Monday, November 03, 2008

Ain't it about time to start beating swords into plowshares…

posted by Bill Arnett @ 12:24 PM Permalink

…and, in the process, start fulfilling the promise of man?

I am prompted to ask this question out of love for my country and love for the ideas of men who were, and remain, far more advanced thinkers than me. Descartes' famous, "Cogito, ergo sum" (English: "I think, therefore I am")" dovetails nicely with, "Homo sapiens (man, the thinker)," and Homo sapiens sapiens (Man, the thinker about thinking.)," (under various interpretations), but I like just as well the bastardization of Descartes' maxim, "Cogito, cogito, ergo cogito sum," which I have heard translated colloquially as, "I think I think, therefore I think I am." All of which are probably totally inaccurate uses of Latin insofar as usage, translation, and meaning.

But then I read an article such as this one from the New York Times titled, "Pentagon Expects Cuts in Military Spending" and I am shocked that people would be concerned about reductions in spending aimed at killing people without regard to the horrible consequences which we find ourselves enduring as a direct result of planning to kill instead of planning to uplift society, help people get educated, fed, provided with medical care, and building the infrastructure necessary to support those human endeavors. And it again shocks and offends me that we would rather devise ways to kill than to help our fellow man

From the article:
After years of unfettered growth in military budgets, Defense Department planners, top commanders and weapons manufacturers now say they are almost certain that the financial meltdown will have a serious impact on future Pentagon spending.

Across the military services, deep apprehension has led to closed-door meetings and detailed calculations in anticipation of potential cuts. Civilian and military budget planners concede that they are already analyzing worst-case contingency spending plans that would freeze or slash their overall budgets.

The obvious targets for savings would be expensive new arms programs, which have racked up cost overruns of at least $300 billion for the top 75 weapons systems, according to the Government Accountability Office. Congressional budget experts say likely targets for reductions are the Army’s plans for fielding advanced combat systems, the Air Force’s Joint Strike Fighter, the Navy’s new destroyer and the ground-based missile defense system.

Even before the crisis on Wall Street, senior Pentagon officials were anticipating little appetite for growth in military spending after seven years of war. But the question of how to pay for national security now looms as a significant challenge for the next president, at a time when the Pentagon’s annual base budget for standard operations has reached more than $500 billion, the highest level since World War II when adjusted for inflation.
I know that this is going to sound naive and a bit polly-annish, but wouldn't you think that if we stopped spending trillions of dollars and stopped devoting the very brightest and intelligent people ever known to planning ever bigger and more spectacular ways to kill people and, instead, directed all that money and all those brilliant minds to devising and building alternative energy sources, drought resistant crops, better methods of farming and feeding the people of the world, ending the ravages of pollution and stopping global warning that maybe, just maybe, others might follow in our footsteps to collectively form a better world rather than trying to destroy the planet on which we live?

[…]Some critics, citing the increase in military spending since Sept. 11, 2001, say it would be much easier to cut military spending than programs like Social Security and Medicare at a time when most people’s retirement savings are dwindling because of the financial crisis. Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has raised the idea of reducing military spending by one-quarter.

At the Pentagon, senior officials have taken up the mission of urging sustained military spending. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has asked Congress and the nation to pledge at least 4 percent of the gross domestic product to the military. And Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has warned against repeating historic trends, in which the nation cut money for the armed services after a period of warfare.

“We basically gutted our military after World War I, after World War II, in certain ways after Korea, certainly after Vietnam and after the end of the cold war,” Mr. Gates said. “Experience is the ability to recognize a mistake when you make it again.”
Just how many wars do we need fight, how many people need we kill, how much of our planet need we destroy before we realize that we are repeating the past in an endless Mobious strip, and that each time we engage in war instead of peace we show that we are doomed to repeat the past even though we know the history of warfare and the misery it inflicts on all of society.

[…]“Serious savings could be had by reducing force structure and limiting modernization,” said Professor Hendrickson, who posted a “blogbook” on the financial crisis at “Though American power has weakened on every count, there is no reconsideration of objectives. Defining a coherent philosophy in foreign affairs and defense strategy that is respectful of limits is vital.”

Other analysts, like Loren B. Thompson of the Lexington Institute, a policy research center, say that weapons spending will be fiercely defended by many in Congress and their allies in the weapons industry as a way to stimulate the economy. Buying new armaments and repairing worn-out weapons, Mr. Thompson said, protects jobs and corporate profits, and therefore benefits the economy over all.
America spends more money on "defense" than all the other industrialized nations on the face of the earth COMBINED, yet other than the occasional terrorist attack, something for which the Pentagon is not prepared nor trained to deal with, it is crystal clear that we wish to maintain these nuclear weapons and such to swat flies and remain able to wreak mass destruction on anyone we fancy doesn't like us or that will not kowtow to our will and American "superiority."

It's all BS, and we cannot even claim that we were not warned by General and former President Dwight D. Eisenhower when, in his farewell address as president stated with clarity that, "… we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex... Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

We have lost sight of this noble goal. America now builds and plans for Armageddon-type warfare and not, "…the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

So that security and liberty may prosper together. No longer. The war-mongers and fear-mongers that have co-opted our country to the detriment of the entire world and the particular shame of the United States of America and the ideals it has sacrificed in the name of what…war?

But this is just my opinion and I could be wrong.

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At 8:20 PM, Blogger The Sailor said...

Great post!

Even Eisenhower warned us about the military industrial complex.

I've always had the theory that defense spending is wasted money, in an economics sense, you spend all the labor and materials to make the weapons, and if you don't use them it's wasted, if you do use them it's destroyed.

Like I said, that's just the econ side.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger Bill Arnett said...

It just boggles my mind that, in this day and age, we continue our efforts to kill unabated, while our fellow man suffers horribly from diseases we could have conquered, starving from the lack of crops we could have grown, and literally choking the entire planet and its citizens from the pollution we could so easily reduce or eliminate altogether.

Swords into plowshares. Wouldn't that be a beautiful thang?


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