A special thanks goes out to Jerry Critter over at Critter's Crap(http://critterscrap.blogspot.com) for the graph below and for having inspired this piece.
Upon leaving office in January, 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, himself a career military man, warned us about the rise of a dangerous military/industrial complex. He thought it unwise for the country to have too cozy a relationship between arms manifacturers and the military, or for military adventurism and huge military xpenditures to become institutionaized as an accepted and permanent norm in American life.
Regrettably, the country did not heed his warning.
As this graph clearly shows, our current spending on the military vastly outranks and dwarfs that of every other major country on the planet. From weapons manufacturers like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grunman, and Boeing, to parasitical supply and mercenary security groups like Halliburton and Xe (formerly Blackwater), our government has embarked on an unsustaunable and insane program of gigantic military expenditure. The time has come for us to take a serious look at what we are doing and what we have become.
Below is a chart showing expenditures among our top 100 defense contractors in 2009 (for reasons of brevity, only the top 10 are shown here. You can see the full table at www.governmentexecutive.com). You'll note that we spent a whopping $377,545, 789, 635 among these contractors, and that did not include pay for our troops or for the hugely bloated Pentagon. That's right---the figure was $377.5 BILLION! That's more than $1 BILLION for every man, woman, and child in the country! Read this and weep, people:
Total Purchases: $377,545,789,635
Rank /Parent Company /Total DoD /Air Force /Army /Navy
1 Lockheed Martin Corp. $30,051,930,697 /$13,402,513,986 /$4,673,579,372 /$9,994,571,537
2 Northrop Grumman Corp. 23,493,816,066 /5,479,989,076 /6,716,656,907 /10,105,473,396
3 Boeing Co. 23,337,676,385 /7,794,047,338 /5,731,974,349 /7,748,677,940
4 BAE Systems 16,280,496,923 /828,059,801 /10,089,734,594 /4,804,129,315
5 General Dynamics Corp. 14,438,355,290 /1,214,774,012 /6,405,315,050 /6,483,123,733
6 Raytheon Co. 14,219,207,207 /2,253,498,433 /5,355,002,065 /5,065,679,797
7 United Technologies Corp. 8,300,866,917 /1,523,796,618 /4,688,709,458 /1,815,768,432
8 L-3 Communications Holdings 6,708,092,019 /2,351,444,344 /2,609,680,934 /1,002,989,257
9 KBR Inc. 5,997,147,425 /0 /5,967,705,203 /21,562,825
10 Navistar International Corp. 4,755,920,575 /0 /1,050,487,191 /3,661,537,716
QUESTION: Now what if even 4 or 5 of these companies had devoted themselves to producing more fuel-efficient engines, or items that would help modernize our infrastructure, as opposed to making only products designed to kill and maim people outside of our borders?
We have become a nation obsessed with the military. Signs of its glorification are everywhere, and have been for years. Seldom a week goes by that I don't get an email or two extolling the good deeds and bravery of our soldiers and telling me to pray for them. The words "support our troops overseas!" are repeated like a mantra. Seventh inning stretches at major league baseball games are often devoted to specific troopers being recognized and praised, and then leading a chorus of "God Bless America." An entire cable/satellite television network devotes its entire programming to past wars as well as past and future military equipment, and even glamorizing certain branches of the military, like Navy SEALS and the Marines. Country music has produced a number of nationalistic songs reinforcing the errant notion that we are the only country that really matters in the world and that we are inherently correct and good in all that we do, not to merntion being unquestioningly the very best. It is almost as though we are subtly and continually being sold war, the military, and nationalism, and I do not believe that to be a healthy thing.
George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld deliberately lied and sold us into an unnecessary and bloody war in Iraq. They tried to sell us the notion that pre-emptive war was normal and honorable and that torture was permissable and advisable. Even worse, they rewarded corporate campaign supporters with gigantic lucrative non-bid contracts at taxpayer expense to supply our troops in that war. In the process, thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians were brutally murdered, and the war itself was turned into a profit-center bonanza for private American companies. Cheney, in particular, yet all of his neocon followers as well, are pressing for military intervention in Iran, trying to keep us perpetually at war all across the globe. This is insane and immoral as well.
There was nothing glorious or glamorous about that.
The sole reason for war is legitimate defense. It is NOT to be conducted primarily for profit or bravado or to reward political friends and campaign contributors.
The following is a table of the top 15 countries with the highest military expenditure for 2009 published in the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Yearbook 2010 using current market exchange rates in current (2009) US dollars.
Rank Country 2009 Spending ($ b.) Share of 2008 GDP (%) World Share (%)
— World Total 1531 2.7 100
1 United States 661 4.3 43
2 China 100 2.0 6.6
3 France 63.9 2.3 4.2
4 United Kingdom 58.3 2.5 3.8
5 Russia 53.3 3.5 3.5
6 Japan 51.0 0.9 3.3
7 Germany 45.6 1.3 3.0
8 Saudi Arabiab 41.3 8.2 2.7
9 India 36.3 2.6 2.4
10 Italy 35.8 1.7 2.3
11 Brazil 26.1 1.5 1.7
12 South Korea 24.1 2.8 1.6
13 Canada 19.2 1.3 1.3
14 Australia 19.0 1.8 1.2
15 Spain 18.3 1.2 1.2
The amount we spend on our military is ridiculously excessive. Don't get me wrong: I very much appreciate the supreme sacrifice many of our fallen soldiers have made to ensure the continuation of our freedom. And I do support the hardship and sacrifice those currently overseas are going through on our behalf. But at the same time, I am ashamed at the immorality of our being the world's biggest arms merchant, and the fact that these expenditures are being made nonstop even as our infrastructure crumbles, millions are unemployed or underemployed,domestic hunger and poverty is rising, and our overall quality of life is dropping for many. In light of these events, such vast expenditures cannot be justified.
As you look at the figures below, remember that they not only represent each nation's security, but also are buying DEATH for many innocents.
Rank Country Military expenditure, 2009, % of GDP, 2008
1 United States 663,255,000,000 4.3%
2 China 98,800,000,000 2.0%
3 United Kingdom 69,271,000,000 2.5%
4 France 67,316,000,000 2.3%
5 Russian Federation 61,000,000,000 3.5%
6 Germany 48,022,000,000 1.3%
7 Japan 46,859,000,000 0.9%
8 Saudi Arabia 39,257,000,000 8.2%
9 Italy 37,427,000,000 1.7%
10 India 36,600,000,000 2.6%
11 South Korea 27,130,000,000 2.8%
12 Brazil 27,124,000,000 1.5%
13 Canada 20,564,000,000 1.3%
14 Australia 20,109,000,000 1.8%
15 Spain 19,409,000,000 1.2%
16 Turkey 19,009,000,000 2.2%
17 Israel 14,309,000,000 7.0%
18 Greece 13,917,000,000 3.6%
19 United Arab Emirates 13,052,000,000a 5.9%a
20 Netherlands 12,642,000,000 1.4%
21 Poland 10,860,000,000 2.0%
22 Colombia 10,055,000,000 3.7%
23 Republic of China (Taiwan) 9,866,000,000 2.1%
24 Iran 9,174,000,000b 2.7%
25 Singapore 7,966,000,000 4.1
We are spending ridiculously high amounts on producing death and destruction across the globe. We are not only blowing this money on armaments, but just as we are doing in the areas of oil and health care, our failure to stand up and raise cain about it enables a very small elite to prosper tremendously on the suffering of others. Yes, the defense industry provides a great number of good-paying American jobs. But it is blood money, and it would be far better if a portion of this investment were to go toward producing goods for green technology, our infrastructure, or the agricultural or medical fields instead. For we have fueled not only a mega-industry of death, but also a culture of militarism that will make it very easy to become involved in yet another illegal and aggressive pre-emptive military fiasco elsewhere down the line. It is indeed just and necessary for us to respect and protect the lives of our troops who are in harm's way, but it is also time for us to look for new alternatives other than rifles, tanks, and bombs to be profitable growth areas for the economy. end to end our excessive and unhealthy obsession with the military!
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