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by Arianna Huffington
See if you can identify the bleeding heart liberal who said this:
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
Noam Chomsky? Michael Moore? Bernie Sanders?
Nope, it was that unrepentant lefty, five-star general Dwight Eisenhower, in 1953, at a time when the economy was booming and unemployment was 2.7 percent.
Yet today, while America's economy sputters down the road to recovery and the middle class struggles to make ends meet -- with over 26 million people unemployed or underemployed and record numbers of homes being lost to foreclosure -- the "guns vs. butter" argument isn't even part of the national debate. Of course, today, the argument might be more accurately framed as "ICBM nukes and Predator drones vs. jobs, decent schools, and fixing the gaping holes in our social safety net."
We hear endless talk in Washington about belt-tightening and deficit reduction, but hardly a word about whether the
Indeed, during his State of the Union speech in January, President Obama proposed freezing all discretionary government spending for three years -- but exempted military spending, even though the defense budget has ballooned over the past 10 years. According to defense analyst Lawrence Korb, the baseline defense budget has increased by 50 percent since 2000. Over that same period, non-defense discretionary spending increased less than half that much.
In fact, the president is on track to spend more on defense, in real dollars, than any other president has in one term of office since WWII.
This is not about ignoring the threats to our national security. And it's certainly not about pacifism. To quote the president's 2002 speech: "I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war." Iraq was never about making us safer. And the original rationale for going to war in Afghanistan -- taking on al-Qaida -- has been accomplished, with less than 100 members of the terrorist group still there.
It's like a very bad joke: "The good news is the Obama administration is ramping up a multi-billion program that will create a host of new jobs. The bad news is you have to move to Kandahar to apply."
At a time when so many hardworking middle class families are reeling from the economic crisis -- and our country is facing the harsh one-two punch of more people in need at the exact moment social services are being slashed to the bone -- that seems like the most perverted of priorities.
"Civilizations," argued historian Arnold Toyenbee, "die from suicide, not by murder." That is, our future is dependent on the choices we make and the things we decide to value.
According to the
Again, we are not talking about lessening America's national security. We are talking about eliminating or cutting back outdated and redundant military defense programs.
Barney Frank points to pricey relics of the Cold War such as the F-22 fighter, the Osprey tiltrotor transport, and missile defense programs in Eastern Europe as examples of wasted resources. He also suggests doing away with one prong of America's hugely expensive nuclear triad -- bombers, submarines, and intercontinental ballistic missiles -- designed to annihilate a Soviet empire that no longer exists.
Increased military spending has been a hallmark of nations in decline since the fall of the Roman Empire -- including the Soviets trying to match America nuclear warhead for nuclear warhead and North Korea joining the nuclear club while its people starve. If we don't come to our senses and get our deeply misguided priorities back in order, America engaging in nation building wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could easily join that ignominious list. A superpower turned Third World nation -- dead from our own hand.
Available at Amazon.com:
The Politics of Happiness: What Government Can Learn from the New Research on Well-Being
Bush on the Home Front: Domestic Policy Triumphs and Setbacks
The Political Fix: Changing the Game of American Democracy, from the Grassroots to the White House
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