“War and the business of war is a greater threat to democracy at home than any other threat abroad…”
These figures fairly reflect US government priorities, but probably less so the priorities of the American people.
I understand the argument that equates high government spending on the armed forces to the military being a “socialist” institution; and whilst it’s fun to tease Republicans with the hypocrisy of their opposition to spending on socialized medicine, or education, whilst they remain fanatically enthusiastic about spending on a socialized military, there is something even more pernicious about this.
Socialism is meant, at least theoretically, to represent a transfer of wealth from the private sector to the public sector, or in more basic terms, from richer to poorer. What this represents is something different; it’s a transfer of wealth from the public sector to the private sector, from the poor and middle classes to the privately owned and hugely wealthy corporations who supply military contracts.
Regardless of your opinion on taxation (and I know we have many libertarians who support this page, all of whom are welcome), the corporate sponsorship of the politicians who in return loot the national treasury in favor of these sponsors is blatantly corrupt and wholly undemocratic. More than that, it’s a driver for war. There are huge vested interests intent on making sure that the USA always has an enemy which the public are sufficiently fearful of to justify and make acceptable the daylight robbery of millions of citizens of billions of dollars, and inevitably, the destruction of foreign countries and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.
This doesn’t create jobs, the arms industry is highly technical and low on labor costs. The costs of training military personnel are huge. If the money spent on the military, which has a primarily destructive function, were either spent instead on socially beneficial projects or simply left in the taxpayer’s pockets to spend as they choose, more jobs would result.
If the death march of the US military across this planet is ever to be halted, the challenge to democracy within the USA presented by the military industrial complex will need to be addressed. Never mind freedom and democracy elsewhere, war and the business of war is a greater threat to democracy at home than any other threat abroad. The soldiers also profit from this, and take orders directly from the same politicians who endorse this expenditure. A positive change in foreign policy would be a direct threat to the livelihood of every soldier in exactly the same way as it would threaten the profits of those who manufacture and supply the arms and equipment they use to wage war, not to mention the other corporations who reap the spoils of war; gaining access to resources and markets, and the reconstruction contracts to rebuild what the military lays waste to.
Soldiers are an essential and inherent component in the machinery of war. If ordered to, many of them would defend the interests of these corporations against the American people, just as they do abroad. Soldiers are not defending freedom, they’re part of the threat to it.