by David Swanson
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Let’s Try Democracy
February 28, 2017
Trump proposes to increase U.S. military spending by $54 billion, and to take that $54 billion out of the other portions of the above budget, including in particular, he says, foreign aid. If you can’t find foreign aid on the chart above, that’s because it is a portion of that little dark green slice called International Affairs. To take $54 billion out of foreign aid, you would have to cut foreign aid by approximately 200 percent.
But let’s not focus on the $54 billion. The blue section above (in the 2015 budget) is already 54% of discretionary spending (that is, 54% of all the money that the U.S. government chooses what to do with every year). It’s already 60% if you add in Veterans’ Benefits. (We should take care of everyone, of course, but we wouldn’t have to take care of amputations and brain injuries from wars if we stopped having the wars.) Trump wants to shift another 5% to the military, boosting that total to 65%.
Now I’d like to show you a ski slope that Denmark is opening on the roof of a clean power plant — a clean power plant that cost 0.06% of Trump’s military budget. [See photo]
Trump’s pretense that he’s going to just screw the no-good foreigners by taking $54 billion out of foreign aid is misleading on many levels. First, that kind of money just isn’t there. Second, foreign aid actually makes the United States safer, unlike all the “defense” spending that endangers us. Third, the $700 billion that Trump wants to borrow and blow on militarism every year would not only get us close in 8 years to wasting directly (without considering missed opportunities, interest payments, etc.) the same $6 trillion that Trump laments blowing on recent failed wars (unlike his imaginary successful wars), but that same $700 billion is more than enough to transform domestic and foreign spending alike.
It would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world. It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water. These are massive projects, but these costs as projected by the United Nations are tiny fractions of U.S. military spending. This is why the top way in which military spending kills is not with any weapon, but purely through the diversion of resources.
For similar fractions of military spending, the United States could radically improve U.S. lives in each of those other areas in that pie chart. What would you say to free, top-quality education for anyone who wants it from preschool through college, plus free job-training as needed in career changes? Would you object to free clean energy? Free fast trains to everywhere? Beautiful parks? These are not wild dreams. These are the sorts of things you can have for this kind of money, money that radically dwarfs the money hoarded by billionaires.
If those sorts of things were provided equally to all, without any bureaucracy needed to distinguish the worthy from the unworthy, popular opposition to them would be minimal. And so might be opposition to foreign aid.
U.S. foreign aid right now is about $25 billion a year. Taking it up to $100 billion would have a number of interesting impacts, including the saving of a great many lives and the prevention of a tremendous amount of suffering. It would also, if one other factor were added, make the nation that did it the most beloved nation on earth. A December 2014 Gallup poll of 65 nations found that the United States was far and away the most feared country, the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world. Were the United States responsible for providing schools and medicine and solar panels, the idea of anti-American terrorist groups would be as laughable as anti-Switzerland or anti-Canada terrorist groups, especially if one other factor were added: if the $100 billion came from the military budget. People don’t appreciate the schools you give them as much if you’re bombing them.
Instead of investing in all good things, foreign and domestic, Trump is proposing to cut them in order to invest in war. New Haven, Connecticut, just passed a resolution urging Congress to reduce the military budget, cut spending on wars and move funds to human needs. Every town, county, and city should be passing a similar resolution.
If people stopped dying in war, we would all still die of war spending.
War is not needed in order to maintain our lifestyle, as the saying goes. And wouldn’t that be reprehensible if it were true? We imagine that for 4 percent of humanity to go on using 30 percent of the world’s resources we need war or the threat of war. But the earth has no shortage of sunlight or wind. Our lifestyles can be improved with less destruction and less consumption. Our energy needs must be met in sustainable ways, or we will destroy ourselves, with or without war. That’s what’s meant by unsustainable.
So, why continue an institution of mass killing in order to prolong the use of exploitative behaviors that will ruin the earth if war doesn’t do it first? Why risk the proliferation of nuclear and other catastrophic weapons in order to continue catastrophic impacts on the earth’s climate and ecosystems?
Isn’t it time we made a choice: war or everything else?
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. War Is A Lie: Second Edition, published by Just World Books on April 5, 2016. I’ll come anywhere in the world to speak about it. Invite me!
[DS added the video reports.]
Trump reverses ‘costly, failed war’ rhetoric; gives Pentagon a raise
RT America on Feb 28, 2017
President Donald Trump aims to increase the Pentagon’s budget by $54 billion, as part of a push to rebuild America’s “depleted military.” Trump also promised to rein in domestic spending and do more with less. Journalist and activist David Swanson joins RT America’s Simone Del Rosario to unpack the issue.
‘US, military industrial complex preventing global nuclear disarmament’ – Nobel Peace Prize nominee
RT America on Feb 28, 2017
The White House announced its plans to increase the US defense budget by $54 billion dollars with part of it going to restoring the US’s nuclear capabilities. Nobel Peace Prize nominee and author of the book “Sleepwalking to Armageddon: The Threat of Nuclear Annihilation,” Dr. Helen Caldicott joins RT America’s Simone Del Rosario to discuss.
from the archives:
Thirty Seconds To Midnight – The Final Wake Up Call
The Great American Perpetual Motion War Machine by Greg Maybury
Chris Hedges: We Have To Grow Up + David Swanson: Anti-Russian US Establishment Willing To Risk Nuclear War
David Swanson: How Will Trump Wield Obama’s Modernized Nukes?
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The underlying battle is between science and religious beliefs. Imagine how far we would have advanced had Constantine I (circa 300 CE) had avoided religious megalomania. Muhammad (circa 750 CE) would not have existed since it was the Roman Catholic archangel Gabriel who first spoke to him.
Books, music, nature, art, science, the universe, education, drama and life would have propelled people forward to name a few. Alas we are led by people who consider life nothing more than a means to live in a (polluted) cloud beside a mythical being.
Dennis, what does your comment have to do with this blog post? It seems off-topic to me.
What battle between Science and Religion? The two are not mutually exclusive.
If you’d like to discuss this, maybe post your comment on this post:
Based on your outlining military spending and what the money could be doing. The spending dramatically increased with the War on Terror and the Axis of Evil. Do bombs bring us a cure for cancer? Where would the world be if we talked to one rather than bomb other nations into rubble. Money spent in the name of a crusade is wasteful military spending.
Why the comment about Science vs Religion in your last comment?
well – he keeps his promises . this one i dont like . but then again who does ?
Weapons manufacturers, for one.
Not sure about that Rocket, because it’s not just him; so many militant factions vying for ascendancy & control in the US right now ~ it doesn’t look good….I’m not at all confident about how this is going to pan out ~ it could all get mired in litigious log-jams & what about rapprochement with Moscow? When’s he going to see Merkel? Kiss the ‘green’ piscatory….?
(Still unable to log in properly with my fb connection Lo, not sure why….something disabling the link)
Now how weird is this….?
Hm, I really don’t know what’s going on. I didn’t change anything on my part nor could I as WordPress makes the changes. It may be a technical glitch on Facebook’s part. Were you already logged on to Facebook when you made the first comment? Did you clear your cookies?
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Not a lot will be done to arrest this wrong-headed dereliction of responsibility. It will be interesting to see how the religious mania that now grips America is played out, should we survive it.
We must face the fact that we have reached the end of this ugly road to gluttonous stupidity. As the robotic satnav says “you have arrived.” It is almost pointless to waste time and precious life energy trying to enlighten fools.
The perversity of mankind is truly exceptional. The systems of self-governance we are conditioned to invest confidence in, simply do not function because the main protagonists are lawless, deluded and frankly unhinged.
I doubt that very much can change the trend to promote violent annihilation now unless the dollar collapses. Even then, the risk may be anarchy far more severe than ‘daesh.’ It may be that Trump’s learning curve will be steep and swift enough to amend disaster. The super-daddy plan seems to be global rule by perpetual threat of universal holocaust from Jerusalem; at least symbolically.
In real terms of course, Russia represents the ‘orthodox’ Byzantine side of this christist coin, Putin being a devout apologist for his traditional values; while the US embodies the triumphalist evangelical-catholic ‘Western’ manifestation, the Holy Roman-in the-gloamin’ conceit that Mecca and Medina are a sort of therapeutic theme park for geriatric Arabs. It is a cultural divide that dates back a thousand years to the great schism.
As Helen Caldicott explains, we are locked in the same lethal fix that has presided over our pathetic world for seventy years. The stand-off is now in its most critical phase.
I dare say resistance in the US will probably find a way to exercise some autonomy at the State level, but it looks like a rocky ride is in store on the domestic front. Probably the fatal crack in the irradiated super-egg of US Orphic precocity, will prove to be the increasing sense of impending international pariah status, that this administration is so enthusiastically earning itself.
Sorry the chart is unavailable. It was there yesterday and gone today. Hoping David has a copy somewhere and it will be replaced.