Friday, March 14, 2008


I received an email this morning from the Mid-Missouri Peaceworks that expressed sentiments I have felt and written about for a long time. The concision of this little blurb makes it worth repeating here, so I decided to copy it then comment:

“. . . we need to do more than just get U.S. combat troops out of the "theater of operations." Rather, we need to challenge the fact that our nation, with 4.5% of the world's people spends fully half of the planet's annual military expenditures. We need to question the network of bases in 130 nations around the world.

We need to understand and communicate the motivations behind this vast expenditure. Geopolitical and economic imperatives of U.S. and western-based trans-national corporations play roles that are poorly understood by many of our fellow citizens, and, for some reason, these issues never seem to come up in the Presidential debates. Geopolitics and the control of resources, markets or cheap labor is rarely discussed. Likewise, the profits of military contractors.

We need at this point to build a strong, independent grassroots movement to challenge the largely bipartisan consensus that the U.S. should fill the role of dominant global power. We need to challenge the politicians of both major parties who want a larger, stronger U.S. military. We in the peace movement need to be advocating a major reappraisal of the role of our military. We need to speak truth to power. We need to utter what the liberals have allowed to be labeled "heresy." That is the notion that perhaps an 80% cut in the U.S. military budget is in order. We need to point out that if we were spending only 20% of our current military budget we would still have the most powerful, capable military establishment on the planet. And, we would have hundreds of billions to invest each year in sustainable development to create real security. We could even take the steps needed to end our oil addiction and address global climate change by investing in energy efficiency and renewables.”

America spends more on its so-called defense budget than all the rest of the top ten spenders combined. The assertion that we can’t afford a single payer national health care system is absurd except that the military/industrial complex won’t allow it. I refuse to accept the term ‘defense budget’ because it isn’t about defense at all. It is about dominance and offense.

There is no doubt that a reversal in our national spending priorities would create a temporarily chaotic economic situation, but the long term gains would so outweigh the short term losses as to make those losses laughable.

Our military budget could be much more wisely centered around the maintenance of highly trained personnel with small weaponry and equipment based on protection from and prevention of terrorism than the world-dominance oriented present system of tactical nuclear weaponry and large bases around the world. That old system is based on the threat of nation-states seeking to dominate the world. At this point we are the only nation showing interest in that concept. Withdrawal from the numerous bases we maintain as a means of exercising political control would cut our military costs considerably while freeing up personnel for assignment in hotspots like Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Changing our national priorities from attempting to create and maintain American hegemony to ensuring that our citizens and those of the world are free from worry about health care, food and shelter would go a long way toward defusing the enmity our military stance creates daily. We are seen as a military power which is hungry for resources and economic control. We could be seen as a rich neighbor willing to apply its resources to assist in ensuring the well-being of the world’s peoples.

Our wealth is not a deterrent to friendship. Hoarding is. Our strength is not a generator of enmity, our misuse of it is. Our freedom is not a reason to attack us. Our enslavement of others is no matter whether it is accomplished with whips and chains or genetically engineered seed.

The money we spend on our paranoid attempts at world management through military adventures and economic control is a slap in the face of the people around the world who must scrape for every scrap they put on the table. The money we could spend on the development of sustainable sources of energy, on the health and well-being of the people of the world, on education, and on the growth, processing and delivery of affordable food to a hungry world would earn us not enmity but friendship and respect.

For years our nation has operated only on the principle that although we have plenty, we must have more. In fact, we must have it all.

It is time that we as a nation recognized that as citizens of the world, we cannot be allowed to have more than our share. It is also time that, as citizens of the planet, we recognize our responsibility to live in such a way that the planet can maintain its health and sustain our presence indefinitely.

In both cases, it is imperative that we reach these conclusions or inevitably the day will come when we will be forced from our position on the top of the chain and become instead the victims of first the world’s rejection of our position as a nation and finally the planet’s loss of the means for man’s survival.

We must think peaceably. We must think globally. We must think sensibly about our role in all aspects of the health of our world. Or . . . we must perish. It seems a simple choice to me.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

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