Date: 2022-07-01 Page is: DBtxt003.php txt00021064
US Foreign Policy
Original article: https://www.laprogressive.com/military-budget/
I am comfortable with having a strong Department of Defense, but the US military is something a lot more than that ... very expensive and not at all fit for purpose. There is little to like about the US military ... though I have a child's enthusiasm for the high tech toys the soldiers, sailors and airmen get to play with ... but at what cost? I have worked in a number of places around the world where there was some risk ... but when push came to shove, the US military was not going to show up, rather it was going to be the British or the French. I am an advocate for a strong US foreign policy but I want ot to be led by diplomats and not by soldiers. The goal should be to be the winner of a peace rather then winning a war. The US should be leading in building a world that is better, not winning by being bigger and better at the art of destruction!
Let’s Stop Calling the Military Budget a ‘Defense’ Budget
BY NORMAN SOLOMON
POSTED ON OCTOBER 5, 2021
It’s bad enough that mainstream news outlets routinely call the Pentagon budget a “defense” budget. But the fact that progressives in Congress and even many antiwar activists also do the same is an indication of how deeply the mindsets of the nation’s warfare state are embedded in the political culture of the United States.
The misleading first name of the Defense Department doesn’t justify using “defense” as an adjective for its budget. On the contrary, the ubiquitous use of phrases like “defense budget” and “defense spending”—virtually always written with a lower-case “d”—reinforces the false notion that equates the USA’s humongous military operations with defense.
In the real world, the United States spends more money on its military than the next 10 countries all together. And most of those countries are military allies.
What about military bases in foreign countries? The U.S. currently has 750, while Russia has about two dozen and China has one. The author of the landmark book “Base Nation,” American University professor David Vine, just co-wrote a report that points out “the United States has at least three times as many overseas bases as all other countries combined.” Those U.S. bases abroad “cost taxpayers an estimated $55 billion annually.”
As this autumn began, Vine noted that President Biden is “perpetuating the United States’ endless wars” in nations including “Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Yemen” while escalating “war-like tensions with China with a military buildup with Australia and the UK.”
All this is being funded via a “defense” budget?
Calling George Orwell
As Orwell wrote in a 1946 essay, political language “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” In 2021, the hot air blowing at gale force through U.S. mass media is so continuous that we’re apt to scarcely give it a second thought. But the euphemisms would hardly mean anything to those in faraway countries for whom terrifying and lethal drone attacks and other components of U.S. air wars are about life and death rather than political language.
The ubiquitous use of phrases like “defense budget” and “defense spending”—virtually always written with a lower-case “d”—reinforces the false notion that equates the USA’s humongous military operations with defense.You might consider the Pentagon’s Aug. 29 killing of 10 Afghan civilians including seven children with a drone attack to be a case of “respectable” murder, or negligent homicide, or mere “collateral damage.” Likewise, you could look at numbers like 244,124—a credible low-end estimate of the number of civilians directly killed during the “war on terror” in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq—and consider them to be mere data points or representing individuals whose lives are as precious as yours.
But at any rate, from the vantage point of the United States, it’s farfetched to claim that the billions of dollars expended for ongoing warfare in several countries are in a budget that can be legitimately called “defense.”
Until 1947, the official name of the U.S. government’s central military agency was the War Department. After a two-year interim brand (with the clunky name National Military Establishment), it was renamed the Department of Defense in 1949. As it happened, that was the same year when Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984” appeared, telling of an always-at-war totalitarian regime with doublespeak slogans that included “War Is Peace.”
Today, the Department of Defense remains an appropriately capitalized proper noun. But the department’s official name doesn’t make it true. To call its massive and escalating budget a “defense” budget is nothing less than internalized corruption of language that undermines our capacities to think clearly and talk straight.
While such corroded language can’t be blamed for the existence of sloppy thinking and degraded discourse, it regularly facilitates sloppy thinking and degraded discourse.
Let’s blow away the linguistic fog. The Pentagon budget is not a “defense” budget.
BY NORMAN SOLOMON POSTED ON OCTOBER 5, 2021
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed here are those of the individual contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the LA Progressive, its publisher, editor or any of its other contributors.
About Norman Solomon ... Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate to the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”
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