t r u t h o u t | 09.29
We Have the Money ...
Monday 29 September 2008
by: Chalmers Johnson, TomDispatch.com
... If only we didn't waste it on the defense budget.
There has been much moaning, air-sucking, and outrage about the $700 billion that the
On Wednesday, September 24th, right in the middle of the fight over billions of taxpayer dollars slated to bail out Wall Street, the House of Representatives passed a $612 billion defense authorization bill for 2009 without a murmur of public protest or any meaningful press comment at all. (The New York Times gave the matter only three short paragraphs buried in a story about another appropriations measure.)
The defense bill includes $68.6 billion to pursue the wars in
This is pure waste. Our annual spending on "national security" - meaning the defense budget plus all military expenditures hidden in the budgets for the departments of Energy, State, Treasury, Veterans Affairs, the CIA, and numerous other places in the executive branch - already exceeds a trillion dollars, an amount larger than that of all other national defense budgets combined. Not only was there no significant media coverage of this latest appropriation, there have been no signs of even the slightest urge to inquire into the relationship between our bloated military, our staggering weapons expenditures, our extravagantly expensive failed wars abroad, and the financial catastrophe on Wall Street.
The only Congressional "commentary" on the size of our military outlay was the usual pompous drivel about how a failure to vote for the defense authorization bill would betray our troops. The aged Senator John Warner (R-Va), former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, implored his Republican colleagues to vote for the bill "out of respect for military personnel." He seems to be unaware that these troops are actually volunteers, not draftees, and that they joined the armed forces as a matter of career choice, rather than because the nation demanded such a sacrifice from them.
We would better respect our armed forces by bringing the futile and misbegotten wars in
The continued presence of American troops and their heavily reinforced bases in
In the past year, perhaps most disastrously, we have carried our Afghan war into
The brutal bombing of the Marriott Hotel in
We should begin our disengagement from
This in itself is a national disgrace. Spending hundreds of billions of dollars on present and future wars that have nothing to do with our national security is simply obscene. And yet Congress has been corrupted by the military-industrial complex into believing that, by voting for more defense spending, they are supplying "jobs" for the economy. In fact, they are only diverting scarce resources from the desperately needed rebuilding of the American infrastructure and other crucial spending necessities into utterly wasteful munitions. If we cannot cut back our longstanding, ever increasing military spending in a major way, then the bankruptcy of the
Chalmers Johnson is the author of three linked books on the crises of American imperialism and militarism. They are "Blowback" (2000), "The Sorrows of Empire" (2004), and "Nemesis: The Last Days of the
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