Safety or Domination: What is Our Military Budget For?

The US military is a subject Americans love to talk about, unfortunately it isn’t a subject that we like to think about.  Fortunately, since our military is a volunteer one that is only a problem for the less than 1% of Americans in the military, or the people in the 130 or so nations with US military bases on their soil.  The average American citizen can remain blissfully thoughtless as to what our military does, well at least until they have to pay for the approximately $700 billion/year military budget plus the $3.7 trillion spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (so far…).  However, it is an issue that demands critical thought, because it is an issue with deep moral ramifications for our country.  It is a question of whether we view our military as a force to protect us from harm or one to enforce our will on nations and dominate their peoples.

The United States is by far the most prolific military spender, outspending more than the next 13 countries with the highest military budgets in the world.  In terms of total military spending worldwide the US accounts for 41% of the total figure.  Yet some people do not seem to believe that we are spending enough on our military.  In regards to the automatic defense cuts which would go into place if congress were unable to compromise on a budget last year, vice presidential candidate and supporter of said automatic cuts Paul Ryan said the following in his recent debate with Vice President Biden,

“We should not be imposing these devastating defense cuts … When we show that we’re cutting down on defense, it makes us more weak. It projects weakness. And when we look weak, our adversaries are much more willing to test us.”

The Romney / Ryan campaign has instead proposed increasing the already bloated military budget by a projected $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years by enforcing a minimum of a base defense budget (note: this does not include war spending) equal to 4% of the US GDP.

Obviously, increasing this budget would require cuts from other programs or increased taxes.  While the classic “butter vs. bullet” debate surrounding the issue of cutting spending for social programs and public goods (ie. roads, schools, power plants, etc.) to pay for military spending is debate worth having, there is a question which is almost always ignored in the mainstream media debate.  That is, “why do we have a military anyway”?

If the military is simply an organization for the defense of the American people, it is far more than we need, even to simply scare off any thought of aggression against us.  The 5,000 nuclear warheads our military has at its disposal, enough to make the planet uninhabitable for humanity, should be far more threatening to any attacker than a massive complex of worldwide US military bases . It is also deployed in such a manner worldwide that is too costly and provokes a great deal of anger among the populations of our allies and our occupied territories.  The only logical conclusion is that the military is not being deployed simply for our defense, but for a more sinister purpose, as a means of subjugating foreign populations and threatening nations to comply with our will.

What does a military memorial like this one really stand for? (Credit: Melissa McDermott)

This isn’t to suggest that those who are serving in the military are necessarily complicit in this.  Most of the people serving in the military do so to acquire a college education or to serve the stated purpose of our military, to serve the American people.  However, those in charge of our military policy feel that America has an implicit right to not only place our security above that of others, but our interests as well.  People, particularly soldiers and veterans, need to speak out against this domineering use of our military.  Otherwise when memorials like the one on UCF’s memory mall taint the honor of those who have served to defend us, by standing not just for our freedom, but for the freedom we deny others.

Ron Paul: Building a Bridge to the 18th Century

I’m sure that if there is an afterlife it is currently echoing with the roaring laughter of thousands upon thousands of Mayans and the hearty chants of “I told you so”.  For their Apocalypse was merely a slow and painful death from an unstoppable smallpox plague and the muskets of brutal Spanish conquistadors.  While on the other hand, we are doomed to an eternal suffering well beyond the pale of pestilence and pillage: the 2012 presidential election season.  The slow rot of madness brought about by endless coverage of demonic howling by mental patients vying to out mind rape us, speculation by self-appointed “experts” as to which immoral nutter is most liked and why, and eventually having to choose between one of them or a corporate/militarist shill to lead our march into self-inflicted extinction.

Enter into this horrendous spectacle, a white knight.  Ron Paul stands out from the of the Republican candidates by the simple virtue of seeming to have principles he wouldn’t sell out for a handful of pills (Bachman), diamond studded whores (Gingrich), gay sex (Perry), or whatever you have in your pockets (Romney).  Congressman Paul has taken some particularly ballsy steps for a Republican presidential candidate including consistently opposing wars of aggression, acknowledging that people have a legitimate reason to be pissed off at wall street, arguing that arresting people for pot is stupid, and opposing the prevailing view in the legislature that the president should be empowered to destroy freedom in order to protect freedom.  Given his apparently genuine love of the constitution, and in light of president Obama’s abysmal record on civil liberties such as supporting the indefinite detention clauses of the NDAA and convening actual (non-health care) death panels; people who actually care for such ACLU-y things might consider voting for Paul even if they aren’t Ayn Rand cultists.

911 "Truther" Paultards

I swear, Ron Paul supporters are so omin-present and will support any gathering to spread the gospel of Paul. If there was a lynch mob after Ron Paul, they'd be there in support.

Unfortunately, Ron Paul is an Ayn Rand cultist.  Also like most of his supporters in the tea party he is ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY obsessed with 1776.  Not merely in a philosophical or legalistic sense, but in an “every problem mankind has ever faced or shall face can be solved with whatever was prevalent in late 18th century America” kind of way.  Economic meltdown you say?  Just go back to using gold backed currency, that’ll fix the whole thing (having nothing to do with Mr. Paul owning $1.6 to 3.5 million dollars worth of gold mining stocks).  What about the Civil Rights Act of 1964?  That was a “massive violation of the rights of private property and contract, which are the bedrocks of free society”, and obviously this “infringement” on the right to private property is far more important than basic human rights (such as being considered a whole, rather than fractional American).  Furthermore, Ron Paul has stated that he wishes to eliminate Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, the Department of Education, Department of Commerce, Department of Health and Human Services, and the word “Department”.  He has gone on record on many occasions arguing that private citizens are somehow capable of managing disaster response and public works projects, presumably on their off time.

Back in 2009, came a particularly strong example of Ron Paul’s fetish with Revolutionary America was shown when Ron Paul suggested a regressively innovative solution to the Somali Pirate crisis.  His idea, promoted in collaboration with “national security experts” (a scam Salon’s Glenn Greenwald has debunked quite thoroughly), was to reinstate the ancient congressional practice of issuing “letters of mark and reprisal”.  To put that in modern parlance, Congressman Paul was suggesting we bring back privateers. Explaining the brilliance of the plan is one of those “national security experts” and Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Eli Lehrer, “If we have 100 American wanna-be Rambos patrolling the seas, it’s probably a good way of getting the job done…The only cost under letters of marque would be some sort of bounty for the pirates.”  Yes, “100 American wanna-be Rambos” is a brilliant solution to any international problem, just ask Blackwater or Xe, or Arcadia, or whatever they decide to name themselves in the next week.

Pinups for Ron Paul Calendar

1776 is the only thing that still makes Ron Paul hard.

I think it has been clear to most people that Ron Paul is a very regressive candidate, whose beliefs about freedom are based on the childlike belief that liberty is spontaneous and organic.  Such a view completely ignores modern innovations and class realities, and lives in an idealized fantasy land of purely imagined nostalgia.  However, the very “outsider” persona he has gained from the open disdain of the U.S. political and journalist establishment has engendered support amongst the significant portion of Americans who feel alienated by such an establishment.

It is important to point out to this segment of the population that despite the scorn heaped upon him by people whose negative opinion is typically a sign of worthiness, his oddly noble character (for a politician), and support of popular policies like ending unnecessary foreign wars; a prospect of positive change from a Paul presidency is still unthinkable.  The only possible benefit of such a scenario is that his willingness to hack away at the good, bad, and necessary aspects of federal government would at least do away with the most egregious violations of civil liberties passed in the last 10 years (although it’s quite unlikely the legislature would allow him to do this).  Thus, there are unfortunately no remotely acceptable candidates for the office of president.  For either they are insane and/or destructively greedy (they’re Republicans), a president who placed the rich above the rule of law and into his administration, while destroying our basic constitutional rights, or…Ron Paul.