Thursday, February 23, 2012

Better Than I

The writer of this piece, Robert C. Koehler, is a Chicago reporter long connected with the movement to wake people up to the madness that is our militarized country, the insanity that is our military budget in the face of so many crying human wants on this suffering globe. The White House, certainly as mad as the rest of the government, has recently come out with what it calls an "austerity budget." Koehler skewers this falsehood far more eloquently than I could .
First of all, the grotesque insult of "austerity" in the shadow of limitless military spending is destroying our national sanity. And the proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, mental health services, environmental cleanup, National Parks programs and even, yeah, Saturday mail delivery are miniscule compared to the unmet social needs we haven't yet begun to address in this country, in education, renewable energy and so much more. But we're spending with reckless abandon to arm ourselves and our allies and provoke our enemies, and sometimes arm them as well, creating the sort of world no one (almost no one) wants: a world of endless war.
The official 2012 Defense budget of $530 billion, and just a shade under that for 2013, leaves out an enormous amount of defense-related government spending. According to a recent piece in The Atlantic, when you add in, oh, the cost of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, our spending on nuclear weapons development (relegated to the Department of Energy budget), Homeland Security, veterans' medical care (inadequate as it is, but rising), military aid to allies ($3 billion to Israel, for instance), and interest on the military's portion of the debt (projected to be $63.7 billion in 2013), our defense spending almost doubles, to $986.1 billion in 2012 and $994.3 billion in 2013. 
These numbers are simply mind-boggling. What we're talking about here, brothers and sisters, are sums just shy of one trillion dollars for "defense." This is insanity. There is no possible threat to our peace and security as dangerous as this colossal annual drain on our country's lifeblood. Is it not obvious that we have collectively taken leave of our senses? War is publicly justified and celebrated every single day of our lives in this country. When's the last day you can remember where you didn't see, hear, or read about the grave threats to our peace and security--i.e., terrorists, drug smugglers, internal plots, Taliban, China's rising power--that supposedly justify this unconscionable expense?

Moloch, the Insatiable
I can't remember the last day this didn't happen. Can you? Rest assured we're not going to see an end to this madness. There's too much fear, too much money to be made, habits of mind too ingrained in our national psyche to alter. There is not a snowball's chance in hell that anything short of our own destruction will change in our state of permanent war. (I have to disagree with Mr. Koehler on this point. We are already in a state of perpetual war.) People in desperate  need, the countless, numberless will continue to be sacrificed into the flaming maw of Moloch. But he is an insatiable fiend. He won't be satisfied till he's devoured us all.    
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