FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Praying for Peace While Waging Permanent War?

by

Memorial Day is, by federal law, a day of prayer for permanent peace.   But is it possible to honestly pray for peace while our country is far and away number one in the world in waging war, military presence, military spending and the sale of weapons around the world?

Permanent War

Since 1980 the US has engaged in aggressive military action in 14 countries in the Islamic world alone, according to research published in the Washington Post: Iran (1980, 1987-1988), Libya (1981, 1986, 1989, 2011), Lebanon (1983), Kuwait (1991), Iraq (1991-2011, 2014-), Somalia (1992-1993, 2007-), Bosnia (1995), Saudi Arabia (1991, 1996), Afghanistan (1998, 2001-), Sudan (1998), Kosovo (1999), Yemen (2000, 2002-), Pakistan (2004-) and now Syria. In this hemisphere, US military forces invaded Grenada (1983) and Panama (1989), and landed 20,000 military forces in Haiti (1994).

US Global War Machine

The US has 1.3 million people in the military and another million serve in the military reserves. The US has over 700 military bases in 63 countries across the world deploying over 255,000 US military personnel there. The Department of Defense officially manages over 555,000 buildings on 4400 properties inside the US and in over 700 properties across the globe.   The US has over 1500 strategic nuclear warheads, over 13,000 military aircraft, dozens of submarines, many of which carry nuclear weapons, and 88 huge destroyer warships.

Global Harm

Nearly 7000 US military people died as a result of the wars waged by the US since 9/11. Just as important, in Iraq over 216,000 combatants, most of them civilians, have died since the 2003 invasion.  No one even counted civilian deaths in Afghanistan for the first five years of our war there. Our drone attacks have murdered hundreds of children and hundreds of civilian adults in Pakistan and dozens more in Yemen.

World Leader in War Spending

US military spending is about the same as the total of military spending by the next eight largest countries combined, that is more than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, UK, India and Germany combined.

Since 9/11 US spending on our military cost well over $3 trillion. Direct combat and reconstruction costs for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11 have officially cost US taxpayers $1.6 trillion dollars according to the Congressional Research Service.   Additional trillions have been spent on growing the Pentagon budget and for present and future increased health and disability benefits for veterans.

The US military captures 55 percent of our national discretionary spending and spending on veterans benefits is another 6 percent. Since 9/11 military spending has increased by 50 percent while spending on other discretionary domestic spending increased by 13 percent according to the National Priorities Project.

Corporate War Profiteers

With these trillions being spent on war, there are legions of corporations profiting.

The number one war profiteer is Lockheed Martin, according to USA Today, with annual arms sales of $36 billion. Not surprisingly Lockheed Martin spends over $14 million a year lobbying the people who make the decisions about how much money is spent on weapons and which weapons will be purchased. Their CEO is paid over $15 million, according to their 2015 shareholder report, and on their board is James Ellis, a former Admiral and Commander in Chief of US Strategic Air Command, who gets paid over $277,000 for the part time work and James Loy, former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, who gets over $260,000 for his part time work. Lockheed receives substantial government contracts amounting, by one calculation, to over $260 from each taxpaying household in the US. They are so entitled that a 2014 special investigation by the US Department of Energy found Lockheed used taxpayer funds to lobby for more taxpayer funds.

Number two war profiteer is Boeing with annual arms sales of $31 billion. Boeings spends over $16 million a year lobbying. The rest of the top ten corporations profiting from war include BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Raytheon, EADS, Finmeccanica, L-3 Communications, and United Technologies. You can track their corporate contributions to members of Congress, especially the politicians on the Appropriations Committees of the House and Senate on Open Secrets.

While most of the lobbying money has gone to Republicans, all the arms merchants hire lobbyists who can influence Democrats and Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

And these war profiteers do not just sell to the US government. The US sold more than $26 billion in weapons to foreign nations and has been number one for a long time though recently that title has been going back and forth with Russia as to which is the world biggest international arms merchant.

What To Do

On April 4, 1967, in his famous Riverside Church address, Martin Luther King Jr. said the US government was the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. In response he called for a true revolution of values. This revolution calls us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies including war and the contrast of wealth and poverty in our own country and across the world.

Former US President and General Dwight Eisenhower warned citizens as he left office of the growing military industrial complex. He saw the influence of the war machine and urged all citizens to be alert and force “the huge industrial and military machinery of defense” to respond to democracy and the peoples’ desires for peace.

What must we do? First, we must learn the facts and face the truth that the US is the biggest war maker in the world. Second, we must commit ourselves and organize others to a true revolution of values and confront the corporations and politicians who continue to push our nation into war and inflate the military budget with the hot air of permanent fear mongering. Third, we must admit what our country has been doing wrong and we must make amends for the violence the US has waged on countries all over our world. Fourth, we must withdraw our military from all other countries, dramatically downsize our military, disarm our nuclear weapons, and truly stick to defending our own country. Fifth, we must work for peaceful, just solutions for conflict here at home and across our world. Only when we work for the day when the US is no longer the world leader in war will we have the right to pray for peace on Memorial Day.

Bill Quigley teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans.  A version of this with sources is available.  He can be reached at: Quigley77@gmail.com

 

 

Bill Quigley teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans and can be reached at quigley77@gmail.com.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 19, 2017
Melvin Goodman
America’s Russian Problem
John W. Whitehead
Nothing is Real: When Reality TV Programming Masquerades as Politics
Yoav Litvin
Time to Diss Obey: the Failure of Identity Politics and Protest
Mike Whitney
The Trump Speech That No One Heard 
Conn Hallinan
Is Europe Heading for a “Lexit”?
Stephen Cooper
Truth or Twitter? Why Donald Trump Is No John Steinbeck
Binoy Kampmark
Scoundrels of Patriotism: The Freeing of Chelsea Manning
Ramzy Baroud
The Balancing Act is Over: What Elor Azaria Taught Us about Israel
Josh Hoxie
Why Health Care Repeal is a Stealth Tax Break for Millionaires
Kim C. Domenico
It’s High Time for a Politics of Desire
Shamus Cooke
Inauguration Day and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
More and More Lousy
David Swanson
Samantha Power Can See Russia from Her Padded Cell
Kevin Carson
Right to Work and the Apartheid State
Malaika H. Kambon
Resisting the Lynching of Haitian Liberty!
January 18, 2017
Gary Leupp
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Charles Pierson
Drone Proliferation Ramps Up
Ajamu Baraka
Celebrating Dr. King with the Departure of Barack Obama
David Underhill
Trumpology With a Twist
Chris Floyd
Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell
Stansfield Smith
Obama’s Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Ron Leighton
Trump is Not Hitler: How the Misuse of History Distorts the Present as Well as the Past
Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
NATO and Obsolescence: Donald Trump and the History of an Alliance
Zarefah Baroud
‘The Power to Create a New World’: Trump and the Environmental Challenge Ahead
Julian Vigo
Obama Must Pardon the Black Panthers in Prison or in Exile
Alfredo Lopez
The Whattsapp Scandal
Clancy Sigal
Russian Hacking and the Smell Test
Terry Simons
The Truth About Ethics and Condoms
January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump, It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail