In case you hadn’t noticed, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists just placed the hands on its Doomsday Clock closer to “midnight” than at any moment since it was created in 1947. Imagine that! At no time since the Cold War of the last century began have those scientific types, including 10 Nobel laureates, felt we were in more danger than… yes, this very second (and I use that word advisedly). We’re talking, in other words, about a proverbial 90 seconds to our possible… is there really any other word for it?… extinction.
One reason they did so, of course, is the war in Ukraine that shows no sign of ending and all too many signs of expanding. Consider, for instance, the Biden administration’s recent decision to send some of its most advanced M-1 tanks there, leading Germany to agree to dispatch its own Leopard 2 tanks as well. And think of those as just two more notches up in what’s functionally become this country’s ever more heated proxy war with … oops, I almost wrote the Soviet Union, but no, it’s plain old Russia now. And that’s just to begin down a list of potential dangers on this planet, including pandemics and, above all, climate change, itself on an ever — dare I say it — more heated path upward (and given a distinct helping hand by Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine).
At the risk of boring you to death, let me mention one other thing. As we learned last year, in a world of blossoming dangers, there seem to be no limits when it comes to a congressional willingness to pour endless taxpayer dollars into the military-industrial complex. The Pentagon budget that was passed as 2022 ended simply went through the roof, as retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, historian, and TomDispatch regular William Astore reminds us today. And congressional Republicans and Democrats who fight over everything else find remarkable accord on the issue. With a few exceptions, the investment of at least half of our discretionary budget in the military-industrial complex no longer seems to make anyone blink.
Oh wait, let me make an exception for Astore, too. He’s blinked again and again in these years I’ve known him. If only more of us (and of his former military compatriots) would do the same. Tom
Cutting the Pentagon Budget in Half Would Finally Force the Generals to Think
My name is Bill Astore and I’m a card-carrying member of the military-industrial complex (MIC).
Sure, I hung up my military uniform for the last time in 2005. Since 2007, I’ve been writing articles for TomDispatch focused largely on critiquing that same MIC and America’s permanent war economy. I’ve written against this country's wasteful and unwise wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, its costly and disastrous weapons systems, and its undemocratic embrace of warriors and militarism. Nevertheless, I remain a lieutenant colonel, if a retired one. I still have my military ID card, if only to get on bases, and I still tend to say “we” when I talk about my fellow soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen (and our “guardians,” too, now that we have a Space Force).Read More