This Is How Civilizations Collapse from Within
by Bruce Amundson, Vice President, WPSR
In December, Congress passed the 2020 military spending act, a grotesque $738 billion bill representing even $30 billion more than last year. Pentagon spending in 2019 is actually higher than it was at the peak of either the Korean or Vietnam conflicts. As fear of terrorism generated by the 9/11 attacks set the stage for 18 years of ill-advised military adventures, we have witnessed the relentless expansion of the military budget and, at least as disconcerting, the militarization of our foreign policy and our diplomatic face to the world.
The end of the Cold War resulted in the rarest of things: real cuts in the Pentagon budget. They hit hard enough that the weapons industry was forced into a series of mega-mergers, leaving only 5 major defense contractors, one of which is Boeing. These five firms now split roughly $100 billion in Pentagon contracts annually.
Why has it been so hard to reduce the Pentagon budget, regardless of the global security environment? The brute power of the arms industry lobby together with the seductive allure of military-industrial jobs in most Congressional districts have proved to cement the power of the military-industrial-congressional complex to continue to pour ever-increasing dollars into the defense budget.
The military itself has blindly adhered to a strategy of global dominance that’s essentially been on autopilot, no matter the damaging consequences of near-endless wars and preparations for more of them. In Africa, for example, our dominant presence in over 30 nations is the military, not our diplomatic corps.
Spending on the US nuclear weapons program further illustrates the problem. In spite of tenacious efforts by Washington Rep. Adam Smith, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, to introduce an amendment to the 2020 military bill to rein in spending on a dangerous new so-called low-yield nuclear warhead for the Bangor-based Trident submarines, this amendment was stripped out in the Senate.
As an organization of health professionals, here is what we see: the most urgent threats to the safety of the planet and to human health today are an overheating planet, nuclear war, epidemics, poverty and destructive levels of inequality. None of these threats can even remotely be addressed by military means.
The militarization of our face to the world together with the squandering of trillions of dollars that could do so much good for this country have implications for every resident and city in this land, a country awash in unmet human needs and crumbling infrastructure.
It’s time citizens insist that our elected officials stop this madness. This is how civilizations collapse from within.