Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte brought their “Preserving America’s Strength” roadshow to Fayetteville on July 30. They sounded the alarm that congressional cuts to the defense dept. mandated to begin in January by the 2011 Budget Control Act, would weaken our defenses, cost North Carolina 12,000 jobs, and break faith with our military service members and their families. “A terrible, terrible calamity!” to quote John McCain.
As to the claim that defense dept. cuts would weaken our defenses, it could also be argued that our foreign invasions and occupations over the last decade have created many more enemies than friends. Donald Rumsfeld admitted as much: “We are making enemies faster than we can kill them.” This should be no surprise to anyone. Nothing would unite us cantankerous Americans more thoroughly than a foreign invasion. Conservatives, liberals, libertarians, independents and in betweens would stand shoulder to shoulder to expel any invader, and this is how the people of Afghanistan and Iraq have treated our military occupations of their lands, with tragic consequences for their families and ours. Bringing our troops home from foreign lands would actually make us safer, save lives, and save lots of money.
NC could actually lose 12,000 Pentagon funded jobs, but according to a UMass Amherst study, defense dept related jobs already come at a high cost to employment. Military spending is the least efficient jobs creator of any sector of our economy. One reason for this is that military spending is the most efficient profits generator. By its own admission, the Pentagon spends too much money to keep track of. Cost plus contracts are monitored to the extent that, while over charging on military contracts are sometimes met with heavy fines, the offending contractors are often awarded even more lucrative contracts.
Investments in education, health care, infrastructure repair, and renewable energy would all yield many more jobs than military spending. Even returning tax dollars to citizens as refunds would create more jobs than an equivalent amount spent on the military, as increased consumer spending would create greater demand in the civilian economy.
Furthermore, we have already broken faith with our military service men and women, by sending them overseas on the basis of false claims. We continue to break faith with these brave souls when we fail to fully address their injuries when they return from multiple deployments overseas. The fact that one service member and 17 veterans take their own lives every day signals, perhaps, our greatest national shame.
Let’s bring our troops home, provide the best possible health care and education for them and their families, and encourage our military contractors to seek peaceful, civilian applications for new products and services.
Finally, why do we have 1,000 military bases in 150 nations overseas? After all, the Americas are home to successive migrations of peoples, over millennia, not just from East and West, but from every corner of the world. For the USA to maintain its garrison of the planet, and claim for itself the privilege to police the world, sows the seeds of its own bankruptcy and destruction.
If we can survive this “Manifest Destiny” impulse to dictate to the world, then we may be able to recognize the Americas as a place that gave birth to a new spirit of humanity. As long as we continue to squander our resources in conducting wars and preparing for the next wars, we will never have the resources needed to meet our many challenges for survival.
But if we can agree to tune up our pruning hooks, and begin to trim this overgrown tree of militarism, there is still hope for us.
John Heuer, Director,
NC Peace Action
Eisenhower Chapter, Veterans For Peace