By Griffith Fuller Jr.
By Griffith Fuller Jr.
The price for patriotism is more than what Americans can realistically afford.
Americans, in general, feel that they are better than most other people in the world.
Therefore, they feel that they are entitled to earn, spend and consume more than the rest of the world as well.
As the recession grew to negatively impact more and more Americans, the federal government proposed cutting back on some programs in the federal budget.
However, there is one department that has seen a steady increase in its budget from year to year; it is the Department of Defense.
The military budget covers a variety of things, from paying salaries and providing training to purchasing arms and new equipment.
The budget is divided and distributed to the branches of the Air Force, Marines, Navy, Army and Coast Guard.
For the fiscal year 2009, the Department of Defense budget, according to its press release, came up to $515.4 billion.
Including other departments outside of the Defense budget that are Defense-related, (such as Department of Energy and Veterans Affairs) and war funding, the annual cost for Defense-related spending totals up to over $1 trillion.
Could the United States afford to throw away $1 trillion to the military?
It is not suggested that the United States do away with its military.
Thousands of servicemen being left unemployed is unacceptable, but so is spending $1 trillion on Defense funds when the nation is in a recession.
There are things that can be cut back from the military budget to bring down its cost.
Is it really necessary to have military bases stretched throughout the world in countries such as Japan, Spain, Australia and South Korea?
Is it necessary for the United States to have the presence of its armed forces on every continent on the planet?
The Bush administration advocated “safety first,” and thought that sufficient military power was a top-priority.
In March 2003, the Bush administration launched the nation into a war with Iraq under false pretenses.
It then managed to successfully bamboozle the American people into supporting its patriotism propaganda with bandwagon catch phrases such as “support the troops,” (which really means support the war).
Apparently there is a flaw in the human perception that men can evoke peace through means of violence and destruction.
Patriots would argue that the government must protect the country and if it requires significant financial backing, then it is necessary. This is the same logic of the Bush administration.
Perhaps the United States could more efficiently protect itself from outside enemies if it would stop going into other countries and blowing people up.
The war in Iraq as of April 2009 cost more than $610 billion.
Imagine what $610 billion could do for unemployment in the country right now. Imagine what $610 billion could do for education and health care programs.
The Bush administration launched the Department of Homeland Security in November 2002; its budget for 2009 is $52 billion. It has already come under criticism for misuse of funds.
The Department of Homeland Security inevitably made the country more unsafe and vulnerable.
The Obama administration will have to learn the power of surrendering. We can not fix our problems at home if we simultaneously pour money into violence abroad.
The priorities of the Department of Defense are highly questionable.
Perhaps if money within the budget was shifted from purchasing arms to recuperating injured soldiers (including the mentally unstable and post-traumatic stress disorder victims), or reducing the number of homeless veterans, the Defense’s efforts would be more productive.
Military funding should help aid the men and women that it broke by sending into combat in the first place.
Time magazine reports there were over 2,000 reported suicide attempts in 2007. CNN reports there is an average of five suicide attempts per day by U.S. soldiers.
As of April 1, there have been 4,263 American casualties in Iraq, 673 American casualties in Afghanistan, and about 99,000 Iraqi civilian causalities.
The juxtaposition of death-tolls is astonishing.
The U.S. military must change its outlook on the world and realize that American lives are no more valuable than the lives of any other human being on this planet.
The military works best as a humanitarian machine; it works destructively as a murdering machine.
Military patriots might argue that the United States has spent $20.9 billion in aid to help rebuild Iraq.
However, it is incredibly backwards to wage war on a country, contribute to its destruction, and try to modestly clean up after itself by throwing aid to it to take care of the problems.
Contrary to popular belief, money doesn’t solve every problem. And it certainly doesn’t grow on trees.
While other Americans throughout the country are nervous about the security of keeping their jobs, military positions seem to be protected.
The problem is that no one is brave enough to stand up to the Department of Defense and tell it that it is wrong.
Just because 9/11 happened doesn’t mean that all logic and rationality should be thrown out of the window.
From the perspective of Iraqi’s, how many 9/11s have the United States committed against them?
The military budget has become some sort of high-class welfare. Top generals and officials live comfortably at the expense of tax-payers.
The outrageous Defense budget increase is backed by bravado and ego.
Killing people is not a top priority of the country, and it shouldn’t cost $515.4 billion to support the Defense department’s political interest.