Time to Empty Your Pockets

Written by: Terry Link

Primary Source : Possibilitator,  November 23, 2018

I just made my self read the nine page “Executive Summary” of the recently (November 14) released Providing for the Common Defense: The Assessment and Recommendations of the National Defense Strategy Commission . It was all I could do to keep from gagging. I won’t put myself through the full 116 pages, especially as I scanned the make-up of the commission and the list of those who gave testimony. It’s definitely the swamp.

The message briefly is this: Be Afraid!!  Be Really Afraid!!!  Every corner of the planet has some state or terrorist out to get us and the only way to prevent this is for us to build a bigger military industry with lots of technological gizmos as fast as we can. Nary a word about personnel. No mention of earlier concerns (before Trump administration) about the role of climate change. No hint that increased diplomacy might reduce these alarming fears. Simply our already bloated military footprint needs to be bigger.

Having recently finished Harvard Professor of International Relations Stephen Walt’s, The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy (2018) an insightful read into the foreign policy establishment since WWII, this playbook is perfectly predictable.

The Hell of Good Intention book cover

If this passes as leadership and our spineless Congress bows adoringly to everything military ( to do otherwise would be to be seen as either unpatriotic or weak on defense – big political no-no), you can bet that Republicans and too many Democrats will not raise taxes to cover these costs, but rather will cut funding for health care, environmental protection, transportation, infrastructure, renewable energy, etc.

Ironically, a report was released at nearly the same time last week from Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs that looked at the cost of our wars since 9/11 and shows the bill comes in at $5.9 Trillion. Most of the folks on the commission or giving testimony have been either making the policy or otherwise supportive of one that has given us “17 years of fighting; thousands of US soldiers killed and many thousands more injured; hundreds of thousands of civilians killed; millions of refugees; and the costs go on.”

I have been meaning to go back and read the similar playbook that accompanied George W. Bush into the White House from the Project for a New American Century. How coincidentally that the title of their playbook, which included attacking Iraq even before 9/11, was titled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses”, another militaristic approach to foreign policy. And where did that get us????

We need to call this out, stand up to robbing our treasury to fund the arms lobby, and seek to develop a world order built on the rule of law, diplomacy, sustainable development, and shared leadership. The American empire project will end. If we follow the militarists it will end a lot uglier than if we build trust, cooperation, and address our shared challenges – climate change, growing income inequality, adequate health care access, clean water, good food and livelihoods for all.

We should be putting our shoulders together to address the Sustainable Development Goals all United Nations member states have agreed to. Throwing money at the military is a fool’s errand.

Sustainable Development Goals chart from United Nations



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Terry Link
Terry Link is a retired MSU librarian, former founding director of the MSU Office of Campus Sustainability, and co-founder and former chair of the American Library Association’s Task Force on the Environment. He recently served as associate editor for the two-volume encyclopedia, Achieving Sustainability: Visions, Principles, and Practices(Gale/Cengage 2014). He has also served as executive director of a regional food bank and as a county commissioner. Currently he is president of Starting Now, LLC, a sustainability consulting firm, a Senior Fellow for the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and serves on numerous non-profit organization boards.
Terry Link

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