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Finally, there is a consensus on both sides of the aisle in Congress that, yes, military spending is far too high and has been for quite some time.
Therefore, it must be cut, especially at a time when everyone else (except the rich, of course) is being asked to sacrifice. We have to reform a military budget that is roughly one quarter of what we spend each year.
The agreement on the debt ceiling includes what is a good beginning: $350 billion in defense cuts over the next decade. The “super committee” directed with finding other savings months later may add additional military cuts, and it should.
There are so many logical reasons to finally cut the long-bloated military budget. First, there is no real military threat now to the United States anywhere in the world. Truth be told, there hasn’t been in a long time.
The Cold War ended twenty years ago and we quickly embraced the emerging Russian democracy. We’re allies with Russia and with China (and we especially need the Chinese, since they hold most of the loans we’ve taken).
We certainly have no enemies in Europe, and few on other continents, either. The one country on the globe now with whom we are the most antagonistic is clearly Iran, since we’ve accused them of trying to build nuclear weapons.
But it’s an open debate as to whether they’re actually doing that, and even if they are, that would certainly be no reason to launch another war of choice against that country.
Remember, we are the only nation in history that has ever used nuclear weapons against another people. We’re in no position to moralize about who should or should not have nuclear weapons. Only Americans have nuclear blood on their hands.
We didn’t go to war when India and Pakistan got the bomb, and we winked and looked the other way when Israel acquired it. It shouldn’t be any different with Iran.
I know some will still say, “Well, there’s ‘the war on terror.’ Don’t forget about that.” But there have been no new attacks on the U.S. in the ten years since 9/11, and it’s been repeatedly demonstrated since then that police and intelligence work – not military invasions – are the true ways to combat terrorism.
Ever since Korea and Vietnam, every war we’ve fought has been a “war of choice.” From then to Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf, and Iraq and Afghanistan, we’ve started wars that were chosen for political reasons of the presidents who launched them.
We’ve sacrificed our own soldiers, killed many innocents in foreign lands, and continually pumped billions and billions into the military-industrial complex that no less a person than President Dwight Eisenhower warned us about as he left office. Clearly, we didn’t listen to him.
All this must stop. And it must stop now.
No one wants to “gut” military spending to the point where we couldn’t defend ourselves if we ever needed to fight a real war of true defense of our homeland. But when have we ever honestly been presented with that since 1945? When?
Vague phrases about “national security” – like the ones recently issued by Leon Panetta, the new Secretary of Defense – just don’t cut it anymore.
The truth is we can trim the military budget by at least 20 to 40 percent and never miss a beat in terms of being able to defend ourselves.
It must be done, and now, at least, we’re starting to move down that road. Then, we can finally summon the guts to lose the lust of empire, and start to close many of these U.S. military bases around the globe.
Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com