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Today, the United States, despite our protestations of being a peace-loving nation, is the most warlike nation on the planet. It is ludicrous to call military spending by the USA defense spending. We spend more than the next 20 nations combined. This figure actually understates the real cost by a significant amount because it doesn't include many other related costs which could push the ultimate cost beyond $1 trillion. But some of these costs are not controllable, or are not purely military. For convenience, let's round it off to $700 Billion; this represents base spending under the direct control of Congress. Keep in mind that these are annual costs, not spending over the next decade.

The truth is that our military spending is focused on starting wars. This is expensive; $700 billion is about 4.5% of our GDP. Some think this is money well spent. I do not.

What do we get for all the immense outlay of $700 billion? How does military spending benefit the average citizen? The truth is that we citizens get practically no benefit from it. Nuclear powered aircraft carriers don't make us safer. As awesome as the stealth bomber is technologically, it does not improve the quality of life of anybody on the planet. HumVees are unable to grow food, or provide medical care. The weapons of war are without any actual value to us or to mankind. In fact, they kill and maim and destroy; that's their purpose.  

Large stretches of the world have developed a consuming hatred of the USA because of the wars we wage and the sabers we rattle. There is no upside except the satisfaction of being the biggest, baddest, toughest sumbitches on the planet. Is this an exaggeration? Recall all the awesome videos from the first Iraq war, the war to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. Missiles were targeting individual buildings and sending a video feed of their flight right down to impact. We were all impressed by the technological prowess of our war making machine. And, admittedly, Saddam Hussein's naked aggression against a defenseless neighbor was cause for condemnation, and by any measure, a just cause for war. Coalition forces scored a resounding military victory, and we impressed the world with our advanced military technology. It was a war that had the backing of virtually the entire world. We had to stop him, and we did.

The coalition casualties were minimal—or were they? It turns out that 180,000 American veterans of this conflict were subsequently classified as "permanently disabled" by what has become known as Gulf War Syndrome. (We don't talk about this very much.) It seems like a stiff price to pay for redrawing national boundaries in a remote desert, but I agree that it had to be done. Still, it taught us (or should have taught us) that even a just war can have severe costs.

Recall all the talk about "shock and awe" before the second Iraq war; it was sheer braggadocio. We lost that war, in spite of our declaration of an early victory. There is no way to sugar coat it. We have nothing to show for it except our casualties and our national humiliation. We are now winding down the Afghanistan war; we have been forced to pull out after gaining exactly nothing. Nothing good came of either war, even though we spent trillions on them.  Oh, but what about Grenada? We sure taught them a lesson, didn't we?

I invite the reader to review the history of our military operations since the cold war ended. Can anybody say that our military accomplishments during this period justify the human and monetary cost? I submit that our military adventures of the last twenty years have been, on balance, an abysmal failure. On the plus side, we can perhaps count taking out Slobodan Milošević (a success, but just a NATO assist), Saddam Hussein (and his two evil sons), Osama bin Laden, and Muammar Gaddafi (another NATO assist). Along the way, we suffered thousands of dead, and hundreds of thousands of non-fatal casualties. Oh, and more trillions of dollars than we can accurately count. It's a sorry history of military failure.

Even our current drone campaign is destined, I argue, to produce nothing of lasting value for our security. We are just creating enemies faster than we are destroying them. The technology is awesome, but the end result will be very bad for us.  

It's time to stop sacrificing our young people, not to mention hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, and trillions of our dollars. We get precious little benefit, and it just serves to piss off our enemies. War is just not the answer to any problem we face today. Our role as the world's policeman is mainly, and plainly, a failure.  

Consider this: The Iraq war that we started, ostensibly in response to 9-11, and the Afghanistan war have cost us far more in blood and treasure than did the original 9-11 attacks.  A Harvard study puts the ultimate cost at $4 - 6 trillion. The cost to the Iraqi people has been greater—much greater, but apparently that counts for nothing. After all, they were just furriners. The long term cost to the United States, in terms of our relations with people all over the middle east, cannot even be guessed at. The people of Iraq and Afghanistan will hate us for generations to come; it's impossible to put a price tag on that. Some fine day we might need their friendship; what then?

Neither of these wars should have been started, but we provided Bush and Cheney with a huge hammer and, sure enough, they found nails to drive. Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11, but we were frankly eager to kick some ass. Hunter's fine diary explores this issue.

Arguably, Afghanistan provided sanctuary for al Qaeda, so there is some justification for our invasion of that country. But at the end of the day, somebody had to be the adult in the room; the United States should have learned a lesson from the experience of the USSR in that country. War against Afghanistan never served our national interest, and when it became obvious that the Afghanistan war was a failure in terms of trapping al Qaeda, we should have pulled out.

There are people today who advocate war to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions. Have they learned nothing from the events of last two decades? If we make war, the very best outcome we could hope for is to delay whatever ambitions the Iranians have. We can hardly occupy Iran indefinitely to curb their nuclear plans. How can we put Iran permanently out of the nuclear weapons business? Only by getting their cooperation. We cannot get people to cooperate by going to war against them. How difficult is that to understand?

Let's suppose we decide not to start any more wars. What would be a reasonable military budget? Instead of the current level of $700 billion, $300 billion should be enough to deal with any military aggression against us. We are blessed with two immense oceans that act as formidable barriers against a possible invasion by Russia or China or New Zealand. If we are truly interested in defense, as opposed to offense, then $300 billion is more than enough. Imagine gradually reducing military spending and ultimately saving $400 billion every year just to start with, simply by deciding not to start any more wars. As time goes by, the savings would begin to compound as the related costs (such as veteran's affairs and debt service) gradually diminish. If you think that a cut to $300 billion is too far-fetched a goal, then pick your own number.

Think about this: al Qaeda had already attempted to take down the twin towers in 1993, which could not be prevented by military spending. Spending 3 or 4% or so of GDP on "defense" turned out to be money down the drain, because it did nothing to defend against the only real threat our homeland faced.

Defense spending is not the answer to the real threats to our homeland. There is no country on the planet that poses a conventional military threat to us. A $700 billion defense budget has but one purpose: to attack other nations—to kill their soldiers and civilians and to destroy their military capability, and their homes. That's the true purpose of our defense budget. We're lying to ourselves if we think otherwise.

What could we accomplish with an annual $400 billion peace dividend? That comes to about 2.6% of GDP. Infrastructure, basic research, and education come readily to mind. This would put millions of Americans to work doing something beneficial, rather than killing people and destroying things and creating enemies.

An immediate $400 billion cut in defense spending is obviously not going to happen abruptly. But we could get to that figure in stages. (One of those stages must be to defeat Republicans at the polls.) It will take a generation or two before we can begin to undo the damage that our belligerence has brought upon us.    

What can we Democrats do to promote this idea? First, we could pledge to ourselves and to the world that we are not going to unilaterally start any more wars. Any future military action in which we take part would be undertaken by the United Nations, or of some other coalition of nations such as NATO. Second, we could set in motion a plan to reduce our global military footprint by at least 50%. Third, we could insist on using the "peace dividend" domestically to invest in the nation's real assets: infrastructure, basic research, and education.

To me, that sounds like a better plan than starting wars.

Originally posted to Tim DeLaney on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 09:07 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (140+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Horace Boothroyd III, arizonablue, a2nite, fcvaguy, tardis10, smileycreek, Nospinicus, jm214, Azazello, mookins, allenjo, Glen The Plumber, Youffraita, side pocket, paradise50, navajo, belinda ridgewood, sagansong, Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees, Detlef, buckstop, LibrErica, brasilaaron, Mr Robert, JohnnySacks, cotterperson, slksfca, Meteor Blades, earlybird, Matt Z, wdrath, Dolphin99, Here since 02, keyscritter, Simplify, enhydra lutris, lunachickie, Dragon5616, susanWAstate, Blicero, rocksout, Emmet, RandomNonviolence, melpomene1, monkeybrainpolitics, i dunno, jakedog42, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, skepticalcitizen, Superpole, gulfgal98, NonnyO, myrmecia gulosa, ZedMont, eeff, citisven, Mr Horrible, Kdoug, LilithGardener, lenzy1000, Bisbonian, bbctooman, stevemb, DrSUSE, Calvino Partigiani, OLinda, afox, YucatanMan, bnasley, Buckeye54, oofer, George3, Hirodog, Cassandra Waites, sceptical observer, Laurel in CA, Chaddiwicker, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, roses, caul, Steveningen, native, CalBearMom, This old man, Mxwll, MadGeorgiaDem, maryabein, JohnB47, beverlywoods, ChemBob, jbob, GwenM, Nowhere Man, kharma, willyr, Hillbilly Dem, hlsmlane, Geenius at Wrok, richardvjohnson, PrometheusUnbound, Aureas2, ashowboat, zerelda, citizen dan, dkmich, PhilJD, devis1, peregrine kate, stagemom, Cat Servant, nancyjones, conniptionfit, Andrew F Cockburn, yoduuuh do or do not, The Wizard, milkbone, Gorette, BOHICA, Petered, TracieLynn, OHBRAD, Zinman, kurt, Calamity Jean, Tool, rhutcheson, sny, salmo, mzinformed, radarlady, SherwoodB, dandy lion, RUNDOWN, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, cybersaur, Orinoco, dewley notid, NanaoKnows, Gustogirl, flavor411

    Republicans proved in October that they are UNFIT TO GOVERN. Don't let the voter forget it. (-7.25, -6.21)

    by Tim DeLaney on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 09:07:58 AM PST

  •  Fully agree with all your points (14+ / 0-)

    But, take some exception with the issue of Afghanistan. That is indeed a NATO engagement. There were 40,000 non-US troops there.

    There was far more justification for the Afghan campaign, and zero justification for Iraq, imo.

    On the larger point, there is alot that should be done to cut our military and intelligence budgets

    •  I agree (14+ / 0-)

      Yes, it was justified, IMO.

      But my point is that the Afghanistan war was not worth the investment in blood and treasure. The very best we could say is that it served as a base for the bin Laden operation.

      Republicans proved in October that they are UNFIT TO GOVERN. Don't let the voter forget it. (-7.25, -6.21)

      by Tim DeLaney on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 09:31:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  WHICH "Afghan campaign?" First or second? (11+ / 0-)

      In both of which "we," apparently unguided by any actual "mission," except "we kill dome of them so they kill some of us so we kill some of them...", engage in large scale corruption, to the point of electrocuting our own troops in contractor-built showers, deliver bags and bales of used, non-sequential $100 bills to "our friends," have young jarhead sergenats telling villagers that they have to move back into a recently trashed market town because "doctrine" calls for it and be confounded by the observation that "How will you Americans protect us? With all your weapons and technology you cannot protect yourselves." Or where "we" bribe "insurgents" and "terrorists" to not blow up "our" convoys carrying $400+ a gallon (delivered) fuel and munitions to "the front" as decreed by some bunch of idiot Brass Hats "for this campaign"?

      What was the "justification?" That some little bunch of what we call "ragheads" might have not turned bin Ladin over to the US forces? Or how about "we have to save the women and girls"?

      The idiocy and waste and fraud and abuse are so totally institutionalized, and you know that "cuts" as seen with the recent sequester charade, are friggin' impossible. Can't even hardly slow the RATE OF GROWTH of the enormous cancer that is the Mindless Military Industrial Media Security Complex...

      "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

      by jm214 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 09:40:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ya, we won't agree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tim DeLaney, Dragon5616
        •  I was once a believer too... ENLISTED in 1966 (17+ / 0-)

          to go kill commies in Vietnam. $4 trillion later... the Afghan thing (there's fighting, but that does not make it a "war" even per the Pentagon) is taking a run at $6 trillion from what I read. Tell me again what "the mission" is, what the "justification" is, for that? So "our guy," Karzai, can piss on our leg while we hand him billions? what?

          Of course, whether you and I "agree" or not, the billions, in their hundreds and thousands, will still flow into the maw of Moloch, making "nice middle class incomes" for a pittance of the population and moving the planet a little closer to death by cancer...

          "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

          by jm214 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 01:06:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Kudos for your service (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tim DeLaney, paradise50

            I totally respect anyone who served their country. 10 years here, but never had to hold a weapon.

            •  Not even in Boot? I thought everyone had to at (0+ / 0-)

              least train in basic weapons handling and pass a basic qualification...

              I mean even if a noncombatant of some type, everyone might need to shoot someone someday in the military....We are used to being able to take and hold ground but that ground gets attacked regularly........Heck that was why the M-1 Carbine came to being so that Transport drivers and such had a weapon with more range than a sidearm.

              Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
              I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
              Emiliano Zapata

              by buddabelly on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 05:12:05 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tim DeLaney, paradise50

            Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky, Bell Textron, Northrop Grumman, B.A.E., Raytheon, General Dynamics, Genreral Atomics, Halliburton, Boeing, Xe, Trijicon, Colt, Barrett, and on, and on and on ....

            It doesn't seem like they'll be slowing down any time soon does it?

            Reaganomics noun pl: blind faith that unregulated capitalism can provide unlimited goods and services, that government is bad and it can increase revenue by decreasng revenue. Synonyms: Friedmanomics. Antonyms: common sense. Related Words: Laffer curve

            by FrY10cK on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 06:33:53 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  ...jm214... (13+ / 0-)

        ...just as the Viet Nam war was really for the Bell Helicoptor "Huey helicoptor" (Lady Bird's daddy was really pushing for that...he made a mint) to make a shitload of money,

        The Afghanistan and Iraq Wars were for Halibuton and all the rest to make shitloads of money...as in $billions. It wasn't about winning any quick war. It was always intended to be a l-o-n-g drawn out deal so Cheney and the other henchmen (including very Fundie groups) could continue to make $billions. There is plenty of evidence this was planned out long before we ever got involved.

        Here is something from Cornell you might be interested in:

        http://www.cs.cornell.edu/...

        The bullshit reason to get into Iraq was for the same purpose.

        We don't do wars anymore we do "conflicts" and "nation building" which NEVER happens BUT the few who control these actions make shitloads...

        Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

        by paradise50 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 11:10:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm a Viet vet who was stupid enough to ENLIST (11+ / 0-)

          in 1966 to "save the nation." I spent 366 days playing with those Bell-Textron UH-1 series helicopters.

          Regarding "nation building," here's an illumination on what the Warlords mean by that resounding phrase:

          AUTHOR: COL Jayne A. Carson
          TITLE: Nation-Building, The American Way
          FORMAT: Strategy Research Project
          DATE: 07 April 2003
          PAGES: 39
          CLASSIFICATION: Unclassified

          The United States has conducted nation-building operations since 1898 and does so in a uniquely American way.

          Nation-building is the intervention in the affairs of a nation-state for the purpose of changing the state’s method of government and when the United States pursues these efforts there is one goal – democratization.
          [they don't even try to define "democratization" of course] Removing existing governments requires force, and history has shown that the Army is the force of choice. The story of America’s nation- building efforts starts with the Spanish-American War when the United States decided that Cuba and the Philippines should no longer be colonies of Spain. After defeating Spain in Cuba and routing their forces from the Philippines, the United States began nation-building efforts to establish democratic governments that were representative of the populace.

          This paper examines select nation-building operations beginning in Cuba and the Philippines. The success of transforming post WWII Germany and Japan are described, as are the failures in Somalia and Haiti, and the ongoing efforts in Bosnia and Kosovo. It concludes with an examination of the Herculean efforts that will be required if the United States is to see success in Afghanistan.

          The United States is reluctant to use the term nation-building and for this reason, many military personnel do not understand the critical role the military plays in this mission. It is a role that extends long past the time
          that battles, campaigns, and wars have been won. The military, specifically the Army as the ground presence and symbol of America’s commitment, is required to remain in place long after the fight has been won in order to create the conditions for democracy to take root. This is the reason why Army officers need to understand why and how the United States builds nations

          http://www.fas.org/...

          Reads like a freshman history paper. A scary one, with every little shibboleth of American Exceptionalism and the serial idiocy, greed and FAIL of "muscular foreign policy" touched on and fondled. And these are the asswipes who set "our" policy and "conduct" our freakin' wars, from their ergonomic workstations from which they "manage conflict" in this or that "command" of the fucking idiocy labeled the Global Interoperable (and a bunch of other adjectives) Network-Centric Contractor-Driven Battlespace. http://www.nytimes.com/...

          Of course, "nation-building," that's just a nominal Milbabble "mission" laid over what a few actual patriots like Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler have pointed out as the real nature of the bullshit that sucks in and sucker-baits generation after generation of US populations (can't call them "citizens," darn it): "War is a Racket:" the real nature of the beast. http://www.youtube.com/...

          "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

          by jm214 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 01:00:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  We have a government-within-a government (19+ / 0-)

    in  this country. The U.S. military government is self-empowered, self-sustaining and self-financed. Congress, with all its protestations about serving its constituents, is completely beholden to the military-defense combine. Overstated, you say? Consider the track record of Congress on military spending. It finds its own justification and that justification is not national defense but the steady stream of taxpayer money that travels the unholy triangle from Congress to the Pentagon to military contractors and back to Congress in the form of campaign contributions.

    Can and will taxpayer outrage over this huge misappropriation of money be stopped? Not a chance. Power - congressional, military, defense contractors - is too entrenched to be stopped. Don't believe me? Watch the howls that arise when even the prospect of defense cuts comes before Congress.    

  •  boys and their toys (5+ / 0-)

    Young men wanting to strut their stuff and old men wanting to [vicariously] show they've still got it.  And people making a whole hell of a lot of money off of stoking masculine ambition and fear.

    Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

    by Visceral on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 09:32:31 AM PST

  •  Social Security is called the 'Third Rail' (17+ / 0-)

    Of politics, but for the past four years at least, SS cuts have been seriously talked about for the ridiculous Grand Bargain by both sides. But no politician in their right mind would ever have the guts to propose any serious discussion of the needed massive cuts in military spending, because they know THAT'S instant death for their career and ambitions, both in office and afterwards with any fat lobbyist or military contractor jobs.

    "You and me in Japan - watch me DANCE!" - Capt. Jean-Luc Picard

    by Fordmandalay on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 09:54:38 AM PST

  •  I disagree that there is no benefit. (5+ / 0-)

    I disagree that 'we citizens get practically no benefit from it'. Defense spending is a huge economic engine that provides direct and indirect jobs in many communities. Defense spending supports research in many of the National Labs. There is a great deal of technology transfer from that research to the private sector.

    •  Are you suggesting (7+ / 0-)

      that we should kill, maim, and destroy because ... jobs?

      My point was that the actual activities of armed forces benefit nobody. Armed conflict is not an economic good. Rather than creating wealth, it destroys wealth, not to mention lives.

      With the same reasoning, we could approve of Mafia hit men, because ... jobs.

      Republicans proved in October that they are UNFIT TO GOVERN. Don't let the voter forget it. (-7.25, -6.21)

      by Tim DeLaney on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 10:29:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Again I disagree (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dragon5616, fcvaguy, buddabelly, artmartin

        Very little of the 'actual activities' of the armed forces is killing, maiming, and destroying. I am certainly not in favor of those activities. And yes, defense spending is a major jobs program in this county.

        •  correction (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dragon5616

          country, not county

        •  And I too disagree. (11+ / 0-)

          The purpose, function, and reason for existence of armies is to kill, maim, and destroy. That's what they do. All their tools are designed to accomplish that goal.

          If the military budget were instead devoted to improving our infrastructure, the same jobs would be created. The difference is that we would have something to show for it. You know, roads, bridges, water treatment plants, etc.

          Republicans proved in October that they are UNFIT TO GOVERN. Don't let the voter forget it. (-7.25, -6.21)

          by Tim DeLaney on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 10:56:21 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Dude, you're typing on the decendent of DARPANET (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            robin666

            and then it was still just ARPA iirc.....most of the tech in our daily lives including low tech like the interstate highway system and high tech like gps location and mapping are all directly from military applications.

            Most of our Tech over the last century was based in either actual defense programs or the theoretical programs,
            DARPA is often the only one who will fund the research.

            Satellite TV is another direct result of mil-spending....as is most all modern tech in some way or another be it materials or skills.

            Honestly, I'd rather see research funded by the Gov not the Mil budget but they won't.......  for now, much innovation has been completely dependent on something developed by the Military originally......I don't see that changing soon unfortunately because nothing prys a Senators pockets open like a nice engineering/manufacturing facility like Raytheon in their district.....

            I love that we have Raytheon DMAFB many other smaller mil contractors, They add high quality jobs to our tax base and keep little ol tuk-shon kicking with our jobless starts back to pre-crash levels.....

            As well as the pushing of the envelope that DARPA does....

            Like the Railgun they are trying to develop for the navy....last I heard they had a 45-46 megajoule energy release on impact and this is still the barest of small stages......it is a possible cut in these new budget cuts......This could be a free ride to space for the raw materials we need to begin to build a real space infrastructure and stop digging virgin ground here searching for the materials we most certainly need to maintain a state of comfortable society like we have for most.....

            Throwing out the baby with the bathwater Granny called it.......

            Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
            I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
            Emiliano Zapata

            by buddabelly on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 05:34:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Are you saying the tech could not be invented (0+ / 0-)

              unless we are planning for war?  I don't think anyone is arguing against investing in new technologies, but changing how we invest.  Perhaps if we were thinking of new ways to build bombs, we might be able to invent new health care treatments, green energy, etc.  

              Instead of devoting all their time to building a "railgun" they could directly invest in space.  Cut out the bloated, destructive middle man.  

          •  Except then (0+ / 0-)

            There would be, you know, no defense. Or a limited amount.

            I'm fine for reducing the budget to reduce the amount of offense we can put out.

            But as long as America is around, it will need some sort of force that is dedicated to killing, maiming, and destroying. If we didn't, do you think countries would hesitate going up against us?

            Sometimes, I wonder why I consider myself a Democrat. Before too long though, dumb Republicans saying dumb things come along to remind me.

            by LnGrrrR on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 05:51:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Pay the Lot Of Them to Stay Home (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tim DeLaney, Dragon5616, CA148 NEWS

          ... cut out the corporate middlemen.  Zero loss...

        •  Well, that's what they're most efficient (0+ / 0-)

          at in that case.  They've killed a whole shitload of people, after all!

      •  That's just plain rude (0+ / 0-)

        to insinuate that robin said what she did because she believes killing, maiming and destroying is justified because of the benefits we receive.  I read her post as simply stating the complexity of the issue.  Stop being divisive.  No issue is black and white.  

      •  According to General Butler (0+ / 0-)

        we DO approve of Mafia hit men... at least their uniformed equivalent. But the reason is protecting the investments of our bankers and capitalists.

        Great diary, by the way, Tim.

        "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

        by Orinoco on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 04:39:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not so. Defense spending is capital intensive (16+ / 0-)

      and produces far fewer jobs than the same amount of money invested in civilian products and services.

      In our capital economic system it is incumbent on companies that fail to produce  profitable goods or services to rise to the competition and change or go out of business. Not so for defense contractors who fail and fail again with cost overruns and unmet deadlines and consistently receive congressional bailouts.    

      •  Yep. It's difficult to imagine (8+ / 0-)

        A better business model than manufacturing expensive devices for a guaranteed customer at a guaranteed profit margin, that are DESIGNED to be blown to bits so you can make more of them and sell them again, over and over.

        The key though is you need constant WAR to ensure the expensive devices are used and blown up regularly.  And so we have lobbyists who advocate 'bomb, bomb, bomb . . . Bomb, Bomb Iran!"

        You say "A $700 billion defense budget has but one purpose: to attack other nations".  The real motivation is PROFIT.

        We're ALL better off when we're ALL better off!

        by susanWAstate on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 02:11:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You are so right (0+ / 0-)

        but turning that around, the transitional period between the two models, has to be done slowly and intelligently understanding that the MIC is a huge part of our economic engine and it can't just be transferred overnight without terrible financial strife.

    •  Sad, No Technology Unless Developed for Killing (8+ / 0-)

      You're saying we'd all be living in some technological stone age if it weren't for all the money wasted on more efficiently killing other humans and/or repairing the bodily damage from men being shot and blown up.

      Really sad pathetic commentary on our scientific priorities.

      •  +2 n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dragon5616

        Republicans proved in October that they are UNFIT TO GOVERN. Don't let the voter forget it. (-7.25, -6.21)

        by Tim DeLaney on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 11:11:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know about the stone age (4+ / 0-)

        but there has been a lot of technology that had it start with defense spending. DARPA developed the infrastructure for the Internet, communication satellites, and soon to be autonomous vehicles. The National Ignition Facility was designed for  nuclear weapons research, but may also lead to nuclear fusion energy. Just a few examples.

        •  No Agument From Me (5+ / 0-)

          Other examples should include:

          Prosthetic limbs

          Gunshot trauma treatment and triage

          PTSD psychological treatment

          Long term effects and treatment of radiation exposure

          •  I am reminded of the (3+ / 0-)

            high suicide rate among combat veterans. Surely, there must be some beneficial fall-out from this.

            Republicans proved in October that they are UNFIT TO GOVERN. Don't let the voter forget it. (-7.25, -6.21)

            by Tim DeLaney on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 11:41:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  sex reassignment surgery (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            robin666

            Penicillen
            jet aircraft
            Diagnostic medical ultrasound
            Cosmetic surgery
            microsurgery

            Not to mention a huge jobs training program.

            Only 10% of the armed forces are "warfighters"  the rest fix stuff, build stuff, move stuff, and heal stuff.  All of those people get out and bring their skills to the private sector...myself included.

            I would agree that we could, and should, spend a hell of a lot less on national defense.  But then what? We could mothball our fleet, stop building fighters and bombers, and discontinue funding for advanced research.  Who then is going to fill the void that will be created when the US military pulls back?  China? Russia?  You know that someone will.  

            •  What "Void"? (0+ / 0-)

              Do you imagine that if we leave our bases in Japan, or Germany, or Djibouti, or elsewhere, the Chinese or the Russians are going to move in to them? Like the bases themselves produce some kind of military vacuum that can only be filled by uniformed war fighters?

              If there is a 'void' out there in the rest of the world, it is an economic void, not a military one, and that is quite handily being filled by the Chinese right now, our most powerful military in the world notwithstanding.

              We should listen to the Republican spin on ObamaCare: you make friends and political allies by giving them free stuff. And, in fact, that's pretty much how we do it. Only the free stuff we give them is military hardware. We'd make a lot more, and better, friends by giving away tractors.

              "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

              by Orinoco on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 04:57:35 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Didn't DARPA invent the internet? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        robin666

        and would Boeing and Airbus exist today if it wasn't for all the Military R&D spent on aircraft technology research and development?

        I'm not making excuses for military spending and I actually agree with your point. But, there have indeed been spin-offs.

        •  There are indeed spin offs (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fcvaguy

          But Jack Kennedy proved that ANY major national cause will produce similar spin offs. NASA came up with a lot more than Tang.

          Can you imagine what the spin offs might be if we directed $700 billion a year toward reducing carbon in the ocean and air and in mitigating the looming effects of Global Warming? I can't, but I know there would be many.

          "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

          by Orinoco on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 05:04:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The Cost/Benfit Ratio is Miniscule (4+ / 0-)

      we're ALL paying taxes which go to our bloated military; the direct benefit to we the people in terms of jobs is small beer.

      enlisted people don't get paid crap for the first 6-8 years they are in, many of them are on the SNAP program because their pay is so low they can't afford the basics.

      "research"? you mean like the recent announcement the defense dept. will research an "Iron Man" suit that can't even F***ing fly?

      "The 1% don't want SOLUTIONS; they've worked very hard the last four decades to get conditions the way they are now".

      by Superpole on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 04:15:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We don't have a defensive military (16+ / 0-)

    A defensive military would look something like what the Swiss have. Designed to make you pay an unacceptable price for every inch of territory gained.

    We have a military designed for "power projection", which is polite speak for beating up small countries and taking their lunch money.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 01:06:32 PM PST

  •  War is Waste (11+ / 0-)

    Wars are not "won", they are lost by countries who run out of resources to throw at the conflict.  It would be appropriate if the International Symbol for waste were a pentagon.

  •  and the sickest thing of all... (10+ / 0-)

    ...is how Republicans insist that we're spending too much money, and yet refuse to even consider cutting from the so-called "defense" budget, even though it represents almost a third of our entire budget. In fact, there are Republicans who call themselves fiscally conservative who actually think we need to increase defense spending even more.

    First and foremost, it seems to me that we progressives need to do a much better job framing issues, especially when it comes to this nation's budget.

    It would probably come as a shock to most Americans to know that three-quarters of our entire annual budget is for defense and that a large chunk of that is for things that the Pentagon doesn't even want or need.

  •  The problem is that war is big business (10+ / 0-)

    There are many that have a vested interest in it continuing.

    When the F**K are we going to wake up and do something about this mess?

    by keyscritter on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 01:28:24 PM PST

    •  Smedley Butler said it best. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

          The most legendary and decorated Marine of them all. He was TWICE awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor (two separate acts of courage and valor); only one other Marine has that distincttion. He, of course, said "War is a racket". But he also said "I'm just high class muscle for big business".  

      The Republican motto: "There's been a lot of progress in this country over the last 75 years, and we've been against all of it."

      by Hillbilly Dem on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 05:37:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We didn't have a "Department of Defense" in WWII- (10+ / 0-)

    we had a "War Department."

    I am very sorry that the name was changed, because there is a limit to the money it is reasonable to allocate for the War Department when we are not at war.

    But there is no end to the money that can be "justified" for defense.

    The right of the women of this State to be secure in their persons against unreasonable searches shall not be violated by the State legislature.

    by Mayfly on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 01:31:26 PM PST

    •  We had a Department of the Navy (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hillbilly Dem, Mayfly

      at Cabinet level until 1949, alongside the Department of War, when together with the  Department of the Army (renamed from Department of War in 1947) and Department of the Air Force (established 1947) it was made subordinate to a newly established Cabinet-level Department of Defense.

      During WW2 Secretary of War Henry Stimson and Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox were both members of FDR's Cabinet. (And both Republicans who served him & the nation faithfully. Yes, kids, there was a time when that could have & occasionally did happen.)

      Just FYI.

      The greatest trick the GOP ever played was convincing the devil they had a soul to sell.

      by Uncle Cosmo on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 12:35:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  defense appropriations are more than defense (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dragon5616, robin666

    bridge building, scholarships, cancer research, etc. are paid for by defense appropriations.  A hodgepodge of things gets funded as oart of defense because they're extremely likely to be passed by Congress.  In some ways, that "peace dividend" has already been happening for decades.

    •  Tiny peace dividend (4+ / 0-)

      The amount that the DoD spends on bridge building, scholarships, and cancer research is tiny compared to what it spends on Abrams tanks, F-35 fighters, wars, golf courses for officers all over the war, DC lobbying, and all the other aspects of "power projection", warfighting, and maintaining the military-industrial complex. The amount of the "peace dividend" you are talking about is tiny compared to the $400 - $600 billion/year we should be getting.

      •  please do a little homework (0+ / 0-)

        for breast cancer alone, the DoD spends ~$150 million/year every year for the past couple decades.  And that's one kind of cancer and there's a ton of other medical research.  The bridge building aspect is huge -- $5 billion/year just for the civilian arm of of the Army Corps of Engineers.  Scholarships?  If you think of the VA as part of the military budget and the GI Bill as a scholarship program, there's another $8 billion/year.  

        And there's more, of course.  I just rattled off a few examples off the top of my head.  A fair chunk of NASA's budget is considered military spending.  There's lots of babies in the bathwater, here.  People who are intent on cutting the defense budget really ought to account for that.

    •  You're say we must use subterfuge ... (4+ / 0-)

      to get money for bridge building (where?), scholarships (for whom and why?) and cancer research (caused by depleted uranium munitions?).  Because it is easier?  That is precisely the problem.  I few scholarships to shield boondoggles like the F-22 and F-35 is a poor trade-off.  

      The systematic corruption of the procurement process of the "Defense" Department is not defensible on rational grounds.  It is a full-employment program for Aerospace and other industry executives as well as the highly compensated engineers and manager they employ.  

      There is no state in the union that does not have a vested interest in keeping the status quo intact.  For this reason you will not see a "War Profiteering Commission" like Harry Truman lead nor will you see any serious changes.  Not until they have killed the goose that laid the golden egg and the economy collapses under uncontrolled military expenditures.

      The same thing that killed off the Roman, English, Japanese and every other hegemony.

      You have the right to remain silent. If you waive that right you will be accused of class warfare.

      by spritegeezer on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 02:26:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  As long as these obscene amounts of money (5+ / 0-)

    continue to be spent on unnecessary expenditures there can be NO talks of cutting ANY types of social safety net spending. NONE!

    "Onward through the fog!" - Oat Willie

    by rocksout on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 02:04:58 PM PST

  •  No nation is going to attack us. (8+ / 0-)

    I mean, really. All threats in the future will be asymmetrical. The best defense against that is diplomacy and education, not war. Build consensus on basic human rights.

    We are wasting our national treasure, our people, and our moral standing (what shred is left after the last seventy years).

    Great diary, Tim.

    "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

    by Dragon5616 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 02:20:47 PM PST

  •  I have always found it amazing and amusing that (5+ / 0-)

    every empire in history--from Roman to Spanish to British to us--has always managed to convince itself that it was acting totally in self-defense.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 03:11:12 PM PST

  •  We could cut the military budget (7+ / 0-)

    in half and it would only return to the Clinton era--in which we already spent more on our military than the rest of the world combined. Eisenhower's quote about every dollar spent on the military being theft from the hungry is correct.

    "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. http://www.kynect.ky.gov/ for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

    by SouthernLeveller on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 03:32:32 PM PST

  •  Bumped, and Too Bad This (4+ / 0-)

    diary will never be front paged.

    Prepare for the obvious: McCain, Graham and other MIC front men are already whining and belching forth the usual "our military is not prepared, can't fight three separate wars at once, needs to replace crucial hardware", blah, blah, blah.. and are working to convince congressional democrats to now allow sequestration cuts to our bloated "defense" budget.

    weak, very weak.

    this will prove beyond a doubt who is actually running our nation.

    "The 1% don't want SOLUTIONS; they've worked very hard the last four decades to get conditions the way they are now".

    by Superpole on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 03:43:28 PM PST

    •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lotlizard

      Our military budget drives me nuts. I wouldn't be so bad if we were making friends with all these wars military actions.

      Republicans proved in October that they are UNFIT TO GOVERN. Don't let the voter forget it. (-7.25, -6.21)

      by Tim DeLaney on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 03:49:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Correction: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tim DeLaney, lotlizard, Orinoco

      and are working to convince congressional democrats to NOT allow sequestration cuts to our bloated "defense" budget.

      "The 1% don't want SOLUTIONS; they've worked very hard the last four decades to get conditions the way they are now".

      by Superpole on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 04:21:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's the way I read it (0+ / 0-)

        subconsciously. Amazing how the brain works sometimes.

        Republicans proved in October that they are UNFIT TO GOVERN. Don't let the voter forget it. (-7.25, -6.21)

        by Tim DeLaney on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 04:24:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nancyjones

          My point is Stumpy McCain is OK with cutting $4 Billion from the SNAP program, allowing children in our nation to go hungry-- but he wants our bloated military FULLY funded. in fact, he's probably asking for MORE funding for the military.

          the so called democrats in congress will go along with this travesty.

          weak.

          "The 1% don't want SOLUTIONS; they've worked very hard the last four decades to get conditions the way they are now".

          by Superpole on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 02:01:06 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary (6+ / 0-)

    This diary should be on the front page and rec listed.  It covers all the issues that I have with our military and our current "war OF terrorism."  We are the most terrorist nation on earth and everything we are doing under the guise of stopping terrorism is doing nothing more than creating more people to hate us.

    I am currently involved in a local Peace vigil that meets every Saturday from noon to one pm in the downtown of the small town where I am at. Here is what I posted on another diary today regarding the drone program.

    The drone strike program is one of the worst ideas coming out of this administration.  Our Peace vigil group has discussed this and find it incredibly short sighted.  It won't be long before everyone else in the world will have the technology to do drone strikes on us.  But Obama has sold the American public that drone strikes are the way to go.  We have seen that in discussions with people during our weekly Peace vigil and as long as "our boys" are not dying, people seem to have no problem with drone strikes.  Sad.
    One of our "one on one efforts" is to try to educate people about why the drone program is so bad for us in the long run. Most people are against war because they do not want to see any more Americans dying, but they still have not made the connection between the war on terror and why the United States has become so universally despised.

    Thank you for this excellent diary. Tipped and very much recommended.

    "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West "It was a really naked declaration of imperialism." ~ Jeremy Scahill on Obama's speech to the UN

    by gulfgal98 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 03:49:58 PM PST

    •  Thank you. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gulfgal98, lotlizard, Hillbilly Dem

      The drone program (I hate to call it a program) is a prime example of the "Hammer -- nail" syndrome.

      Most people are against war because they do not want to see any more Americans dying, but they still have not made the connection between the war on terror and why the United States has become so universally despised.
      This is so true. And your calling it "a war OF terrorism" hits the mark.

      Republicans proved in October that they are UNFIT TO GOVERN. Don't let the voter forget it. (-7.25, -6.21)

      by Tim DeLaney on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 04:01:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Total lack of empathy on Americans' part. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gulfgal98, nancyjones

      http://www.opednews.com/...

      David Swanson is a rare exception.

      Most Americans just plain 100% refuse to even consider how we would feel, if what we consider normal for us to do to other people were being done to us.

      The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

      by lotlizard on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 06:46:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This commentary is so on the money (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard, nancyjones

        I had a similar conversation with a woman about a month ago when I asked her how she would feel if other countries were attacking us with drones.  Based upon her answer, it was obvious to me that she could not even begin to envision what we are doing to other innocent people in the world through our drone program. This is the mindset that over 2/3 of all Americans have and it is so short sighted and so wrong.  

        "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West "It was a really naked declaration of imperialism." ~ Jeremy Scahill on Obama's speech to the UN

        by gulfgal98 on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 03:46:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The War Department became the Defense (6+ / 0-)

    Department in 1949, one of the greatest con jobs to ever come out of the MIC.

    It should be changed back to the War Department to remove any illusion that it is a passive organization.  If it happens to act in a defensive mode, fine, but the chance of that relative to the absolute certainty that it will be used to wage aggressive wars with little or no impact on U.S. security is slim.

    At least with the War Department you had truth in advertising.

    Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

    by ZedMont on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 04:19:35 PM PST

    •  Funny - had this conversation today (0+ / 0-)

      All of use were in favor of returning to being the War Department.

      I would say that the vast majority of us who join the military did not do so to nation build or provide humanitarian assistance.  The Peace Corps is much better at it and its their mission.

      I would be all for renaming it the War Department and at the same time restricting it to matters of war.  That said, you need to understand the second order costs.

      A War Department would have a very small professional, full time core of Officers and NCOs.  They would be the brains.  The braun wold come from conscripted soldiers - a return to the draft.  

      Much has been made of the relatively low rate of casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan compared to past wars.  Technology and medical advances have a lot to do with that but a bigger factor is training.  100% of our current force is what we would refer to as "professionals."  Training is comprehensive and the majority of the force has years of experience.  Gone are the days of 6 weeks of training followed by a year in combat and then a discharge.  

      All that would change with a "War Department."  We would spend much less on our smaller professional force and even less on the draftee we called up for actual wars.  We would "spend" (read kill) draftees much more easily and trading people for time would be a strategy, not an act of desperation.

      Careful what you ask for, you might get it.

      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 06:07:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  First diary in a while that has touched... (4+ / 0-)

    on our insane military spending!...And it really does infuriate me when msm starts talking about a "grand bargain" and what kind of entitlements (yeah, I just used that word) need to be cut verses possible new revenues. There is almost no one that mentions military spending, there is no debate, not in congress, not in msm. I mean, I understand why the pols don't want to touch the issue (not that it makes it ok), but the media??? I guess if there is no chance in something getting done about it soon, there really is no need to talk about it, outrageous military spending is ignored.

    Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science. CHARLES DARWIN.

    by Tronsix2 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 04:45:50 PM PST

    •  I think the reason it's not much discussed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lotlizard, gulfgal98

      is that it is altogether too easy to conflate the support of our troops with support of the wars that our "leaders" start.

      Everybody supports the troops, and I do as well. I was once one of them, though never in a combat role. The distinction is a little blurry.

      Republicans proved in October that they are UNFIT TO GOVERN. Don't let the voter forget it. (-7.25, -6.21)

      by Tim DeLaney on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 05:03:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It also is our largest export ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tim DeLaney, lotlizard

    To address the insanity of it all:

    In 2011 we sold 17 F-16's to the Government of Iraq (now THAT'S a stable Government):
    http://www.defensenews.com/...
    And this year with all the peace they brought we are selling 52 more:
    http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/...
    Follow the links … I'm not making this up.
  •  Somewhat disagree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tim DeLaney, nancyjones

    Disclaimer - I am on active duty now and have been my entire adult life.

    So this is a pretty broad diary and while I might agree with the overall idea that we spend a LOT on DoD we also ask it to do a lot.

    Those aircraft carriers you are so dismissive of ensure freedom of the seas.  That in turn allows global commerce.  Now we can debate the goodness of global commerce but that is a different subject.  Captain Phillips is a great story but the reality is that without the US Navy, piracy would drive prices for everything sky high and I dont like the idea of corporate "Navies."

    Lets remember that much of what soldiers do is to ensure bad things dont happen.  It tough to prove a negative but the history of the world is filled with war yet sine the end of World War Two we have been in an extended period of relative peace.  Germany and Japan may seem friendly and docile now but they were very aggressive until they were subjected to a now nearly 70 year occupation.  Would the world have stayed peaceful had the US not put soldiers all over?  I dont know but I know the people of the low countries were grateful I was between them and the German Army.

    As some recent diaries have highlighted, we spend a lot of the DoD budget on the Guard and Reserve.  The Guard is one part jobs program and one part first responder before ever getting to its "defense" mission.  Now it may be an inefficient jobs program but it is probably the cheapest emergency responder.  

    Finally there is a cost to asking people to do a job that is horribly dangerous to the body and soul.  It is not a job many people want to do and one even fewer do well.  

    Again, I agree in a broad sense that we spend too much but I would submit that we need to take a serious look at all of the things we ask DoD to do and decide if we need to ask for less in addition to paying for less.  So far I have heard all about cutting spending on DoD but no one has taken anything out of my rucksack

    P.S. Cancel the F22 an F35!

    It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

    by ksuwildkat on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 05:51:01 PM PST

  •  Bring the estimated 1.3 million US troops home (4+ / 0-)

    ang get them rebuilding our decaying infrastructure.

    Why do we still need 50k troops on Japan and 50k troops on Germany or 30k troops on Korea?

  •  If you have a couple of hours, I recommend (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tim DeLaney, flavor411

    watching the documentary 'Why We Fight'.  It shows the real reason we have such a military (and congress and i ndustry) that consumes so much and provides so little.

  •  . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tim DeLaney

    it seems Bin Laden actually won spectacularly if he actually had anything to do with 9/11.  

    "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

    by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 09:02:57 PM PST

  •  I'm retired military and agree with the diarist (4+ / 0-)

    that the military budget is blotted beyond all reason.  We have more generals on active duty now than we had at the height of WWII.  I believe in a strong defense but the key word is defense.  We really have no current enemy.  Oh, I forgot the mighty host of the Taliban.  Tell me about their super navy and their air power.   The military operational system has become rotten corrupt.  According to a Commission that looked into Afghanistan/Iraq contractors they ripped us off to the tune of 60 billion dollars.  How much has been recovered?  There still is a lot of corruption in the current military service contracts.  
       I got the following email today from mil.com.  I’m sure the Congress will go along with the General’s recommendation.  Yeah in a pig’s xxx eye!  And what the hell did he mean about being a bad business model.  The Arm Forces is not supposed to be a business is it?

    The email:

    The Air Force's top general wants Congress to examine closing bases and grant him the authority to trim the ranks.
    Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh met with the service's top brass during a weeklong conference at the Air Force Academy that ended Saturday. Facing $1 trillion in Pentagon budget cuts over a decade, he wants the tools used by corporate America to weather the downturn.
    "We need help in planning for the future," Welsh said in an interview. "We can adjust to any reality once we have a reality."
    While the military has a year left of warfare in Afghanistan, cuts won't wait.
    The first set of cuts, about $500 billion, was devised in 2008 by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates as a way to trim the wartime fat from the military over a decade. The second set -- the ones worrying Welsh -- were ordered by Congress under the sequestration budget deal. The deficit slashing plan requires the Pentagon to make $500 billion in across-the-board cuts over 10 years, with no leeway to tailor what is trimmed.
    "It's a bad business model," Welsh said.
    Welsh wants to examine cutting bases and the roster because that's where the money is.
    "Those two things make up 55 percent of our overall budget," he said.

    •  It's the Overhead Industry. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tim DeLaney, This old man, flavor411

      The vast majority of DoD money gets skimmed off. The contracting companies have institutionalized what elsewhere would be fraud.

      DoD pays list prices. Contractors negotiate discounts and keep the difference.

      Happens again and again.

      And yes, we have nukes. We have "smart" technology more than capable of stopping a conventional invasion -- anywhere, any time.

      Spending more than $300-billion a year for "defense" is a giveaway. Dangerous to our security.

  •  It's not just bombs though (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tim DeLaney

    The defense outlay covers many things, including medical services, technological etc etc.

    I mean, the internet was a gov't funded military project. Advances in prosthetics have come a long way, as has robotics and a few other career fields. And hey, who do you think runs GPS?

    War is horrible, but it does force some amount of innovation that does trickle down to the population at large.

    Sometimes, I wonder why I consider myself a Democrat. Before too long though, dumb Republicans saying dumb things come along to remind me.

    by LnGrrrR on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 05:44:43 AM PST

  •  $300-400B Pentagon Budget (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tim DeLaney, peregrine kate

    We should spend only $300-400B on the Pentagon, instead of $1.5T. The 2013 Federal deficit was only $680B, even padded with Pentagon and many other counterproductive or worthless expenses (like oil corp subsidies, nuke plants, agricorp subsidies, big pharma subsidies, and literally a million misspent line items). We'd have an immediate $500B surplus just cutting the Pentagon, plus promptly other costs would go down as we stop funding the Pentagon diverting US production and innovation, and stop beating up partners around the world.

    We could pay down the debt to under $1T (owed to SS) in under 30 years, since debt payments (another $500B annually) would also drop in our budgets as the principal reduced. If we charged the banks back the costs they added to the debt (over $7T) we'd pay down the debt possibly in under a decade, especially if we charged the banks interest owed.

    We used to have a $350B Pentagon budget, in the 50th year of a global Cold War including a nukes arms race that busted the Soviets. Real security and defense comes from ending our conversion to the corporate anarchy capital of a global police state on our tab.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 06:05:09 AM PST

  •  PS - part of the DOD (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tim DeLaney

    the NSA is a branch of the Department of Defense .... they report to the Sec. of Defense...

    the Snowden papers gave NSA budget as $56 billion;

    This isn’t about protecting abortion it’s about protecting women. It’s about trusting women to make good decisions for themselves empowering them with tools to do that. ~ Candidate TX governor, Wendy Davis

    by anyname on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 06:20:35 AM PST

    •  the NSA (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tim DeLaney

      mandate requires that the head/director of NSA is three star general (at least three star)

      This isn’t about protecting abortion it’s about protecting women. It’s about trusting women to make good decisions for themselves empowering them with tools to do that. ~ Candidate TX governor, Wendy Davis

      by anyname on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 07:49:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Saddam... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tim DeLaney

    One of the reasons Saddam was bold enough to invade Kuwait is that he was told by US Ambassador April Glaspie that the United States had "no position" on his border dispute with his neighbor. Remember, he was our buddy until he made that move.

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 06:54:45 AM PST

  •  The plan better have a plan for (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tim DeLaney

    Decommissioning all the military equipment and munitions corporations.  Otherwise those guys will be selling that crap to every tyrant and evil-doer in the world (not that they don't already).  But then there's a market for seriously armoring and arming our local police forces.
    It's a great fantasy, and I agree we should do it, but it needs to be a VERY slow process.  It took us 50 or more years to build up the military industrial complex, it's now a pillar of our economy.  You don't unwind that in a few years without a lot of internal damage...

  •  I fully agree that a cut of the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tim DeLaney

    national defense budget from 700 billion to 300 billion is warranted but it cannot happen overnight because of one overwhelming factor that I'm absolutely sure Barack Obama has faced.  In addition to the resource outlay, a huge portion of our nation's income is either directly or indirectly tied to that military spending.  We export weapons of war.  Our military personnel, most with paltry salaries, nonetheless pay taxes, spend that money on food, housing, transportation, entertainment.  Halving the defense budget would certainly mean reduced levels of manpower, adding to the unemployment figures.  That also applies to all the civilian contractors on our military bases.  Many small businesses hang on by the contracts they are able to secure with military purchasing of goods and services.  

    Redistribution of assets around the world, bringing home the huge stockpile of equipment and support services, is expensive and time consuming.  It is not some simple and quick task.  

    What a terrible predicament we found ourselves in since Bush left office.  We have been on the brink of a horrific depression with ANY spending done by our federal government helping to stave that off.  The military budget is federal spending and morality aside it provides an economic boost to the middle class (as well as obviously to the MIC).  Pushing for a dramatic drop in that during those perilous times could have been what pushed us over the edge.  Imagine bringing home a half a million soldiers and throwing them into the job market at a time of record unemployment.   I'm beginning to think that the sequester cuts to defense were accepted by the normally hawkish right exactly because cuts there could help tank the economy.  They know if they can accomplish that they can stroll back into power and restore their MIC domination.

    We need to change our national priorities but smartly and slowly.  Perhaps that's what the drone program is all about, a simple matter of bang for the buck during the transition.  I would imagine it's actually cheaper to take out targets that way than the more manpower intensive operations of the past.  I can see why the grey has sprouted from Obama's head.  He has to have faced numerous ethical dilemmas that would send many of us to the insane asylum.  

  •  I LOVE LOVE this diary. THANK YOU!!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gulfgal98, Tim DeLaney, flavor411

    What an awesome presentation of the arguments.

    I have never seen so many reasons to shrink the god-awful US military might, not ever!

    Today John Kerry is seeking to put that Iran agreement into action. It may take a while, but if he can manage to get a good agreement we will have taken a huge step which can go toward reducing military budgets. The argument will win, it will be so evident that diplomacy works much better than wars!!

    As the Beatles sang (50 years ago was it?)

    Give peace a chance....
    just give peace a chance.

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 07:39:57 AM PST

  •  War IS the enemy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gulfgal98, Tim DeLaney
    "The enemy," resorted Yossarian
    with weighted precision, "is
    anybody who's going to get you
    killed, no matter which side he's
    on, and that includes Colonel
    Cathcart. And don't you forget
    that, because the longer you
    remember it, the longer you might
    live."
    "Nothing except a battle lost can be half as melancholy as a battle won."
    ~Duke of Wellington

    "If you pour some music on whatever's wrong, it'll sure help out." Levon Helm

    by BOHICA on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 07:47:54 AM PST

  •  Thanks for using quotes: "defense". Also,we should (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gulfgal98, Tim DeLaney, a2nite

    get in the habit of calling it military spending, not defense spending.

  •  The shocking thing about Iraq and Afghanistan (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tim DeLaney, flavor411

    is that the United States, which has the largest "defense" establishment in the world, has been fought to a standstill by people armed only with small arms and home made land mines.
       Worse: In the early years of Iraq, while the rest of us were going about our lives, the war in Iraq was being fought by 50 year old Guardsmen and the mothers of small children.
      We were armed up for colonial war without the manpower needed for an effective colonial expeditionary force.
      In a future war against a real military power, our carrier battle groups will probably be rendered useless by supersonic cruise missiles and IRBMs.
      The MIC really is a public works project. The money could be better spent on building real public works.
     

  •  Is Iran going to stop develping and destroy the (0+ / 0-)

    the work they have done on developing a weapon of mass destruction, a neuclear weapon?   If so the game changes and others may follow.  Will the mullahs take up such enormous weights of human concern and help us with our destructive bent?

    •  Even the most fanatical of Muslims (0+ / 0-)

      would realize that nuking Israel would lead to the total obliteration of Iran.

      The Iranian people (as opposed to their government) are not now implacably anti-USA by all accounts. Remember, they are not Arabs, either in culture or language. I get the sense that we could foster a genuine friendship with Iran if we don't go completely nuts. Maybe not tomorrow or next week, but eventually.

      A friendly Iran could stabilize the middle east. They are the most formidable military power in the region, barring Israel, and moreover they split the Arab world in two geographically.

      I don't discount the difficulty of such a diplomatic path. Sometimes, peace is much more difficult than war. Trouble is, we're so much better at the latter than the former.

      Republicans proved in October that they are UNFIT TO GOVERN. Don't let the voter forget it. (-7.25, -6.21)

      by Tim DeLaney on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 05:54:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nothing more than defense of corporate profits (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tim DeLaney

    AKA "Strategic Interests", like oil of course.

    Defense of political ideals (war on communism), died after Vietnam.

    All this military might is about defending our way of life, not our actual lives.

    “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

    by RUNDOWN on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 03:22:57 PM PST

  •  A complete lack of understanding about how tech (0+ / 0-)

    has developed in the 20'th and 21st centuries.  

    "What do we get for all the immense outlay of $700 billion? How does military spending benefit the average citizen? The truth is that we citizens get practically no benefit from it. Nuclear powered aircraft carriers don't make us safer. As awesome as the stealth bomber is technologically, it does not improve the quality of life of anybody on the planet. HumVees are unable to grow food, or provide medical care. The weapons of war are without any actual value to us or to mankind. In fact, they kill and maim and destroy; that's their purpose."

    1) We do get protection out of it. Enough said we disagree lets move on.

    2) Heres the kicker.  Without this  massive defense spending we would have virtually NONE of the modern conveniences that we all hold dear.

    From your Velcro which holds your child's shoes on.

    The materials and manufacturing processes which makes your commute to work safer

    To the very method you are using to complain about defense spending (the internet).  

    Essentially all computer technology would not exist without massive military spending.

    So ya. Even besides the obvious protection aspect. We common folk have gotten AMAZING benefits from military spending.

    The return on investment for military spending is actually amazingly high.  

    There is room for improvement by removing sheer waste.

    But the large spending does have its value.

    If certain people succeed in drastically reducing defense spending all they will succeed at is removing the one method for funding scientific research the American people will support.

    And the benefits of this basic funding for scientific research far far far far far far far far far outweigh the waste in the system.

    •  This is so wrong on so many levels. (0+ / 0-)

      It implicitly assumes that military spending is the most efficient driver of technology.

      Essentially all computer technology would not exist without massive military spending.
      Pure poppycock. I remind you that the single most important piece of technology in the last century came from a civilian lab -- Bell labs. It was the transistor, upon which the IT revolution depends.
      1) We do get protection out of it. Enough said we disagree lets move on.
      Not so fast! Aircraft carriers are strictly offensive. They exist solely to project our offensive might.
      To the very method you are using to complain about defense spending (the internet).
      So now military spending gets credit for establishing the internet? That's as crazy as it gets. The fact is that the internet is an outgrowth of academic information sharing networks. It most certainly was not a military project.
      And the benefits of this basic funding for scientific research far far far far far far far far far outweigh the waste in the system.
      Repeating a word nine times is just juvenile. It wastes space that might be used to advance a genuine argument.

      Republicans proved in October that they are UNFIT TO GOVERN. Don't let the voter forget it. (-7.25, -6.21)

      by Tim DeLaney on Sat Nov 09, 2013 at 09:51:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My point proven by your responses. (0+ / 0-)

        A simple history of the internet I found when I just googled "who invented the internet"

        http://www.computerhope.com/...

        In short. DARPA plain and simple. The military.

        "So now military spending gets credit for establishing the internet? That's as crazy as it gets. The fact is that the internet is an outgrowth of academic information sharing networks. It most certainly was not a military project."
        Your response is just garbage.

        Yes many academic institutions were involved....that is how the military often does large chunks of its research.  But the "academic research" was 99.9% funding by the military.

        Without that funding and the direct support. The internet would stand no chance of existing.

        A simple history of the transistor I found when I just googled "who invented the transistor"
        http://www.pbs.org/...

        Is a little more vague. But even besides the DIRECT and indirect funding of Bell labs by the military industrial complex. The basic scientific research needed in electromagnetics  and materials processing stood NO chance of existing without the previous massive spending for military radars and nuclear weapons.

        Additionally up until the public commercialization of the PC there were essentially two applications  of computers. Telecommunications and military applications.  Without the military spending it would have been massively uneconomical to do any of the R&D.

        "Not so fast! Aircraft carriers are strictly offensive. They exist solely to project our offensive might"
        Do you have any idea of what amazing technologies are/have been developed from our aircraft carrier programs?

        No? I did not think so.

        The navy in particular has pumped billions into energy efficiency research. Drastically reducing the carbon footprint of the united states and the world.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        Which is just fucking cool from an electrical engineering perspective. The prospects from this research are unlimited. Simple tech that we have right now due to this effort. Wireless charging cell phones. Its a gimmic right now, but thats how all real tech starts.

        40 years from now when there are no more power lines, and the energy efficiency of the US energy grid will be vastly improved you will see the real benefits

        Some people are big fans of hydrogen based cars (I am not). Again that research is 100% funded by the military.

        http://www.businessweek.com/...

        Here is article talking about the need for massive scientific research and its effects on the US economy.

        The military has and will always be the main source of funding for these research labs.

        The majors ones left are

        http://en.wikipedia.org/...
        http://en.wikipedia.org/...
        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        ALL military.

        •  You are not being honest (0+ / 0-)

          The history of the internet (on Wikipedia) barely mentions any military involvement. It is plainly a gross exaggeration to suggest that they developed it. They were one of dozens that put together prototypical systems. The Wiki timeline would suggest that the military played only a peripheral role in establishing the internet.

          Similarly with the transistor. This quote:

          But even besides the DIRECT and indirect funding of Bell labs by the military industrial complex. The basic scientific research needed in electromagnetics  and materials processing stood NO chance of existing without the previous massive spending for military radars and nuclear weapons.
          is little more than fluff. The transistor was invented by civilians for civilian use.

          Why don't you get down to something concrete and relevant to the discussion? Can you tell me what percentage of our military budget is devoted to basic research? (Hint: This Wiki entry doesn't even mention DoD)

          I'm done with this conversation.

          Republicans proved in October that they are UNFIT TO GOVERN. Don't let the voter forget it. (-7.25, -6.21)

          by Tim DeLaney on Sat Nov 09, 2013 at 02:13:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Can you not read your own source? (0+ / 0-)

            "The US government spends more than other countries on military R&D, although the proportion has fallen from around 30% in the 1980s to under 20"

            and

            "Government funding for medical research amounts to approximately 36% in the U.S. The government funding proportion in certain industries is higher, and it dominates research in social science and humanities. Similarly, with some exceptions (e.g. biotechnology) government provides the bulk of the funds for basic scientific research."

            From your own source.

            From my own source

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

            " As Appelbaum notes, military R&D accounts for 55 percent of the federal government’s R&D spending. "

        •  You are dishonest (0+ / 0-)

          Your very first link does not contain the acronym DARPA, nor the word "military" nor the word "defense" (as in department of ...) In short, that link contains zero support for your position. The internet is NOT a military invention.

          The transistor was invented by civilians for civilian use. Crediting DoD is just fatuous.

          I'm done with you.

          Republicans proved in October that they are UNFIT TO GOVERN. Don't let the voter forget it. (-7.25, -6.21)

          by Tim DeLaney on Sat Nov 09, 2013 at 02:24:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  "ARPANET" (0+ / 0-)

            The very first paragraph

            guess what you have when you put a D in front of it

            DARPA......

            http://en.wikipedia.org/...

            "He also played an important role in the development of the ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet, at UCLA.[3]"

            "Initial creation

            The Internet as we know it today first started being developed in the late 1960's.

            In the summer of 1968, the Network Working Group (NWG) held its first meeting chaired by Elmer Shapiro with the Stanford Research Institute (SRI)"

            "SRI International is an independent, nonprofit research institute that conducts contract research and development for government agencies"

            http://www.sri.com/...

            "SRI bridges the critical gap between research universities or national laboratories and industry. We move R&D from the laboratory to the marketplace to create high value and real innovation. And the platforms we build today are designed to meet tomorrow’s needs. For example, an artificial intelligence project for DARPA led to the development of Siri for Apple’s iPhone."

            "Kleinrock claims to have committed the first illegal act on the internet having sent a request for return of his electric razor after a meeting in England in 1973. At the time, use of the internet for personal reasons was unlawful."

            IE the internet was ONLY for military use up until 1973

            "The transistor was invented by civilians for civilian use. Crediting DoD is just fatuous."

            lol stop being a child. The military does not do the research themselves ( for the most part). The majority of the research is done by DOD sponsored civilian organizations.  Such as MIT Lincoln labs.

            You not knowing this basic fact is case in point that you do not have an understanding about how this process works..

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