Warfare and Welfare
Our troops all over the world act courageously for the most part under the worst conditions imaginable. Their loyalty and dedication isn’t in question. The circumstances that cause them to be deployed all over the world in the first place are what is reasonable to question.
It isn’t unpatriotic at all to assure that the military missions are sound and are actually defending the U.S. from foreign attack. In fact, it is a constitutional responsibility to assure that only the U.S. Congress declares war. Has the U.S. strayed from this responsibility? Can it be talked about?
Although it is difficult to write about this subject because of all the emotions surrounding “support the troops,” it seems reasonable at this time in history to start to ask some important and tough questions. Isn’t it at least reasonable to consider earlier warnings from previous U.S. leaders?
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. president from 1953 to 1961, warned the U.S. about his concerns with the “military-industrial complex.” His final address to the nation in 1961 was specific and to the point. Eisenhower’s address is quoted in Wikipedia:
“On January 17, 1961, Eisenhower gave his final televised Address to the Nation from the Oval Office. In his farewell speech to the nation, Eisenhower raised the issue of the Cold War and role of the U.S. armed forces. He described the Cold War saying, "We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose and insidious in method..." and warned about what he saw as unjustified government spending proposals and continued with a warning that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." Though he said that "we recognize the imperative need for this development," he cautioned that "the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist... Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” (Emphasis mine)
Another U.S. General, General Smedley Butler, USMC with 2 Congressional Medals of Honor, gave a similar warning decades earlier in 1935. He wrote a book titled “War is a Racket” which is quite clear about the message he wished to convey to the public. Was he justified in his observation?
If indeed “war is a racket,” could war also be considered a form of welfare to the defense industry? Could it be that “warfare is welfare”…to the military-industrial complex? The cost in lives is great.
The cost in $$ is also immense. An almost trillion dollar war budget is roughly 1/2 the current U.S. Revenues - or 2/3s the U.S. deficit. Why is the military budget “off the table” for deficit reduction?
In any serious budget cutting effort it first becomes very useful to identify what the “big ticket” expenses are…nothing gets left off the table. In the case of the U.S. government, the “big ticket” items are health & human services (Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security), Military and the interest on the U.S. Debt. All of these items deserve to be talked about and reviewed by all in a democracy.
Some politicians must consider health and human services as “welfare” because of their attacks against the “safety nets” for people who truly “fall between the cracks” through no fault of their own.
Why can’t the possible U.S. military “welfare” be thoroughly reviewed by responsible U.S. citizens?
Alert and knowledgeable citizens can make correct decisions. The question is will we do that? Now?