some serious changes take place. However, having felt like the vox clamantis in deserto for a decade, I am beginning to take hope. It does seem that people are not only beginning to connect the dots, but to stand up and speak out about it.

The events in Madison and other state houses inspire some hope. Andy Worthington wrote today on Common Dreams that a "war on tyranny" appears to be replacing the egregious "war on terror." The tyrants don't just operate with US money in the Middle East and North Africa; we see them up close in the US, too. May we support those who are demanding a change and may we get the courage to stand up ourselves.

And, can we begin to see that the capitalist economic system is at the root of it all? Can we give up our fear of looking at alternatives rationally and undogmatically? Gosh, I wonder what we might be able to do if we try.