Friday, December 10, 2010

There's No Such Thing As Too Much Defense Spending In 'Christian' America

President Eisenhower was not a modern right wing Christian with a personal relationship with Jesus. Eisenhower wasn't enlightened enough to know how much Jesus approves of the vast American defense machine.

When ever I read something from the Christian right about the US being a Christian country I chuckle.  If a person really looks at US policy and spending priorities it's utterly laughable to think Jesus Christ would identify with the United States anymore than He did with Imperial Rome. Or that He would identify with the Christian right anymore than He did with Jewish pharisees.  The NCR published an editorial today on US defense spending.  Here's the meat of it:

.....To the degree federal spending is any indication of national values and priorities, we have lost our way. We are out of touch with our civic, human and Christian ideals.

Let’s take a look. The numbers today are so large they are incomprehensible. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Military Expenditure Database, U.S. military spending in 2009 came to $663 billion. Second on the list of military spenders was China, at $98 billion. If one were to add all 2009 military spending by the top 19 spending nations, other than the United States, the figure comes to $642 billion, or $21 billion less than the United States spent in that year. (This is under the Presidency of  Mr. "Change we can believe in.")

When the 2010 fiscal year budget was signed into law in October 2009, the final size of the Department of Defense’s budget was $680 billion, $16 billion more than President Obama had requested. An additional $37 billion supplemental bill to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was expected to pass Congress in the spring of 2010, but has been delayed by the House of Representatives after passing the Senate. Meanwhile, military-related expenditures outside of the Department of Defense constitute between $319 billion and $654 billion in additional spending, bringing the total for military-related spending in the 2010 fiscal year to between $1.01 trillion and $1.35 trillion, a new landmark.(A significant portion of that additional spending is for the Department of Homeland Security.)

Meanwhile, the Obama administration last May released a one-page unclassified summary of a classified report sent to lawmakers. It projects that spending on so-called modernization of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex over the decade will reach $85 billion. An additional $100 billion is also to be spent on strategic nuclear delivery systems such as bombers and land- and submarine-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Elements in this spending orgy are being played out by pro-military-spending senators, many of them Catholics, as chips in a poker game with Obama, who wants the Senate to ratify a new START treaty. Continued nuclear reductions, however tediously slow, depend on Senate passage of this treaty with Russia.

Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., speaking on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a Nov. 29 letter urged the Senate to approve the treaty during the lame-duck session in the final weeks of 2010.

Citing earlier statements by both Pope Benedict XVI and the bishops’ conference, Hubbard called ratification of the arms control accord critical “because it is a modest step toward a world with greater respect for human life.”......

......Our bishops are right to lobby for treaty ratification. We hope they press our Catholic senators, reminding them, as our bishops have taught for more than 20 years, that the U.S. nuclear deterrent system is only plausibly “moral” as long as we are moving toward total nuclear disarmament. (I am eagerly anticipating homilies from Cardinal Burke and Archbishop Chaput threatening to deny communion to these Catholic senators.)

Is there any way to comprehend what military spending is doing to us? How it is shaping our lives? Our souls? Can we ever fathom how a trillion dollars of military expenditures in a single year is viewed elsewhere in the world?

Beneath our daily commutes to work, our family life, our church life, beneath the civil laws that govern us, we have become a militarized nation. The influence of military spending silently shapes us as it shapes our national budget.

Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency is probably remembered less for what he did in office than for what he said while heading for the exit. In a nationally televised address Jan. 17, 1961, only four days before John F. Kennedy’s inaugural, Eisenhower warned of the dangers of “undue influence” exerted by the “military-industrial complex.” He cautioned that maintaining a large, permanent military establishment was new in the American experience, and suggested that an “engaged citizenry” offered the only effective defense against the “misplaced power” of the military-industrial lobby.

He warned: “The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.”


Somewhere up in this editorial the question is posed, "Can we ever fathom how a trillion dollars in military expenditures in a single year is viewed elsewhere in the world?"  I know I can't, because I have a difficult time comprehending a trillion dollars period.  Just like I have a difficult time understanding why the US needs to spend more money on defense than the next nineteen countries combined.  Maybe it's a new way to insure a form of universal health coverage if most of us work for the DOD or the DOHS, which last figures I saw, say twenty five percent of us do in some form or another.

I keep waiting for some representative of the Tea Party to speak to this form of VERY BIG GOVERNMENT, but they never do. I wonder why that is. 

I keep waiting for some right wing conservative to speak to this form of government generated SOCIAL CORPORATE WELFARE, but they never do.  I wonder why that is. 

I keep waiting for Archbishop Chaput or Cardinal George or Cardinal Burke or USCCB President Dolan to start giving homilies on the obscenity of this kind of ANTI LIFE spending, but they don't seem to see the need, and I wonder why that is.

So when all the above start babbling about the US being a Christian country I have to laugh, and wonder why they think that, when it's so obviously not. It makes me wonder if  I've just got the Jesus thing totally wrong.  Maybe Jesus really was some sort of secret corporate oligarch heavily invested in the Roman Military Industrial Complex and all His teachings about justice for the poor and marginalized were really just political spin to cover His real tracks. 

Except something else tells me it's really our modern corporate oligarchs that are the people hiding behind all that Jesus rhetoric spouted by all those pious Christian leaders---and what is really incomprehensible to me is that any American, Christian or not,  actually believes them.


  1. Bravo!

    Thank you for the inspired piece. You really nailed it. Amen.

    May I make a few observations that are puzzling about the silence of the US bishops?

    1. Where is their commentary on the misrepresentation of the bible in politics? For example: Why didn't the bishops point out the error of Congressman John Shimkus' thinking here?

    Shimkus said God decides "when the earth will end" regarding hearings into climate change.

    2. Why don't the Catholic bishops have some pro-life commentary on policies that are destroying American society? According to Harper's Index

    "• Amount the state of California spent last year on each minor in its juvenile-detention system: $224,712

    • Amount spent on each student in the Oakland public school system: $4,945"

    With the consequences of...

    The USA ranking 14th among OECD nations in literacy, 25th in maths, and 17th in science. (2009 standardized tests of 15 year olds)

    "...Number of countries with which the United States has a trade deficit: 77" (Harpers Index)

    "Is there any way to comprehend what military spending is doing to us? "

    The NCR needs to look much more carefully at the cost of the Bush wars, much of which is "off-budget". The total dollar figure is estimated to be about $3 trillion. Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz and co-author Linda Bilmes break it down here:

    Finally, witness the decline of one of America's great cities, Detroit. How prescient the writers of "Robocop" were...

    It makes one want to cry.


  2. I, too, marvel how the Christian right can call themselves Christian, and can declare that we are a Christian nation. One has to go no farther than the Beatitudes to see how far our government's policies and our conservative Catholic leaders posturings are from what Jesus taught.

  3. One has to go no farther than the Beatitudes to see that the Christian Right and the conservative Catholic leaders are completely out of touch with what Jesus taught.

  4. I found this comment after a news article about Wikileaks. I think that It is applicable here. dennis

    Already way beyond an unquestionably Fascist USA?

    Mussolini's 1923 definition of fascism :

    "In a 1923 pamphlet titled 'The Doctrine of Fascism' he wrote, "If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government." But not a government of, by, and for We The People - instead, it would be a government of, by, and for the most powerful corporate interests in the nation.

    US Vice-President Wallace's 1944 definition :

    If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. ... They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead."

    In September 2000:

    American neocons Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush, Richard Perle, Scooter Libby, et al pimped nascent Hitlers into strategic government posts and published their "Mein Kampf" under the title "Project for a New American Century" subsequently bolstered through the exceedingly unpatriotic "Patriot Act" enacted by a mostly gutless, soulless congeries of profiteering Congressional puppets.

    Hitler's, Mussolini's and Stalin's brands of fascism were just benign prologues to the super technologically empowered fascist secret state which has evolved from those earlier twentieth century political nightmares.

    Know your fascist state: it is deadly, it is here.

  5. Very powerful post Dennis. Know your fascists is very good advice.
    Today's news would have us believe 'pragmatism' is a form of idealism when in fact it operates as another face of greed driven fascism.

    Two trends I find fascinating are Wikileaks/Anonymous and their effects on government and businesses, and the other is billionaires like Gates and Buffet realizing it may be past time the ultra wealthy stopped biting the hands that fed them and recycle some of their wealth. I once read somewhere that Gate's believes the best investment for Microsoft is in the human resources of the world, partly because the human resource is also the human consumer, but also because the hi tech industry is totally dependent for creation, manufacture, and consumption on an educated population with access to the wealth necessary to participate in the hi tech world.