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 and 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.In the midst of all this hullabaloo over the bailout bill, hardly a soul noticed the $619 billion defense authorization bill. This passed the House on September 24 right in the middle of all the furor over the bailout.
The defense bill includes $68.6 billion to pursue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is only a down payment on the full yearly cost of these wars. (The rest will be raised through future supplementary bills.) [By the way, I heard on NPR earlier today that the US commander in Afghanistan wants . . . guess what? More troops and more money.] It also included a 3.9 percent pay raise for military personnel, and $5 billion in pork-barrel projects not even requested by the administration or the Secretary of Defense. It also fully funds the Pentagon's request for a radar site in the Czech Republic, a harebrained scheme sure to infuriate the Russians just as much as a Russian missile base in Cuba once infuriated us. The whole bill passed by a vote of 392-39 and will fly through the Senate, where a similar bill has already been approved.Have you heard a single bleat of protest about this outrage? The positively absurd, and in the present climate, destructive and sinful amount of money we give to the Pentagon and their bloated friends in the military-industrial complex ought to have the people marching in the streets. Our lawmakers ought to be jumping up and down on their desks. Our editorial pages ought to be flaming with outrage. But don't hold your breath waiting for any of this to happen. You'll keel over all blue-faced and die.