by Paul Shannon
Big Campaign contributions. 700 lobbyists. Militaristic think tanks. Government advisory boards. Hiring 1700 former Pentagon officials and stacking the government with their own people. These military contractors have numerous ways to determine Pentagon budgets, shape our foreign policy, create war fever, and pick our friends and enemies. Clearly, there are no winners in the terrible war in Ukraine — except one: U.S. and British military contractors who are going to have to hire a bunch of strong men and women just to carry all their increased profits all the way to the bank.
The result is $778,000,000,000. That’s $778 billion dollars. Democrats and Republicans in Congress just passed the most bloated military budget ever. That’s also $778 billion worth of new fossil fuel emissions to be created by the single biggest single source of carbon pollution on earth: the U.S. war machine.
Since 2001 these war budgets have totaled 14.6 trillion. That’s $14,600,000,000,000. Of that, $6 trillion went to military contractors. Those trillions have funded wars, supported occupations, destroyed ecosystems, poisoned ground water, tortured legions and inflicted suffering on a scale hard to imagine. But the devastation of this war machine doesn’t end abroad. It comes home in the form of militarized police departments, surveillance of indigenous water protectors, the grooming and recruitment of our children into a culture of war and violence, and of course the pain and suicides of so many soldiers.
When 55% of our discretionary budget gets spent on war and military contracts, there is not enough left to provide for affordable housing, public transportation, raising up low-income people, student debt relief, pre-school education, green jobs and so many other things we need to truly thrive.
And yet, while we spent trillions chasing demons abroad and “bad hombres” at our borders, a tiny virus was able to bring us to our knees in a way no enemy ever could: 900,000 dead; millions of wrecked lives; a mental health catastrophe. Our million dollar Raytheon missiles could not shoot the virus down. Our billion dollar General Dynamics battleships could not sink it. Our most sophisticated Boeing jets could not bomb it to pieces – the way they do to the homes and bodies of people abroad.
Our weapons, our armies, our adoration of the military may protect us from phantoms, but they are useless in defending us against the actual threats to our national security: pandemics, an approaching climate catastrophe, the growing danger of nuclear war, and of course the racial, class and political divisions that are tearing us apart. Here the solutions are an effective and well-funded public health system, a green new deal, the abolition of nuclear weapons, and a commitment to building a society and a world in which there is a place of respect for all of us.
This tax day we are calling on you to organize an action in your community that targets the war machine and promotes investment in a peace economy. We are demanding that war companies convert to useful production and we demand a cut in the Pentagon budget for the sake of people, planet, peace and a future.
To join the Boston event, see details here.
— Paul Shannon coordinates the Raytheon Antiwar Campaign and is a MAPA board member.