“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 are 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…This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
-President Dwight Eisenhower
The public assumes that the US withdrawal from Iraq would reduce defense spending. The New York Times reported that the proposed US Defense Department 2009 budget “when adjusted for inflation, will have reached its highest level since World War II.” Although the Federal Government committed over $700 billion to stabilize the financial markets, it will also spend $711 billion on defense. Is it likely that we’ll see significant reductions in military spending? Probably not. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan has taken its toll on military equipment and it needs to be replaced. Those who serve in the military need better pay and health care. The development of new and advanced weapons systems will require significant investments. We will need to develop a full spectrum military. We will also see military spending continue to rapidly increase in most countries. The world is still too dangerous.
The next President of the United States will have to make either unpopular reductions in defense department spending or continue the explosive growth of the federal deficit. How will he fund Medicare which is expected to go broke in 2018? How will the federal government, which owes foreign investors over ten trillion dollars, reduce our indebtedness?
The President must also meet the demands of reducing poverty, disease, and hunger. He must recommit to making substantial investments to address our domestic needs. He must also maintain sustainable funding for our military needs. Will the next administration want the US to continue to be a military, financial, and cultural superpower? Do we want to? Can we afford it?
As a superpower nation, we are clearly being reminded of the moral requirement to look beyond our military needs.
- Each year, more than 8 million people around the world die because they are too poor to stay alive.
- Over 1 billion people—1 in 6 people around the world—live in extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1 a day.
- More than 800 million go hungry each day.
- Over 100 million primary school-age children cannot go to school.
Based on definitions established by the World Bank, nearly 3 billion people-half of the world’s population-are considered poor. In his recent address at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Pope Benedict XVI blamed food shortages on “feverish speculation” that drives up prices, along with “corruption in public life or growing investments in weapons and sophisticated military technologies to the detriment of people’s primary needs.”
“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
-James Madison, Political Observations, 1795
- Global Poverty by NetAid
- Data on Poverty and Inequalityby the World Bank
- Barron’s : “Defense Stocks Can Benefit Even Under Obama”
- Pope: Military spending creates food shortages
- Proposed Military Spending Is Highest Since WWII
- Goodbye to Defense’s Gilded Age?
- Analysis: U.S. defense spending problem
- Defense Spending Rises Above Financial Turmoil
- U.S. Deficit to Reach Record $490 Billion in 2009
- World Military Spending by Global Issues
- Crisis could crimp defense spending, now at World War II levels
- Medicare Will Go Broke By 2018, Trustees Report
- World Wide military Expenditures by Global Security
- Defense Spending and Military Budgets by Borgen Project
- Defense Spending by The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation