"The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school for more than 30 cities, …two finely equipped hospitals, or 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter with a half million barrels of wheat. We pay for a new destroyer with new homes that could have housed 8,000 people…Under a cloud of threatening war it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”- President Dwight D. Eisenhower in an April, 1953 address
In August, 2002, former Defense Analyst Chuck Spinney – appearing on a Bill Moyer ‘NOW’ (PBS) segment- examined how the Pentagon had somehow ‘misplaced’ (couldn’t account for) $1.2 trillion of taxpayer money. He noted that this reckless, careless bookkeeping miscue disclosed the U.S. was no longer a democracy or even a Republic, since a key branch of gov’t had become totally unaccountable.
Three years later, after the Bushies had ramped up defense spending to dramatic new heights, what amounted to 2.4% of GDP as opposed to 1.2%, Spinney predicted it would incept a “war on Social Security and Medicare”. He predicted the total costs of military spending, including in Iraq, and Afghanistan and a de facto perpetual ‘war on terror’ (as well as a burgeoning national security state) would become so great that the major social programs would be slashed to pay for the deficits engendered. How large is the military money pit? What sort of monster must it ‘feed’?
The United States currently maintains 702 military 'installations' in 63 foreign countries (it has 4,471 bases altogether), according to the Defense Department's annual budget statement. These figures don't include bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. We also spend more on military weapons than the next 25 nations combined. No wonder seniors’ and disabled vets are now on the chopping block – despite what Neoliberal mouthpieces like Jonathan Alter and David Axelrod bloviated night before last (on ‘All In with Chris Hayes’ and on Rachel Maddow). Maddow, give her credit and kudos, did give Axelrod fits in his defense of the Chained CPI, noting a better path is simply to raise the payroll taxes threshold and that S.S. didn’t contribute to the deficit – good for her!.
One more thing, Lawrence O'Donnell was totally, absolutely wrong in the last segment of his show last night, trying to depict one of Social Security's founders - Frances Perkins - as favoring any COLA cuts now via the Chained CPI. Neither she nor FDR would be in favor of such an atrocity if they knew how much of our budget we were squandering on military bullshit, wars of choice and national security! So Lawrence, you need to consult more with your colleague Rachel on this! (And NO! For the nth time, I do not believe Obama is playing 'three dimensional chess" with the Repukes via his budget!)
With the planned cuts to Social Security, revealed Wednesday in Obama’s budget, we see that at the very least Spinney’s predictions have partially materialized. (They are merely in the ‘proposal’ phase so far, not let voted on by either Senate or House, and fortunately, it appears the Repukes will never accept it anyway – so seniors and the Left live to fight another day)
Media expert Jeff Cohen has shown this is not merely a coincidence: the U.S. having metastasized into the most extensive military empire the world has ever known- needs ever more money, from whatever sources, to keep its monstrosity going. As Cohen observed in a recent smirkingchimp.com blog:
"Today there’s an elephant in the room: a huge, yet ignored, issue that largely explains why Social Security is now on the chopping block. And why other industrialized countries have free college education and universal healthcare, but we don’t. It’s arguably our country’s biggest problem – a problem that Martin Luther King Jr. focused on before he was assassinated 45 years ago, and has only worsened since then (which was the height of the Vietnam War).
That problem is U.S. militarism and perpetual war."
While Cohen has emphasized the “perpetual war” meme (born after 9/11) he’s not the first to point it out. Gore Vidal, for example, belabored the way dozens of minor conflicts, interventions since WWII have weakened the
– especially domestically- in his book ‘Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace- How We Got to Be So Hated’. See, e.g. http://www.meaus.com/perpetual-war-gore-vidal.htm U.S.
Though the willfully naïve “consumer” mutation of the citizen and paper patriots will dismiss it as “anti-American” it ought to be required reading for the real citizen and REAL patriot, who isn’t so dumb or gutless as to ape what too many Germans did in the 1930s, parroting: “my country, right or wrong”. The Real Patriot and citizen never agrees with his country when he sees it’s going wrong.
The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was such a man, as Cohen notes. In 1967, King called the
“the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” – and said, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” United States
We may have well passed that point, probably soon after the Bushies adopted the Nazi “Blitzkrieg” template of “pre-emptive war” to invade Iraq ten years ago.
Sadly, while real journalists – night after night – helped expose the waste and destruction of the Vietnam War, that has not been the case with the more recent conflicts. The Pentagon has basically kept the ‘lid on’ by conceiving of the “embedded journalist”. This is the paper copy of the real one, but gutted by virtue of having to follow a set of phony rules as he gets to ride along with the troops. Rather than showing the realities of the Iraq and Afghan conflicts, these mock journalists helped to fabricate an unreality which explains the current disconnect between a majority of Americans and the military. Since most Americans never really see what’s going on – except what the Pentagon’s manipulators want them to see- and have no skin in the game (either with a son or daughter over there, or paying taxes to support the conflicts waged) they really don’t give a damn.
As Cohen observes:
“I know something about mainstream journalists being silenced for questioning bipartisan military adventures because I worked with Phil Donahue at MSNBC in 2002/03 when Bush was revving up the
invasion with the support of Democratic leaders like Joe Biden, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid. That’s when MSNBC terminated us for the crime of JWI. Not DWI, but JWI – Journalism during Wartime while Independent. JWI may be a crime in mainstream media, but it’s exactly the kind of unauthorized, unofficial coverage you get from quality independent media today and from un-embedded journalists like Jeremy Scahill, Dahr Jamail and Glenn Greenwald.” Iraq
Of course, the images night after night of the carnage and loss in ‘Nam helped to fuel the push to end that conflict. Little wonder that current conflicts like Afghanistan are still going on, given how few reality-based (as opposed to confected) images, Americans have been exposed to. With its “embedded” (read: compromised) journalists the Pentagon now stage manages everything as a rule, only letting American viewers' eyes see what they want them to. But if Americans don’t see all or most of the the images, such as innocent villagers being blown to bits by rockets, off-target bombs or drone attacks, how can they know what they are opposing, if they opt to oppose that conflict at all?
And when a source like Bradley Manning comes out of ‘left field’ to help us see what’s going on, via the Wikileaks, he’s mercilessly persecuted, treated like a 3rd rate traitor. Meanwhile, Nazi-level arch war criminals like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Co. (a few still wanted in European nations, like Italy) are allowed to run free. It’s little wonder this nation is now approaching the shitpile-dumpster of history and 61% in a recent ABC-WSJ poll believe the country is “on the wrong track”.
As Cohen notes at the end of his blog piece:
“What our mainstream media so obediently call the “War on Terror” is experienced in other countries as a U.S. war OF terror – kidnappings, night raids, torture, drone strikes, killing and maiming of innocent civilians – that creates new enemies for our country. Interestingly, you can easily find that reality in mainstream media of allied countries in Europe, but not in the mainstream media of our country. Needless to say, it’s our country that’s waging this global perpetual war.
In a democracy, war must be subjected to questioning and debate”