LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Move money away from ‘war making’ efforts

In 2015, the U.S. military budget was $598 billion, more than the combined military expenditures of the next seven countries combined: China plus Russia plus Saudi Arabia plus France plus Japan plus the United Kingdom plus India.

When President Trump put forth his budget proposal at the beginning of last year, he proposed to raise military spending by $50 billion. One might have thought that Congress wouldn’t go for that, considering the already immense level of our military spending. But Congress doubled the increase Trump called for, so this year we will spend $700 billion on the military.

What’s more surprising is that all three members of Delaware’s Democratic congressional delegation voted for the $100 billion increase: Sen. Chris Coons, Sen. Tom Carper, and Delaware’s newest, Rep. Lisa Rochester.

When we consider that the total cost of Medicare for the country is about $55 billion annually, our congressional representatives all voted to increase the already gigantic military budget by an amount that was almost twice the annual cost of Medicare.

Although the Pentagon is the home of what is called the Department of Defense, its actions go far beyond defense. It should resume its older title, the Department of War. After witnessing and sometimes opposing the wars we have waged, beginning with the Vietnam War, the invasion of Panama, the invasion of Grenada, the Iraq War No. 1, the bombing of Serbia, the attack on Somalia, the Invasion of Afghanistan, the Iraq War No. 2, the devastating destruction of Libya and installation of the brutal rule of jihadi militias there, and the current invasion of Syria, not to mention the current war in the Philippines, the military actions in Niger, and our military support of the criminal Saudi war on Yemen, I have a hard time with the claim that this is defense.

A more reasonable explanation for our immense military buildup is that our leadership wants to dominate the world by military force, and employ that force at will, killing and maiming people and destroying things in other countries, which we have done over and over. An international survey recently confirmed that, around the world, the U.S. is regarded as the overwhelming threat to world peace.

A couple of examples from this budget include the plan developed under President Obama to spend $1.7 trillion over a series of years on preparation for nuclear war, including a massive upgrade in nuclear weapons. A second budget item is the F-35 jet fighter at a cost of $406 billion. It is the most expensive weapon system the Pentagon has ever fielded. A third item is the cost of funding the ongoing wars, including those in in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, the Philipines, Iraq, Somalia and Libya.

The Costs of War Project at Brown University estimates the cost of wars since 9/11 at the astounding amount of $5.6 trillion. The interest we will pay in the course of paying off this debt from these wars has been estimated at $7.9 trillion in the decades to come.

The Bush administration claimed that the Iraq war would cost $50 to $60 billion, but that estimate is a tiny fraction of what the real costs were. One cost of war that is often underestimated is the care of the more than 2 million veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts. This amount does not begin to include the tragic loss of fathers, sons, brothers and sisters and daughters either killed outright in these wars or damaged badly in ways that restrict their abilities for the rest of their lives.

Our congressional representatives’ votes to pour more coal on our immense war machine contributes further, not only to the violence we do to the rest of the world, but to the sickness of violence in our country that leads to massacres in schools and concert halls. Our war making feeds that sick culture of violence.

A vigil will be held on Tax Day, Monday outside the Wilmington Post Office at 500 Delaware Ave. from noon to 1 p.m, organized by the Peace Seekers campaign of Pacem in Terris. If you are not happy with the large number of wars we are fighting, and would rather we spend our treasure on things that will help people, like education, health care, affordable housing or infrastructure, I suggest you consider calling our two congressional delegates up for re-election this year, Sen. Tom Carper at (202) 224-2441 and Rep. Lisa Rochester at 202-225-4165.

Desmond Kahn

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