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

Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
Graham Peebles
Ethiopian’s Crying out for Freedom and Justice
Robert Koehler
Stop the Killing
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: Of Dog Legs and “Debates”
Yves Engler
The Media’s Biased Perspective
Victor Grossman
Omens From Berlin
Christopher Brauchli
Wells Fargo as Metaphor for the Trump Campaign
Nyla Ali Khan
War of Words Between India and Pakistan at the United Nations
Tom Barnard
Block the Bunker! Historic Victory Against Police Boondoggle in Seattle
James Rothenberg
Bullshit Recognition as Survival Tactic
Ed Rampell
A Tale of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits
Kristine Mattis
Persnickety Publishing Pet-Peeves
Charles R. Larson
Review: Helen Dewitt’s “The Last Samurai”
David Yearsley
Torture Chamber Music
September 22, 2016
Dave Lindorff
Wells Fargo’s Stumpf Leads the Way
Stan Cox
If There’s a World War II-Style Climate Mobilization, It has to Go All the Way—and Then Some
Binoy Kampmark
Source Betrayed: the Washington Post and Edward Snowden
John W. Whitehead
Wards of the Nanny State
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail