Yesterday, President Obama announced his new $3.8 Trillion budget proposal, including about a trillion dollars for war and military, including increasing expenditure on Nuclear Weapons by $7 billion! Nuclear weapons? Really? That’s the change we can believe in?
[update 2/5: I should also mention the completely misguided funding of nuclear power plants as well, see Obama’s Nuclear Giveaway]
This news came alongside an announced “spending freeze”, which would exclude military/war and only affect social programs, like jobs, housing, education and health care. These are precisely the programs which need to be dramatically increased in this economic crisis, not frozen. This proposed freeze would last 3 years, meaning for the rest of Obama’s term in office we could see no new spending on any of the social programs that are desperately needed. The poor, the middle and working classes, and everyone who has hope for a more compassionate United States is essentially being locked out in the cold.
Candidate Obama himself campaigned against exactly such an “across the board spending freeze,” as we may recall if we can muster our memories back through one year of hazy distractions (luckily Youtube never forgets):
If they’re so interested in reducing spending, why not cut totally useless and destructive programs – like NUCLEAR WEAPONS?
Why is Obama backsliding on all of his campaign promises? It just so happens that even though there’s no sane use of additional nuclear weapons (the US stockpile is already over 10,000 warheads, and the Cold War is over), nuclear weapons corporations like Lockheed Martin spend millions of dollars to lobby politicians for this funding anyway. And sadly, they’re getting it because Obama is afraid of the Republicans.
Once again we are seeing the continued march towards war, death and neo-fascism. The needs of the population – from decent jobs and housing, affordable education and health care, to a healthy environment – are being denied in order to protect corporate and financial interests.
Here’s Democracy Now! with the nuclear weapons story, and an article from Norman Solomon on the spending freeze below:
As part of a record $3.8 trillion budget proposal, the Obama administration is asking Congress to increase spending on the US nuclear arsenal by more than $7 billion over the next five years. Obama is seeking the extra money despite a pledge to cut the US arsenal and seek a nuclear weapons-free world. The proposal includes large funding increases for a new plutonium production facility in Los Alamos, New Mexico. We speak with Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch of New Mexico. Watch video.
This isn’t “defense.”
The new budget from the White House will push U.S. military spending well above $2 billion a day.
Foreclosing the future of our country should not be confused with defending it.
“Unless miraculous growth, or miraculous political compromises, creates some unforeseen change over the next decade, there is virtually no room for new domestic initiatives for Mr. Obama or his successors,” the New York Times reports this morning (February 2).
It isn’t defense to preclude new domestic initiatives for a country that desperately needs them: for healthcare, jobs, green technologies, carbon reduction, housing, education, nutrition, mass transit . . .
“When a nation becomes obsessed with the guns of war, social programs must inevitably suffer,” Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out. “We can talk about guns and butter all we want to, but when the guns are there with all of its emphasis you don’t even get good oleo. These are facts of life.”
At least Lyndon Johnson had a “war on poverty.” For a while anyway, till his war on Vietnam destroyed it.
Since then, waving the white flag at widespread poverty — usually by leaving it unmentioned — has been a political fact of life in Washington.
Oratory can be nice, but budget numbers tell us where an administration is headed. In 2010, this one is marching up a steep military escalator, under the banner of “defense.”
Legitimate defense would cost a mere fraction of this budget.
By autumn, the Pentagon is scheduled to have a total of 100,000 uniformed U.S. troops — and a comparable number of private contract employees — in Afghanistan, where the main beneficiaries are the recruiters for Afghan insurgent forces and the profiteers growing even richer under the wing of Karzai-government corruption.
After three decades of frequent carnage and extreme poverty in Afghanistan, a new influx of lethal violence is arriving via the Defense Department. That’s the cosmetically named agency in charge of sending U.S. soldiers to endure and inflict unspeakable horrors.
New waves of veterans will return home to struggle with grievous physical and emotional injuries. Without a fundamental change in the nation’s direction, they’ll be trying to resume their lives in a society ravaged by budget priorities that treat huge military spending as sacrosanct.
“At $744 billion, the military budget — including military programs outside the Pentagon, such as the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons management — is a budget of add-ons rather than choices,” says Miriam Pemberton at the Institute for Policy Studies. “And it makes the imbalance between spending on military vs. non-military security tools worse.”
Of course the corporate profits for military contractors are humongous.
The executive director of the National Priorities Project, Jo Comerford, offers this context: “The Obama administration has handed us the largest Pentagon budget since World War II, not including the $160 billion in war funding for Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The word “defense” is inherently self-justifying. But it begs the question: Just what is being defended?
For the United States, an epitaph on the horizon says: “We had to destroy our country in order to defend it.”
As new sequences of political horrors unfold, maybe it’s a bit too easy for writers and readers of the progressive blogosphere to remain within the politics of online denunciation. Cogent analysis and articulated outrage are necessary but insufficient. The unmet challenge is to organize widely, consistently and effectively — against the warfare state — on behalf of humanistic priorities.
In the process, let’s be clear. This is not a defense budget. This is a death budget.