A Militarized Economy Cannot Balance the Budget

We can’t afford our bloated military budget and still have democracy.

By John Perkins

“Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose.” -Eisenhower, 1961 Military Industrial Speech

While we send our love and support to those so horribly impacted by the earthquake and tsunami, we must not allow this shock to divert us from the tsunami headed our way. Our business and political leaders will try to use this terrible catastrophe as a diversion to hoodwink us into budgetary reductions that will fatten their wallets and leave us and our children devastated.

 It does not matter on what side of the political fence you sit during the current budget debates. The fact is if our leaders are not willing to take into account our over-dependence on a militarized economy and change it, we will never balance the budget. Our progeny will face an endless struggle to clean up the debris.

Each year the Department of Defense’s tidal wave grows more menacing. We witness countless billions allocated for weapons research and development; nuclear warheads; and the secret and often illegal activities of the CIA, NSA, FBI, Homeland Security and other “intelligence” agencies. We watch countries that are caught up in natural disasters and political upheavals and see how this “crisis elixir” attracts and profits predatory capitalists.

And they have the gall to do this under the guise of promoting democracy.

It is time for us to tell them they are exposed, we comprehend what they are really doing is reaping huge profits and making other nations their financial servants for generations to come. Meanwhile, at home, we face severe cutbacks in social services, transportation, health care, the environmental and educational sectors and other civil services.

Now is the time for us – you and me – to let our leaders know we are no longer duped by their rhetoric. We understand they cannot bring our financial house to order without significant reductions in military spending. This includes calling our troops back from the Middle East and Afghanistan.

In 1961, President Eisenhower said, “As we peer into society’s future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.” There is a very sad irony in those words. We need to let those who have followed Ike’s footsteps to the halls of power in Washington know we understand the relevance of those words in regard to today’s economic and military crises.

The United States accounts for almost 50 percent of the world’s total military spending; yet our share of the world’s GDP is less than 25 percent. This official budget does not take into account money secretly allocated to the “black budgets” of the Pentagon, CIA and other clandestine operations.

We must all ask ourselves:

How can a nation that prides itself on government “of, for, and by the people,” justify hiding these black budget allocations from taxpayer scrutiny? How can a nation continue to prosper by ignoring its own long-term demise at the hands of a militarized economy?

If we want a real democracy to survive for generations to come, then we must demand extensive military reductions. We must demand a peaceful and sustainable path for our country and world at large. We must bring our soldiers home. We must protect ourselves from the tsunami that is building on Wall Street and in the halls of Washington.

About John Perkins

John Perkins is the author of bestsellers Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, The Secret History of the American Empire, and the new book, Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets Imploded – and What We Need to Do to Remake Them, among others.

Perkins is a founder and board member of Dream Change and the Pachamama Alliance, nonprofit organizations devoted to creating a stable, sustainable and peaceful world. He has lectured and taught at universities on four continents. He tweets as @economic_hitman.

Check his website for upcoming events JohnPerkins.org.

Talkback Readers: Can we afford to cut the military budget? Can we afford not to? Weigh in on Talkback!

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