The High Price Of US Militarism Comes Due

| Educate!

Above photo: A plane and missile storage and maintenance facility at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tuscon, Arizona. Mouser Williams.

Our national priorities have displayed much the same logic as the person who jumped off a 50-story building and observed, “This isn’t so bad,” as they hurtled past the 20th floor. But just like that fool, denial works for only so long. Then splat.

For decades, our leaders have invested handsomely in death, spending the majority of our annual tax payments on armaments and empire, leaving humanity and the planet to fend for themselves. Now, in a real crisis, we’re freaking out.

It’s not like there weren’t warnings, either. They even came in writing — on banners, picket signs, leaflets, newspapers, even a few on TV. The very best came on the wind, like this one from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”

Doom, indeed. Visualizing the entire death machine simply beggars the wildest imagination. For instance, the warplanes pictured above are just a fraction of the surplus of what America treasures, waiting for another war or the scrap heap.

According to a Brown University study by Dr. Heidi Garrett-Peltier, the cost of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and whichever country you can keep track of comes to $4.93 trillion or $260 billion annually from fiscal years 2001 to 2019. That’s aside from the Pentagon’s ever-expanding annual budget — $738 billion this year — and the cost of veterans’ care.

Garrett-Peltiers also explains the crippling “opportunity cost” of such spending. Actually she reexplains it, since this is not a new idea. In 1983, during the Reagan administration, Employment Research Associates, a non-profit economic consulting firm based in Lansing, Michigan, found much the same thing: military spending not only produces far fewer jobs per dollar invested, it siphons off intellectual and scientific expertise needed to advance society.

For example, Garrett-Peltier reports that the $260 billion spent annually on war created about 1.8 million jobs, whereas that same amount invested in clean energy or infrastructure would create 2.5 million jobs. If invested in healthcare it would create 3.7 million and nearly 5 million if put toward  primary and secondary education.

Stated another way by the American Friends Service Committee, just the cost of the 19 F-35 fighter planes Congress wants built — a number that actually exceeds the Pentagon’s request — would purchase the 30,000 ventilators Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York will need very soon.

Military spending not only results in untold death and suffering around the world where the United States applies it, it destroys jobs and incomes here at home for all but weapons manufacturers and lobbyists.  

Military spending permeates our economy and the relentless militarism of pregame flyovers, “hometown hero” events and incessant flag-waving permeates our culture, warping our sense of whose work is of value to society and to one’s fellow human beings. 

We are constantly told to thank “the troops” for their service, no matter how problematic their actions. But what about all the people who serve but who don’t put on fatigues and carry guns — nurses, doctors, teachers, bus drivers, postal workers and grocery stockers among others? During this pandemic, they are the ones keeping us alive and helping make sure society functions while the rest of us shelter in place. 

If we emerge from this pandemic with a very different idea of whom we should be grateful to for their service, we will be the better for it. 

“Why warplanes and not ventilators?” my daughter, who works at a hospital, asked rhetorically the other day. “Because we like to kill people better than keep them alive. Because you can kill more brown people that way. Because the war lobby is stronger. Because we suck as a species and especially a country?” 

Sometimes I agree with her. But mostly I think our fellow citizens are better than that. In fact, I believe a large majority of us feel quite the opposite. Why that doesn’t translate into vastly different policies is because corporations and the elite rule the United States, not our fellow citizens. We don’t need another economic impact study, we need the political power to shape the kind of life we deserve and our planet can live with. That, however, is a whole other story.

If we value what we stockpile, it sure isn’t ventilators. 

Mike Ferner is a past national president of Veterans For Peace and a former member of the Toledo, Ohio City Council. He is currently the coordinator for Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie. Email him at mike.ferner@sbcglobal.net. 

  • Western exceptionalism

    Not only that, but your country was unable to win those wars. American army got devastated and destroyed by Viet cong, Afghan talibans, Iraq, even in Syria you lost, retreated, betrayed the Kurds and allowed the Turkish onslaught.

    Pathetic.

    Greece face a similar problem. We have to invest millions of Euros into our army because we neighbor Turkey, a highly aggressive islamo-fascist country. If our Balkan and eastern borders werent so unstable, Greece would have recovered from the recession much faster. Its the “opportunity cost”, as the author said.

  • 0040

    As a Vietnam vet I tend to agree with your daughter while my 7 children now adults approaching middle age agree with you.

  • 0040

    Churchill personally fukked Greece at the end of WW2 , giving it over to fascist sympathisers which it has never gotten out from under.

  • voza0db

    Replace the word “leaders” with “jesters”…

    Next, if you VOTE either STOP COMPLAINING or stop voting on the same known scoundrels election after election!

    Here’s a FUN IDEA!

    Try to VOTE on people that has never been there (at least they are unknown scoundrels!)

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6fb5a5db3d87db1548fa365e71fe292e63025ce7e32b45153b7f9413ec04d501.jpg

  • voza0db

    The MAIN PURPOSE IS NOT WINNING WARS… Is EXTRACT RESOURCES and ENRICH the terrorists that are in USofT land SAFE AND SOUND!

    DNC&GOP LLC don’t care about slaves meat!
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ea41c9053d541afdc267443b625ebfc9c8dab61e7db47eb63d6d183c193ce9da.jpg

  • voza0db

    I believe a large majority of us feel quite the opposite.“, if you guys were actually FEELING the opposite you wouldn’t behave and act like you do.

  • Western exceptionalism

    What do you mean?

  • 0040

    Get out a history book and search for the terms of the treaty between the Churchill and Stalin on the Balkans, aka Yugoslavia and Greece.

  • Western exceptionalism

    I dont know what treaty you are talking about, I do know that there was a civil war between the Greek army and the communists for dominance. The communists were pretty much guerilla fighters, often attacking villages and small cities (e.g. Kalamata) and often killing innocent people and abducting their children to raise them with communist ideals so they join the communist army when they would grow up. Upon taking a village or a city, communists would often kill people based on personal vendettas/rivalries and not based on previous political affiliation.

    They had bases in countries that were hostile to Greece: Yugoslavia and Albania, and they would often bring Yugoslavian soldiers to spill the blood of Greek people. When the Greek army and the almighty Greek general Thrasyvoulos Tsakalotos single-handedly (and without support of British troops) anihilated the communists in north-western Greece, they fled to Albania which considred them “allies”. The treacherous nature of Greek communists was well evidented, since they brought foreign armies in our country. It is pity, considering that many of the Greek communists fought the Germans bravely.

    After the civil war, Greek government was not fascist but democratic. The civil war ended in 1950 and the first leaders of Greece after the civil war were leftists, rightists and centrists (Nicolaos Plastiras, Alexandros Diomidis, Sophocles Venizelos and so on).

    They were all elected after valid elections. There was nothing fascist about their governments. In Greek history, Churchill is not remembered as some important person. For us, his influence toward the creation of post-modern Greece is obscure, unimportant, insignificant. We are aware of Churchill’s significance for his country but we dont care about whether he influenced our country or not, for we know that we became part of the western world not because Churchill wanted to, but because WE decided to do so.

  • I’m somewhere in there myself. War is the great adventure and testing ground. War is adrenaline. War is the great game. The rest of it derives from that. I wouldn’t parse out to “like to kill brown people” or other specifics like that. Too distracting. Go right back to the big adventure. The boasting later.
    I still remember a couple of guys who were Mr. Milktoast until they put on their uniform and came to work. Like Milktoast with a King Kong mask.
    Even if you weren’t assigned to something in a combat zone, you were part of something larger and moving. I went into the Air Force in November 1968 and wound up being trained by the Army Engineer Corps in a specialty I didn’t know existed, geodetic surveying/computing. It was math heavy, something I had not done well at in college but I learned rapidly in the Air Force. It was heady and I still believed there were reasons we were in Vietnam. At my squadron we formed small groups to go on TDY (temporary duty). We would be out for weeks to months on a job, come back in with our data, for a week or three and form another team for another job. Constant travel, for me all over the US and UK, which I loved. I would always ask to be courier for our pallets of equipment on air cargo planes, because I had worked at our small town airport before signing up (which is why the Air Force).
    Some of my work was on the data brought back by other squadron members for Operation Combat Skyspot in SEA. That was targeting North Vietnam with bombing missions (at first) then adding radar control for ordnance anywhere in the theater (call in with your georef and the ordnance remaining on the plane and Skyspot had a computer list of targets and coordinates).
    BTW – if anyone had exposure to the public all over the country and many other countries, our squadron, working public spaces most of the time, was certainly the one that would have had max opportunity to get spit on. But all of us were treated just the opposite. We were invited in for family dinners, setup for dates, patted on the back and I forget what else. So Ken Burns really pissed me off at episode number nine when he touts the “company line” so to speak, but then that is what he is best at.
    Anyway, as much as I thrived on the job and kept advancing, by the time my 4 years was up I didn’t want to re-up. I was already a short-haired hippy by then and not in line with my country’s aims in SEA or the idea of a full military career. It would have meant losing myself as a person and a conscience. I could have but I kept seeing the milktoast types having an identity defined by wearing their uniform, walking taller in stiff shoes, and I didn’t want that for me. I just went to the end of my enlistment and left.
    I still believed a lot of stuff, almost none of which I believe now. Just about everything has shifted around for me. I wouldn’t go in today but you had to be in to know. Or at least, I did.

  • 0040

    You clearly know very little about which you pontificate?

  • didactic1

    The Pentagon ought to shut down. No standing armies. But if that happened, millions of Americans who depend on military spending, directly or indirectly, would starve and have no housing. Perhaps that is what it takes for Revolution? Disgruntled soldiers and sailors? Whole communities in worst poverty?

  • didactic1

    Go Go Taliban. If you can’t do it, Iran can!

  • didactic1

    What resources extracted from Afghanistan? Really want to know.

  • 0040

    Agreed, however to extract the resources a war must first be won something Americas elites in their greed seem to have forgotten.

  • didactic1

    Greeks though increasingly fed up with Left in 21 cent. And with Greek territory being used to dump refugees from NATO and Russian wars. Greece for Greeks. Screw NATO,EU and UN.

  • 0040

    As a combat soldier boonie-rat during the Vietnam invasion I believed our job was to kill , loot , and pillage whenever possible , until I saw/smelled and otherwise experienced the carnage we were unleashing , my exposure to the legions of unhappy draftees , also helped set me straight . This alternate universe and soldier worshipping cult now deeply promoted and embraced about the purpose of the US military is just propaganda. Soldiering is the oldest profession , and is based in negative human tendencies such as greed , hatred , and a raging desire for power over others. The country was badly divided by the Johnson/Nixon attacks on Vietnam and our eventual defeat using and losing so many drafted young men. Mr Burns attempts to heal those wounds, wrongly in my view ,with his overly maudlin , and somewhat sanctimonious ,and patriotic ramble through that era does no one any good. These days we have few combat soldier finding it far more profitable to hire local thugs/religious fanatics in the small nations we are oppressing , while pretending to have millions of combat troops available , aka ghost legions , also used in Vietnam in helping to loot the treasury. The Rumsfeldian privatisation of the Army has been a complete success from that point of view as a bankrupting economic model of perpetual war now rages. .

  • 0040

    Opium , rare Earth metals extracted and refined by Chinese companies with massive logistical support from US troops , and American “Benjamins” that have arrived in Afghanistan by the pallet load every day of the 19 years we have been there.

  • didactic1

    Benjamin’s to pay drug dealers?

  • didactic1

    Be cheaper to make Taliban business partners. They do generate income from drug sales.

  • 0040

    All sort of dirty bedfellows get a piece many are American as well. Diverting massive quantities of arms and other supplies, such as food water , clothing , written off as war loss vehicles , aircraft and on and on are huge money makers as well.

  • 0040

    No it would not . The Taliban are religious fanatics who soldier for their version of god and cannot be negotiated with long term. Repressing their women and killing each other for long remembered grievances is their chief occupation.

  • ANTONIO
  • voza0db

    No need anymore… Nowadays wars are a mere exercise to reduce the target country military capabilities to the minimum, and then occupy the Land and build bases around or near the location of the resources you want to extract. No need for winning the “war”!
    Of course that on TV a show is always displayed with some king of moronic celebration…
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/58bfb5c4efe9734f2eb5086ad2f45893856b89b720fc45742ce7db3381278db2.jpg

  • voza0db

    You need to be more attentive…

    Beside the OBVIOUS poppy:

    “The highest concentration of NATO servicemen in Afghanistan is being

    accompanied with the highest concentration of opium poppy, …. That

    situation causes doubts about the anti-terrorist mission and leads to

    the conclusion about catastrophic consequences of the eight-year stay

    [of coalition forces] in Afghanistan,”

    We also have the $TRILLIONS of the GOOD STUFF!

    Scientists with the USGS Mineral Resources Project worked closely with Afghan colleagues from 2005 through 2014 to help identify and assess Afghanistan’s mineral resources, which are vital to the country’s industrial growth and development. Between 2005 and 2007, a USGS minerals team worked with scientists and staff from the Afghanistan Geological Survey (AGS) to collect and consolidate existing information about known mineral deposits. They also acquired new data to help evaluate the existence of as-yet-undiscovered mineral resources throughout the country.

    Despite being one of the poorest nations in the world, Afghanistan may be sitting on one of the richest troves of minerals in the world, valued at nearly $1 trillion, according to U.S. scientists.

    Probably much more than $1T, but now with SARS-CoV-2 one never knows the course the Morons will take!

  • 0040

    Certainly accepted as true by our elites , but I’d suggest those being droned , shot dead by various gangs of hired thugs or otherwise killed and maimed would disagree.

  • 0040

    The left in Greece has been repeatedly eradicated since WW2 only to spring up again like the Hydra of Myth ,. Why is that ?

  • didactic1

    Forms are illusory. Plato.

  • 0040

    The US political system is a cancer . The Green Party is simple a group of slightly less malignant and less aggressive cells within said cancer , that is constantly coopted by said aggressive cells. Bill Mckibben works for the fracking Industry , Naomi Klein now works for the Westons a group of Canadian Billionaires and on it goes

  • didactic1

    Ha. Metals. Excellent. In the Ahge of CoronaDollar, the dwarfs deep in the mountain still extract priceless wealth.

  • didactic1

    They, like the Castro brothers, the N Koreans and Columbian Marxist Leninists push heroin. Opium and cocaine to finance operations.

    Marx and Allah understand.

  • 0040

    So it appears is language/the written word, at least to some of us.

  • V4V

    What evidence do you have that Castro push heroin, opium, and cocaine? Please supply links, thanks.

  • didactic1

    PBS Frontline and many not right wing pubs reported this over the decades. Do your own fling research. Hell when I was younger and a pro Castro Marxist I and my comrades knew this and thought it was a great way to raise money for revolution and offset US blockade of Cuba. Hey naive guy, we robbed too for the cause. It’s what revolutionaries always did. To be outside the law you must be honest.

  • voza0db

    Even to build machines to help weak animals breathe one does need minerals!

  • Nylene13

    Why don’t we give the United Nations the Power it was created to have?

  • chetdude

    Why don’t we recognize as the Zapatistas in Chiapas have that power is dependent upon the consent of the governed and we should withdraw that consent and learn to govern ourselves…

    I DO NOT expect some enlightened, all-powerful White Knight to show up riding a charger to save us.

  • chetdude

    Read the article again.

    They detail how a billion dollars spent for the war machine “creates” WAY fewer jobs than spending on education, health care, etc.

    The actual workers (NOT CEOs, executives, lobbyists, etc) who are engaged in direct manufacturing of tools of death and destruction SHOULD be retrained to build alternative, non-destructive transportation infrastructure and tools necessary to grow food, the “troops” retrained for socially useful pursuits and the money saved being used to create tens of millions of socially useful “jobs” in a REAL Green New Deal, Health Care and Education.

  • chetdude

    “Bill Mckibben works for the fracking Industry”
    “Naomi Klein now works for the Westons”

    Just as I thought — both extreme lies…

    What’s your agenda, mr. tr*ll?

  • chetdude

    Apparently not since USAmerica hasn’t “won” a war since 1945…

    But the Empire has been able to grab over 25% of the Earth’s resources for 4% of Her population…

  • chetdude

    Heroin, gems and certain strategic minerals…

  • chetdude

    ACTUALLY before the U.S. invasion in 2002, the Taliban were anti-drug and had seriously cut down the flow of heroin into USAmerica from Afghanistan.

    Then the U.S. enabled war lords took over the territory and the trade rebounded better than ever.

  • chetdude

    C’mon – buy a clue.

    Most of those enlisted in the Taliban forces are there for the same reasons (economic, inertia, no other good choices, etc.) that drive so many USAmericans to fill up our bloated military…

    There are plenty of religious fanatics and repression of women in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and now the phony Space Corps…

    There’s no significant difference.

  • chetdude

    The Castros were AGAINST DRUGS.

    Cuba was essentially freed from major drug use, crime and prostitution until tourists from the capitalist nations brought them back.

  • chetdude

    Just as I thought — you’re full of shyte – from the Frontline piece:

    “Two gangs were under surveillance-the Ceballoses from Colombia
    and a family of Cuban-AMERICANS called Ruiz.”

    Nope, no Castros…

  • didactic1

    Read Read Read. Or have a kid read it to you.

  • didactic1

    😆

  • didactic1

    Flexibility leads to success. Taliban are flexible.

    Grams for Allah.

  • didactic1

    Why dont we bulldoze the UN site and turn it into an urban farm to teach kids useful skills? The UN bureaucrats can clean out the animal waste.

  • 0040

    In raw numbers there may well be more religious nutters in America than Afghanistan , however in America most have little or no power . Afghan men are born into their religion which becomes the defining fact of their grubby existence and they soldier for that cause throughout their lives. There are no women in Afghan armed forces , other than “mattress pads.” I agree the US military is bloated but not with combat soldiers , other than ghost legions which draw wages but don’t really exist . Techs , logistical pogues, drone operators , and security analyst , etc , abound all living in relative luxury even if abroad. .

  • 0040

    Being anti drug is hardly a recommendation when the “treatment” for addiction is death by torture. The war on drugs fought by America since the Nixon regime has killed and destroyed the lives of many millions . Far more than the addictions. The worst of which alcohol and nicotine are legal and encouraged by market driven Americans. .

  • 0040

    Globally CIA controls both the heroin and cocaine trades. Even at cost prices helicopters , drones , and battalions of trained assassins are pricey

  • 0040

    Humanities fascination with gold has only gotten more addictive in this century , attempts to introduce bogus digital currencies, a variant of the pyramid scheme aside.

  • 0040

    The US failed to become an empire when defeated in Korea/Vietnam beginning circa 1950 by China and Russia. “American” as you use it applies to a cabal of a at most a few million international banksters and profiteer some born in the US who invoke patriotic nationalism to avoid paying taxes. While some of the largest corporations like Microsoft or Apple and various hedge funds , insurance companies etal may have sprawling campuses in middle America most of their factories and production facilities are off shore . Your second statement is nonsense when analysed.

  • V4V

    The article is short on actual evidence, for example:

    The idea that the Castro brothers knew nothing about the drug trafficking was perfectly absurd. Cuba was a country where, as the saying goes, “not a leaf moved on a tree” unless the Castros wanted it to.

    While that may or may not be true, it certainly isn’t evidence.

    Cuban counterintelligence is said to have tutored the Venezuelan spies, domestic and foreign, and helped to organize them to root out opposition to the regime of Hugo Chávez.

    -“is said to…” isn’t evidence

    So, I say you are half-baked. Furthermore, the CIA was selling rock cocaine in LA, and in Afghanistan, heroine production increased under U.S. watch.

  • V4V

    PBS Frontline and many not right wing pubs

    -ha!

    PBS is corporate media! Who is naiver?

  • Nylene13

    Interesting how often people who attack the U.N. never have anything intelligent to say.

    Just random insults…..

  • Nylene13

    I do not see the United Nations as an all powerful White Knight.

    I see it as a way to solve our differences with other countries without War.

  • didactic1

    A harmful, deceptive racket place bulldozed. A farm to teach replaces ii. Cruel arrogant bullies do honest work.

    All good.

  • didactic1

    Did it get it right here or not?

  • didactic1

    Let the readers decide by reading whole article.

  • dopfa

    That’s why this is the perfect time to work on a peace economy. Time to work on building stuff instead of constantly blowing stuff up. We can put everyone to work in the Green New Deal, starting with thousands of hemp farms to put people to work producing thousands of products using the best plant on the planet. If the people lead, the leaders will follow, and if they don’t, we need to dump them.

  • chetdude

    I’m not so sure.

    Even the U.N. is structured as yet another dominance hierarchy.

    Our major systemic disease is the species consensus trance that only hierarchies that place some individuals above and more powerful than most can drive human societies – corporations, top-down governments, totalitarian structure and yes, even the velvet glove of the U.N. providing cover for the steel fist of military power: Korea, Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.

    We really need to extract ourselves from that delusion and (re-)learn how to implement systems of mutual support instead.

  • chetdude

    “religious nutters in America … have little or no power”

    Have you checked the tax code and thousands of sky-god myth inspired Federal, state and local laws lately?

  • chetdude

    Oh, Really?

    The new Imperial Way is to own the world’s currency and extort resources mostly with the THREAT of military force and a few examples of what can happen to you if you don’t toe the line (Panama, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan)…

    Korea and Vietnam have been turned into relatively cheap manufacturing operations for the U.S. and Europe.

    “Your second statement is nonsense when analysed.” Oh, really, analyze away…

  • chetdude

    YOUR opinion is not worth a rush…

  • 0040

    Point taken , but our religious nutters don’t generally behead women in soccer stadiums for exhibiting sexual behaviour, although some wish they could .

  • chetdude

    Ask Mathew Sheppard’s family about that.

    Their religious nutters don’t do that either…even there it’s an exceptional occurrence…

  • didactic1

    That is the point. How lost the particles of pollen.

  • 0040

    There is video floating about of several hundred women being beheaded in a Kabul Soccer arena, while the pious cheered . While American religious nutters do regularly abuse women and children they rarely behead them enmasse as mandated by the Talibans theocratic government

  • 0040

    You seem to be suffering , like many here from a form of Albrightian American exceptionalism In which all Americans are profiteers or wealthy banksters which is absolute nonsense . In America today possibly 30 million rule while the rest of serve, somewhat unwillingly. South Korea is a satrap/economic colony of America , North Korea is is a satrap of China , while North Vietnam’s military are now that countries corporate elite , an important difference. . .

  • chetdude

    You are seriously wrong about everything I’ve said and what I believe and don’t believe.

    And your numbers are off – in USAmerica, way less than 10,000 RULE while the other 340,000,000 are ruled.