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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Like Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, at one time I was a hawk.  Then the Cold War ended nearly a quarter century ago.  Suddenly there was no Soviet Union and essentially gone was the specter of a nuclear winter.  This was akin to my aha moment for Santa Claus when I was, oh, maybe 6 years old, when the reality hit.  In many ways, Graham and McCain serve as your parents in perpetuating a lie.  They all probably mean well--in the case of mostly Republican congresspeople to continue to gain financial support from the Military-Industrial Complex--but, let's face it, we now have no mortal enemy.

Sure, there is ISIS and their kind, but there is no danger of their dominating the world.  Putin and Russia?  Like China, they have their own internal problems and posture to maintain a sense of popularity with their populace.

Thus, when I this morning read an op-ed written by Jacob Sullum, I was stunned.  The title?

Sullum is a senior editor for Reason magazine, a Libertarian monthly.  In the past I associated extreme Republicans with libertarians.  After all, nearly half of Tea Party members have Libertarian leanings.  From the Tea Party web page:

     Washington Is Attacking Our Military In The Most Cruel And Horrible Way

But then, five years ago:

So the dust is clearing, and there, apparently, are Republicans in tune with the defense cuts coming with continued sequestration, and many reflect a libertarian point of view.  After all, Ron Paul was a presidential candidate for the Libertarian party in the past, and, while a Republican, an admitted pacifist.

So what did Sullum say?  I quote:
  • Hawks like Graham and McCain, joined by at least 70 Republicans in the House, want us to believe it's impossible to defend the country for a mere $523 billion, the Pentagon's base budget for the next fiscal year under the BCA. That amount, which is slightly higher than this year's budget, does not include whatever our various wars will cost — another $50 billion or so, according to President Obama's estimate.
  • In real terms, the amount of money that Graham and McCain consider recklessly small is more than the U.S. government spent on the military in 2005, when it was in the midst of two wars that have been winding down in recent years. The Pentagon's base budget is higher than it was in 2006 or in any year during the previous decade.
  • Cato Institute analyst Christopher Preble notes that defense spending averaged $458 billion a year in current dollars during the Cold War.
  • The war hogs' warnings look even sillier when you compare our defense budget to spending by other countries. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States, with less than 5 percent of the world's population, accounts for nearly two-fifths of global military spending. It allocates more money to the military than the next eight biggest spenders combined.
  • The United States is a large country with peaceful neighbors. Yet it spends more than $2,000 per capita on defense — as much as Israel, a tiny country beset by enemies, and more than twice as much as European countries such as the U.K., France and Germany.
  • One begins to suspect that our so-called defense budget is spent on a lot of things that have little or nothing to do with defense. Consider the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which dragged on for a dozen or so years and will ultimately cost taxpayers more than $4 trillion, not to mention the thousands of lives lost.

I don't usually quote so extensively, but he said it so well that I couldn't improve on it.

IU.S, News and World Report Debate Club results asked of nine "sharp minds" to the question:  Are Cuts to the Defense Budget Necessary?:
t is at this point that I like to insert the
  • In first place with 116 points:  Ron Paul
  • 2nd, 66 points:  Patrick Takahashi
  • 3rd, 33 points:  Travis Sharp Bacevich, Fellow at the Center for a New American Security
  • 8th, - 38 points:  J. Randy Forbes (right), U.S. House of Representative and Chairman of the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee.  Note:  that is a MINUS 38 points, from the Republican who is responsible for defense spending in our U.S. Congress!!!
As I said, I was once a hawk during the Cold War.  Today, I'm now a peace monger, and have written several essays on peace for the Huffington Post.  The one I like most is:

I leave now for an outing to the Kunia Orchid Society Show.  Tomorrow I will report on honohono, cattleyas and more.  For some reason, these orchids are popular on this blog site.


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