Spending on War and Destruction vs. Investing on Building a better America

Peace... PLEASE

Peace… PLEASE (Photo credit: JTeale)

What if we did not go to all the wars or meddle into the affairs of other countries since the end of the Korean War and instead focus all of that Defense money and effort into education, energy development, infrastructure maintenance and upgrades, etc.  How much better do you think our country would actually be today?  I’m only talking about the money and effort spent directly on wars or war like acts, not that spend for the direct defense of our nation such as missile defense, submarines, etc.  Imagine no terrorist mad at us; no 9/11; tens of thousands of troops still alive and in one piece; no Home Land Security; no long security lines at airports or other places; a far simpler and safer world to live.  We would be a country respected more and hated less.

Currently the military budget is about 20% of our total budget or over 900 Billion per year.  Imagine if it were reduced by half to $450 Billion or 10% of our budget and $450 billion available for other things, a not insignificant amount to invest in building a better America for Americans.  Last year the Federal government spent about $100 billion on Education, 9 times less than it did on Defense.  Think how much better education would be if it had $300 billion instead of $100 billion by taking $200 billion from the available $450 billion leaving $250 billion.  Then let us put all that remains into upgrading infrastructure.  Let us do this every year instead of declaring wars with little to gain and many lives being sacrifice.  What has the average citizen actually gained by all our wars?  Think of what they all have to gain without going to war?  What is wrong with such logical reasoning?  Shouldn’t the government’s priorities be what is best for all the people?  What do individual people gain by wars other than loosing sons and daughters?

Think tanks should study such scenarios so that we can better assess where best to put our money: put it in diplomatic or oil defending wars or invest it directly into what will make its citizens better educated and transportation more cost effective and advanced.  We are an extremely short sighted government and economy.  There is virtually no one of power looking into the long term future of this nation.  We only react to what happens at the moment.  We have little control over our destiny.  We are slaves of circumstances rather than shapers of our destiny.  Our entire culture shows this.  We would rather play the daily stock market rather than carefully choose some stock then hold on to them for 5-10 years.  We would rather fight a war in Iraq to protect foreign oil resources rather than invest that money in education or infrastructure for ourselves.  And where has that defense of foreign oil resources gotten us.  Trying to extricate ourselves out of those countries which don’t even want us.  In our personal lives we would rather charge everything to our credit cards and make minimum payments thus accumulating enormous debts at Mafia type interest rates rather than pay cash for just the things we can afford.

We cannot keep put off investing significant portions of our budget into the future unless we believe that there will be no future.  Only those without children have that right.  The rest of us have an obligation to make sure our children have a future no worst and hopefully much better than our own.

I am a firm believer that love is far greater at bringing about resolution to conflicts than hate, that understanding and empathy are far greater at bringing about peace than animosity or revenge, that engagement of your enemies is better than enforcing sanctions or isolation upon them.  After all countries are run by human beings.  Treat their leaders with some respect and dignity so they do not sense hostility and they will eventually treat you likewise in turn.  Bully countries and their leaders will resent and despise you.  War should be the absolute very last desperate alternative.  Anything short of that is bullying if done by a overwhelmingly powerful nation such as we.  Instead offer them a helping hand.  Nations are desperate because they are poor.  Take away poverty from the equation and they will not think of war.  Help them take away poverty and they will be your friends.  Respect their cultures and do not insult them by imposing your own morality on them.  Be a good example and they may eventually follow it.  As they become more affluent they will adjust their morality just as we did ours throughout history.  Forcing thing to happen in an environment not ready for change is difficult and will result in conflicts and strong resentments.  Things must be allowed to slowly evolve more naturally for all things in nature naturally change slowly and adjust with time.  We are simply extensions of nature’s laws.  Change happens incrementally.  Dramatic changes always have unintended consequences as a side effect.  Evolution is much more enduring than revolution since minor mid-course correction can be made real time to adjust for unforeseen problems.  We as a nation need to learn to be much more patient with developing nations.  After all it took us 250 years to grow and evolve.  In our early history we had slavery and discrimination against women’s rights to vote and in the workplace and other inequalities.  We still have problems with equality for all.  So who are we to judge another nation for being in their state of social development that we were 100 years ago?  Would we not resent another moralistic nation telling us what to do then?

Let us then place that money that otherwise would have gone to killing and destruction to something constructive for all Americans.  We consider ourselves a peaceful country but we have fought more wars since WWII thousands of miles from our shores than any other nation.  Most certainly we have spent by far the most money.  Why are we always stuck with the lions share of supporting UN sanctioned wars?  In all the wars that we have been in how many can we agree were clear winners and how many were not so clear winners or were clear loosers.  Then compare how much we gained compared to how much we lost and sacrificed in terms of lives, cost of each war and benefit to the average citizen.  Have these wars been worth the price or are we paying too high a price and gaining too little overall benefit by waging them to start?  Have our troops been shedding their blood in vain?  These are real American lives I am talking about.  The true winners of these wars are the companies that make weapons for war.  Can these companies be retooled to make better infrastructure for our country?  Can we insist that a certain percent of our infrastructure be made in the good old USA?

Recommended reading: US Sanctions, A Failing Foreign Policy

This entry was posted in Do No Harm, Domestic Issues, Foriegn Policy and War, Government and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Spending on War and Destruction vs. Investing on Building a better America

  1. Another thoughtful and interesting article. Thanks Frank. I’ve been a peace/justice activist for decades, a life-time member of WILPFus.org, the world largest & oldest women’s peace organization, founded in 1915. We have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize again this year. Interestingly there is no equivalent international men’s peace organization. In most arenas, men still hold the reins of power and infuence and don’t make peace a priority. So we have what we have in terms of feeding the military-industrial complex.

    After World War II, the USA made the vanquished Japanese include in their constitution, Article 9, that states that that nation was not allowed to wage war or have a standing military. Some peace activists have suggested we should also include this type of legal amendment in our nation’s constitutional statutes. What is the result of Article 9? Instead of militarism and aggresive aggrandisement, Japan has used its talents and resoureces to excel by producing some of the world’s most popular & affordable automobiles, been the most innovative in bring out more fuel-efficient, low emissions transportation than other nations, incuding the USA where the automobile was first created and produced. A lesson learned about waging peace, not war.

    • FG says:

      Your point is very well taken about Japan. The same can be said about Germany. Ten years after WWII these two nations were among the most thriving nations in the world in spite of the fact that their industries were short of totally destroyed by the war and their countries in total chaos. But they were both able to quickly recover and become commercial giants with relatively high standards of living because they did not have to support a military. They were under the protection of our military. If we did not have such a strong military today no one would perceive us a threat and would leave us alone while we used money otherwise targeted for the military to improve our people and country for every citizen. I cannot see how we or anyone has benefited from any war after WWII. Thanks for that bit of information. I have an article just about ready to publish about the President’s power to declare war. Keep tune.

  2. Pingback: The Absurdaties of War | ouR Social Conscience

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