The Most Important Conversation People Aren't Having
If that conversation is absent, then you live in a militarized society. You live in a society which is either dominated by militaristic ideals, so for instance conflict and war are prioritized over peace and dialogue, either internally or externally, or you live in a society which prioritizes the military, what it says it needs or what it wants as being the core to maintain order or prosperity in a society. This is an interesting paradox for most people since, we tend to think of things visually, through the primacy of our eyes and what we can see. I mas impotante, i mas annok. Whatever is the most visible is (obviously) the most important. So in fact most people in the United States would not see themselves as a militarized society. But in this case the less visible something is, meaning the more something is not questioned or discussed but simply accepted is the key into understanding its primacy.
As President Eisenhower warned the people of the United States (and the rest of the world), to be on the alert and wary of a vast military industrial complex. The organism, the kulang un mampos dongkalu na gamson, that he envisioned did come into existence, but its presence would always cloaked or coded in such ways that most people would not even realize the scope at which it operated.
The companies that make up that complex would be part of huge corporate organisms themselves and also have media companies, make washing machines or light bulbs. These corporations would keep their power and their influence by buying politicians, but also by employing people and bringing every state taxes and jobs. Most of the violence that the complex created would be exported elsewhere, the peoples of South East Asia and Latin America or the Middle East would feel it instead. As American interests spread across the globe, it almost commonsensically required that the US develop a military which could encompass and control that globe as well. Furthermore, as the most powerful nation in the world, even if it was the best and the most freedom-loving, America has too many enemies out there, and it requires that it defend itself not just at home but in every corner where a threat to the greatness that Sarah Palin drinks before she goes to bed each night, might be found. Finally, the troops, those who use the weapons, the machines of that complex, would end up standing in for that complex, humanizing it and becoming a catch-all for justifying its feeding. Any attack on the corporate monsters or the expanding network of bases or the horrid weapons of annihilation, would be threatening and spitting on those poor precious troops. With all of this combined, there was first of all no reason to question things such as the military budget, and second, actually a danger in doing so.
While I was in South Korea last month, another member of my delegation Bruce Gagnon spoke to me about a campaign that he's been a part of in Maine, called the Bring Our War Dollars Home. I was very excited to hear that such a campaign existed and that it has had some successes in Maine.
Here is an excerpt on its mission from its website:
Concerned organizations and individuals around the state have created the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home as a way to promote the idea that our state's fiscal crisis is in large part due to the current spending on endless war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The current wars and occupations have now cost US taxpayers nearly $1 trillion. Maine's share of that war spending is more than $2.8 billion. We invite you to imagine how that war money could have been spent here in Maine on education, health care, social programs, repairing our decaying roads and bridges, and building a world-class public transit system.
Forty states in the US today are in fiscal crisis. We must demand that our Congressional delegation vote against any further war spending and that they become leaders in the Congress on this important issue. We must also urge all elected officials (local, state, and federal) to speak out against continued war spending. Help us call on Maine's elected leaders to demand that we Bring Our War $$ Home now.
But to see groups making a strong case for reducing spending in order to shore up the domestic economy and social service network is important. It helps you go beyond that initial level of people who take this position for matters of peace or social justice alone. It takes it to the next level where you can have people who may not be as ideologically inclined to this position see its merit its worth and actually support it.
Why We Must Reduce Military Spending
Rep. Barney Frank and Rep. Ron Paul
July 6, 2010
As members of opposing political parties, we disagree on a number of important issues. But we must not allow honest disagreement over some issues to interfere with our ability to work together when we do agree.
By far the single most important of these is our current initiative to include substantial reductions in the projected level of American military spending as part of future deficit reduction efforts. For decades, the subject of military expenditures has been glaringly absent from public debate. Yet the Pentagon budget for 2010 is $693 billion -- more than all other discretionary spending programs combined. Even subtracting the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, military spending still amounts to over 42% of total spending.
It is irrefutably clear to us that if we do not make substantial cuts in the projected levels of Pentagon spending, we will do substantial damage to our economy and dramatically reduce our quality of life.
We are not talking about cutting the money needed to supply American troops in the field. Once we send our men and women into battle, even in cases where we may have opposed going to war, we have an obligation to make sure that our servicemembers have everything they need. And we are not talking about cutting essential funds for combating terrorism; we must do everything possible to prevent any recurrence of the mass murder of Americans that took place on September 11, 2001.
Immediately after World War II, with much of the world devastated and the Soviet Union becoming increasingly aggressive, America took on the responsibility of protecting virtually every country that asked for it. Sixty-five years later, we continue to play that role long after there is any justification for it, and currently American military spending makes up approximately 44% of all such expenditures worldwide. The nations of Western Europe now collectively have greater resources at their command than we do, yet they continue to depend overwhelmingly on American taxpayers to provide for their defense. According to a recent article in the New York Times, "Europeans have boasted about their social model, with its generous vacations and early retirements, its national health care systems and extensive welfare benefits, contrasting it with the comparative harshness of American capitalism. Europeans have benefited from low military spending, protected by NATO and the American nuclear umbrella."
When our democratic allies are menaced by larger, hostile powers, there is a strong argument to be made for supporting them. But the notion that American taxpayers get some benefit from extending our military might worldwide is deeply flawed. And the idea that as a superpower it is our duty to maintain stability by intervening in civil disorders virtually anywhere in the world often generates anger directed at us and may in the end do more harm than good.
We believe that the time has come for a much quicker withdrawal from Iraq than the President has proposed. We both voted against that war, but even for those who voted for it, there can be no justification for spending over $700 billion dollars of American taxpayers' money on direct military spending in Iraq since the war began, not including the massive, estimated long-term costs of the war. We have essentially taken on a referee role in a civil war, even mediating electoral disputes.
In order to create a systematic approach to reducing military spending, we have convened a Sustainable Defense Task Force consisting of experts on military expenditures that span the ideological spectrum. The task force has produced a detailed report with specific recommendations for cutting Pentagon spending by approximately $1 trillion over a ten year period. It calls for eliminating certain Cold War weapons and scaling back our commitments overseas. Even with these changes, the United States would still be immeasurably stronger than any nation with which we might be engaged, and the plan will in fact enhance our security rather than diminish it.
We are currently working to enlist the support of other members of Congress for our initiative. Along with our colleagues Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman Walter Jones, we have addressed a letter to the President's National Committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which he has convened to develop concrete recommendations for reducing the budget deficit. We will make it clear to leaders of both parties that substantial reductions in military spending must be included in any future deficit reduction package. We pledge to oppose any proposal that fails to do so.
In the short term, rebuilding our economy and creating jobs will remain our nation's top priority. But it is essential that we begin to address the issue of excessive military spending in order to ensure prosperity in the future. We may not agree on what to do with the estimated $1 trillion in savings, but we do agree that nothing either of us cares deeply about will be possible if we do not begin to face this issue now.