WILLIAM HARTUNG, williamhartung55 [at] gmail.com, @williamhartung
Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. He is the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.
He recently wrote a piece for The Nation, “We Can Fight Trump’s Cuts to Essential Government Programs,” which states: “Mick Mulvaney, has assembled a ‘hit list’ of agencies and programs to eliminate. … The proposed cuts have everything to do with right-wing ideology and nothing to do with fiscal responsibility. All of the programs slated for closing provide essential public services. All of the programs slated for closure, plus the proposed Planned Parenthood cuts, cost the federal government a combined total of about $3 billion per year. That grand totally amounts to one-half of one percent of, the current Pentagon budget, now runs at about $600 billion per year. And that’s before Trump’s pledge to throw an additional $1 trillion at that bloated department over the next ten years.
“Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation, which has aggressively pushed its skewed budget priorities on the new administration, tried to justify Trump’s ill-considered proposals: ‘I think it’s an important endeavor to try to get rid of things that are unnecessary… The American public has a lot of contempt for how government is run in Washington, in no small part because there is so much waste.’
“Moore’s claim is absurd on the face of it. First of all, supporting well-run programs like women’s health care, the arts, and legal services for the poor is not ‘waste.’ Suggesting that these programs are wasteful to any significant degree, as Moore has done, is what is really deserving of contempt. This is especially so when one considers the tens of billions of dollars of waste in the Pentagon budget, money that has absolutely nothing to do with defending the country or supporting the troops…
“Perhaps the biggest waste of all is the Pentagon’s preexisting plan to spend an estimated $1 trillion over the next three decades on a new generation of bombers, submarines, missiles, cruise missiles, and factory upgrades. Even if one believes there is a ‘need’ for nuclear weapons to deter another nation from launching a nuclear attack, independent experts have indicated that that function could be accomplished with a few hundred warheads. The current U.S. arsenal of deployed and stockpiled nuclear warheads numbers 4,500. And once the New START treaty is fully implemented, 1,550 of those warheads will be deployed and ready to launch. This needless nuclear excess is good news for Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics and terrible news for American taxpayers, not to mention the possible basis for a new nuclear arms race that would threaten us all. And of course, the only way to be truly safe from nuclear weapons is to get rid of them altogether, as presidents from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama have acknowledged, even if they were unable to achieve that admittedly daunting goal.”
COLLEEN KELLY, colleen [at] veteransforpeace.org, @vfpnational
Kelly is communications coordinator for Veterans for Peace. They just released a statement, which notes that following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001: “The U.S. went on to invade Iraq, overthrow the government in Libya and drop bombs in Syria,Yemen, Somalia and other nations. An October 16, 2016 New York Times article states, ‘This year alone, the United States has carried out airstrikes in seven countries and conducted Special Operations missions in many more.’
“The President plans to increase Pentagon spending by $54 billion, claiming that the U.S. military is broken and depleted. Mr. Trump recently spoke to service members aboard the new $13 billion USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier reiterating his call for more spending. Ironically the carrier is a real-life example of why more spending is not needed. U.S. military capabilities far outstrip all other nations. The carrier is an addition to a navy that was already unmatched by all others. With ten carriers, the U.S. has more than all other nations combined and the carriers are larger, providing more deck space per carrier than other nations. The U.S. Navy has thousands of aircraft, making it the second largest air force in the world behind the U.S. Air Force. The U.S. already spends almost three times what any other country spends on [the military] and more than the next nine countries combined.
“As citizens participating in self-government, it is our responsibility to ask, with this massive military capability and spending and endless global wars costing trillions, why are 15 years of war policy not working? Who is benefiting from more spending on killing and death?”