Thursday, February 7, 2008

I Love My Country, But I Fear My Government

This is National Public Radio. Today on Morning Edition it aired a story on the Pentagon's proposed defense budget. At over three-quarters of a trillion dollars, it is the highest it's ever been since World War II. Here's why.

This is the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fighter jet. After 25 years of development and a cost of approximately $60 billion, the F-22 has finally reached what the Air Force calls "full operational capability." Each F-22 costs about $300 million, and was specifically designed to fight the Soviets in air-to-air combat. Yet with two wars going on, the F-22 has yet to fly a single mission in either.

This is the Taliban, our enemies in the Afghanistan War. The Taliban does not own a single fighter jet. Nor are they likely to ever own a fighter jet.

These are Iraqi insurgents, our current enemies in the second Iraq War. The Iraqi insurgents do not own a single fighter jet. Nor are they likely to ever own a fighter jet.

This is Al-Qaeda, with leader Osama Bin Laden in white, our enemies in the larger Global War on Terror. Al-Qaeda does not own a single fighter jet. Nor are they likely to ever own a fighter jet.

Despite all this, Lockheed-Martin's F-22 fighter program is still very much alive, along with many other big-ticket items which analysts estimate make up about 50% of the Pentagon's regular annual budget. Even though they have almost no value when it comes to anti-terrorism efforts, they are all de facto items when it comes to creating the military's budget.

This is the Pentagon's proposed budget for 2008. It totals $769 billion and is larger than all other countries' defense budgets combined. Yet our military troops are the smallest they have ever been since the end of World War II. And our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan still lack basic equipment such as body armor, and everyday necessities like sunscreen, toothpaste, deodorant, lip balm, soap, shampoo, shaving cream, razors, gloves, socks, pocket calculators, snack food, you name it. You can send a care package to a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan through

This is President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the first military general to serve as President of the United States in the 20th century. Shortly after his inauguration in 1953 he stunned Congress by advocating deep cuts in military spending. He said, "To amass military power without regard to our economic capacity would be to defend ourselves against one kind of disaster by inviting another." Eight years later in his 1961 farewell address, he also warned the nation against the unchecked growth and influence of a vast "military-industrial complex." You can watch the video of his prescient address here.

If you're not scared yet, you just haven't been paying attention.

You can listen to NPR's entire report here. Once you do, you can express your disagreement, frustration and horror with the whole damned mess here.

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