“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” — President Dwight Eisenhower, Farewell Address (1961)
Eisenhower, a five-star general in the U.S. Army who led Allied forces in Europe during World War II, could’ve picked any topic he wanted when he gave his farewell address to the American people. He chose to talk about what he viewed as unjustified government spending.
Although it was the height of the Cold War and Ike called communism a “hostile ideology,” he knew a large segment of military spending was wasteful or unneeded. Military commanders and weapons manufacturers love feeding at the public trough, and their appetites are never satisfied.
In the 48 years since his remarks, alas, not much has changed.
More than half of all federal tax dollars are spent to pay for past and current military operations, according to the latest version of the annual pie chart compiled by The War Resisters League. A whopping 54 percent of tax revenues will be spent on that purpose this year.
This includes $200 billion for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; a figure that some economists say will reach $1 trillion before they’re completed.
As the League and the Media Mouse political blog recently noted, the United States accounts for 47 percent of the world’s total military spending. Our nation spends more than the next 15 nations combined, and 12 of those nations are U.S. allies
Many people who attended Wednesday’s “Tea Party” at Fountain Square either defended military expenditures or didn’t mention it at all while blasting out-of-control government spending, yet it’s the largest item.
Do we need this level of armaments? Are we any safer, especially against rogue nations or groups who attain nuclear weapons? When is it enough?