March 6, 2014
With Russia having invaded and now occupying the very small nation of Crimea, a nation most Americans have never heard of, in response to the successful revolution in neighboring Ukraine, U.S. war hawks are crying out for immediate action by President Obama. It is these very same war hawks that rushed this nation into two unnecessary and unfunded wars with Iraq and Afghanistan, both the two longest conflicts in our history, in response to the horrific attack of September 11th by Osama bin Laden while acting on behalf of nether nation. The really ironic thing is that those crying out the loudest are those that never fought in battle. Never known the true horrors of war. Most likely, very few of their children or grandchildren, if any serve proudly in uniform as well.
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, who definitely knows the horrors of war, has been very outspoken about the lack of an immediate response by this nation, calling the Obama administration foreign policy “feckless” (yeah, I had to look it up too) and stating that no one respects America’s military power any longer. If I understand one of the most senior members of the Republican Party right, it is President Obama to blame for Russia’s invasion of Crimea. I guess ending the two longest wars in our history shows too much weakness.
Missing eligibility for the Vietnam draft by only a year or two (I did enlist in the Navy six months after the war “officially” ended), I grew up watching Walter Cronkite report on both the war and the anti-war protests. When you throw in the Civil Rights and women’s liberation movements, the ‘60s were America’s second revolution. After Vietnam, I never imagined this country ever going to war again. However, all those peace-loving hippies turned out to be just as sadistic as their parents were. With marijuana becoming more and more legal throughout the land, maybe these old stoners getting stoned once again, these old hippies will give war a much more serious thought.
During the past thirty years, America has been involved in some sort of military encounter in twenty-three of them. This is astonishing. The Iraq War, when it “officially” ended for America was this nation’s longest, has turned in a catastrophe for the Iraqi people. Every day, it seems there is another car bombing or three resulting in the deaths of several dozen innocent people. The Afghan War, now the nation’s longest, is to end for America at the end of this year, although it was recently announced that this nation will have troops stationed in that war-torn nation for another decade. And, does anyone seriously believe that nation will not erupt into total chaos such as that in neighboring Iraq once the majority of American troops leave?
Since September 11, 2001, our government has built up such a top-secret network of intelligence agencies that no one knows how much it cost, how many it employs or how many agencies it runs. It has been reported that the Defense Department has built the equivalency of three new Pentagons throughout the Washington, D.C. area over the past decade. The defense budget itself has nearly doubled since 2000, yet where has all this spending gotten us? As a nation, we live in fear of another September 11th attack; all the while our country is falling apart at the seams, be it our aging and rapidly decaying infrastructure system, crumbling inner cities that have become battlegrounds, failing public school system and insolvent Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs among other concerns.
With an annual defense budget of nearly $900 billion, we spend nearly as much on our military as the rest of the world combined. When combined with our intelligence agencies, we spend nearly $1.5 trillion on defense and intelligence related expenditures every year. Moreover, this does not include America’s newly created ultra secret intelligence budget. America is bankrupting itself and it is not from our spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It is from our imperialistic attitude and our attempt to dominate the world we call planet Earth. We still have 40,000 troops stationed along the 38th parallel separating North and South Korea, sixty years after the Korean War ended. We have numerous military bases located throughout Europe and around the world, seventy years after World War II end. Why?
In a rather sad, ironic twist, America is by far the world’s largest arms dealer, again selling nearly as many armaments as the rest of the world combined. Thus, not only are we bankrupting ourselves with our military spending, but we are also heavily arming the rest of the world. One must remember that America armed Saddam Hussein when he was at war with Iran in the 1980s and we armed bin Laden when he fought the Russians in Afghanistan, also during the ‘80s. America also has a very long, extensive history of arming and supporting malevolence dictators and lunatics, in the name of what is best for this country, not necessarily what is best for the rest of the world.
During the past decade, I always like to quote former president and five-star general Dwight Eisenhower, who in his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation warned the country to beware of the mighty military-industrial complex. President Eisenhower stated “…we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Coming from a five-star general, America should have listened. War is big business and the only way the military-industrial complex stays in business and remains profitable is by this nation engaging in war.
Just last week, the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch ran an editorial cartoon by Dana Summers that brought a smile to my face. However, it was not because of the intended joke, but due to the perceived opinion by many highly educated political pundits regarding our nation’s military strength. Summers’ cartoon showed a table of people discussing all the professed threats to this nation by third-rate military powers such as Iran and North Korea, ending with one man asking, “What should we do?” Summers intended joke showed President Obama answering, “Shrink the military!”
President Obama recent announced that he wants to reduce only the number of troops, all the while our defense budget will increase over the next five years. Having ended, or ending the two longest wars in our history, it is asinine to think we need to keep our military troop levels and defense spending at wartime levels. The military rationale is this nation must be prepared to fight not one, but two concurrent wars at all times. This is ludicrous. America just might be the most warmongering nation in the history of planet Earth.
This madness must stop!
Steven H. Spring