In his farewell address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower famously warned of the military-industrial complex. President Eisenhower was no left-wing pacifist. He held five stars as a general in the United States Army. He was Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces’ invasion of Normandy. He forced German civilians to tour death camps after allied forces liberated those camps, so that history could record—and others later be unable to deny—the atrocities committed by the Nazis.
Did anyone heed Ike’s parting words?
Roughly half of the United States budget goes to the military. Part of that money goes to benefits for retired veterans and pensions. The bulk of the budget goes to maintain our arsenal. I have heard the amount expressed variously as equal to the next 17 or the next 26 countries in the world, combined. [This is where my colleague Paul Ogden would suggest I cut-and-paste a pie chart to vary the flow of the message of the blog.]
This no longer is the Cold War, in which the Soviets and the United States play a sort of Spy-versus-Spy® on the world stage, one country overthrowing the government of one of the other’s allies only to find that the other somehow rigged the overthrow so the other country would be embarrassed, only to find that....
Back then the Soviet Union crippled its economy through investment in its military.
What do we gain with the biggest, baddest military in the world?
There is no other comparable super-power. China has built ships and planes, and may overrun Taiwan in the future. China’s main means of combat against the United States have been economics and education. So, on the one hand, we will not have a battle against the Chinese. On the other hand, they enjoy the spectacle of the United States spending itself into oblivion for a military it does not need.
We are engaged in warfare—not declared war, as under the Constitution, but warfare in which our troops are committed to action in which people shoot at them and try to blow them up—in Afghanistan, and have been over a decade since Al Qaeda used that country for camps to train its personnel. After Britain invaded Afghanistan in 1920, a tribal chief congratulated the leader of British forces on his conquest. The conquest took six weeks. The chief asked the Brit, "It took you six weeks to conquer us. Now, how long will it take you to get out?" The same question should have been asked ten years ago.
We have very serious problems with our economy. The Republican Party’s quest is to limit President Obama to one term. To that end, the Republican Party has blocked and will block any act it fathoms as beneficial to the economy and that President Obama backs. At the same time as Romney and Ryan tout cuts in government spending, they also claim they want to increase military expenditures.
As with most issues, Romney is short on answers and details.
We safely could slice a third of the military budget and devote that money to education, jobs, roads, bridges, and other domestic matters. Billion-dollar corporations might be shorted, but the American people would not be.