Monday, June 22, 2009

S/R Report 03: Balanced Military Spending?

My bias is that the United States spends too much money on military expenditures. I admit that statement is biased, or prejudiced. I hope, through the SR Report to learn about our defense spending and to determine some solid facts about it. If the statistics I present are not accurate, please refer me to a more solid base.

While I am anti-war, I am not anti-military. I have a son who is a Sergeant in the US Army and I am very proud of him and his service. I support a strong military, one which is an adequate deterrent to any would-be adversary. I am a patriotic American, born and raised, who truly loves this land. [So, when I say "but" do not forget these things I have just said.]

But, it seems to me that we spend way too much money on defense. Money which could be applied to very needed domestic projects, or to paying down our national debt.

For example: according to Time Magazine (6-12-09, p. 15)*in 2008:

  • the United States spent $607 billion on the military
  • China, France, UK and Russia spent $274 billion combined
  • The US has 2,000 nuclear warheads on alert for instant launch
  • The US has spent $903 billion in Afghanistan and Iraq since conflict began

President Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961) is remembered by many for his "Military-Industrial Complex" speech. That farewell address has been used by some to build fear of the growing power of the military and its defense contractors. There is serious concern in that area; many see that speech as an indictment of possible excessive spending for our military on defense projects. But, the primary thrust of Eisenhower's speech was an appeal that we maintain balance in our national spending, not that we weaken our military capabilities. He asked that we keep our priorities in order. He said:

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs

  • balance between the private and the public economy,
  • balance between cost and hoped for advantage
  • balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable;
  • balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual;
  • balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future.

Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration. The text of the complete speech can be found at: this site.

What follows is a short excerpt from Eisenhower's speech. Please remember, prior to being a two-term president of the United States, he was a five-star general in the US Army, and was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces D-Day invasion of Normandy.

Farewell Speech

The first question I raise in this S/R Report is one of balance. Is the amount of money we spend with the Pentagon an appropriate amount, given the other national needs and budget Items?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

SR Snips:

Hate Crimes: No religion is without its extremists, including those who think killing others is within God's will. Murder is a perversion of God's will and religious people must speak out against this heresy. --Rabbi Barry Block, Temple Beth-El,San Antonio. SA Express-News, 6-20-09

Gay rights: The Georgia Supreme court recently overturned a ban prohibiting a divorced gay man from attending a Little League game, or a concert if his three kids were taking part--and, if his gay partner were with him.--AP, SA Express-News, 6-21-09, p.22.

Defense SpendingThe military has purchased 183 F-22 Raptor fighters and says they probably need 60 more. The fighter costs $353 million each. --Time, 2-23-09, p30-33.

- - - - - - - - - -

*Time got its figures from the Stockholm International Peace Institute.