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Saturday, May 20, 2017

WHO DO AMERICANS KEEP SUPPORTING UNNECESSARY MILITARY SPENDING?

At 15 Craigside we intelligently discuss the full range of issues.  These dining partners are mostly well-educated citizens who keep up with the news.  I was thus stunned to gain a sense that no one had any conception of how much we set aside for defense...or war.  When I cited Barack Obama last year (in his final State of the Union address) mentioning that the U.S. spends more on our military than the next eight nations combined, there was a vacant look on their faces.  I'm not sure if they didn't care or the concept was so beyond their thinking level, for there was no follow-up comment.

Granted, I have become a peace monger of sorts.  My first Huffington Post article proposed an ultimate peace plan to Barack Obama when he was still running for the Democratic nomination nine years ago.  I followed two years later with a 10% Simple Solution for Peace.

So what do war weapons cost?  Last year the Department of Defense purchased 149 Tomahawk cruise missiles for $202 million.  Add the cost of deployment, and they average $1.6 million each.  Last month President Donald Trump authorized the launching of 59 to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad's Sarin gas attack.  Cost?  $94.4 million.  Americans largely applauded Trump's decision.  According to Gallup/CBS/ABC:
  • 2017:  50% supported Trump's Syrian attack
  • 80% of Republicans have confidence with Trump in Syria, while 84% of Democrats have no confidence
  • 1983:  53% said okay to invasion of Grenada
  • 3 in 10 back air strikes but no ground troops
  • 26% only want diplomatic talks and no military action
  • 15% want no American involvement whatsoever
My favorite misspent defense item is the aircraft carrier, which has already been deemed by experts as obsolete.  I've had several postings on them.  Read this one from last year and five years ago.  You know how many of these ships are in service today?
  • 10:  USA
  •   2:  Italy
  •   1:  China, France, India, Russia, Spain, Thailand
  •   0:  Germany, Japan, UK...and rest of the world
The latest carrier group we have cost $30 billion to build and will spend $2.5 billion annually to man.  Multiply that by eleven.  The Gerald R. Ford was supposed to have been delivered last month at a cost of $13 billion.  Nine more are planned!  Sure, keep two or three for political posturing purposes, but more than twenty?  For an expensive but obsolete war tool?

A reported lemon of a fighter jet, the F-35, began operations in 2006, and as of today, 231 has been produced.  Each Lockheed Stealth multirole fighter costs around $100 million.  Bloomberg expects the F-35 to cost more than a trillion dollars, with Wikipedia indicating $1.5 trillion.


Seventy years after World War II and 62 years after the Korean War, there are still 174 U.S. ‘base sites’ in Germany, 113 in Japan, and 83 in South Korea, according to the Pentagon. Hundreds more dot the planet in around 80 countries, including Aruba and Australia, Bahrain and Bulgaria, Colombia, Kenya, and Qatar, among many other places. Although few Americans realize it, the United States likely has more bases in foreign lands than any other people, nation, or empire in history.

Further:

Rarely does anyone ask if we need hundreds of bases overseas or if, at an estimated annual cost of perhaps $156 billion or more, the U.S. can afford them. Rarely does anyone wonder how we would feel if China, Russia, or Iran built even a single base anywhere near our borders, let alone in the United States.

You would think that these mega-billions would be protested by the masses.  We are confronted with a China that couldn't care less about conquering the world, a Russia that is getting old, a North Korea that could soon be dust and scattered bunches of disorganized terrorists.  The USSR was a formidable adversary, but that was a quarter century ago.  You would  have thought our Defense budget would have dropped since the fall of the Berlin Wall, but, no, it's gone up:


However, for a society that loves to lay out, every year, $70 billion on lottery tickets, $80 billion on cigarettes and nearly $100 billion on beer, you can better appreciate why we tolerate expenditures for maintaining peace through bombs.  Oh, add $2.3 billion annually for tattoos.


Like Ike, I keep blaming the Military-Industrial Complex, which is, indeed, a power to be feared.  However, they remain a force because every state has military spending needs.  The Republicans are well-supported by the MIC, but, more so, the average citizen feels more secure if we maintain overkill while boosting the local economy.  If 15 Craigside can be any indicator of widespread support or nonchalance regarding military spending, my peace effort is just another delusion on par with the Blue Revolution, hydrogen jetliner, direct methanol fuel cell, fusion, SETI and similar fantasies.

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