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Daily Cougar: Stopping WMDs starts at home

by Matt ClementThe Daily Cougar
October 5th, 2004

Looking back, when Jesus asked people to care for their neighbors and communicate with strangers, the world was presented with a revelation. Although other people were saying similar things, these ideas were revolutionary for that time; thus, the world began experiencing a major paradigm shift.

Such a change in vision is what is needed for the world right now.

Specifically, manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction must cease, especially the production of nuclear weapons. A few individuals who obviously do not represent the mindset of the majority are manufacturing these weapons and should stop their production. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and TRW are a few of the corporate loons who do not stray from the well-established capitalist pathology.

In 1961, Dwight Eisenhower said, "In the counsels of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex ... We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes." This combination continues to threaten democracy today. Ironically and tragically, military buildup followed the end of the Cold War.

In 1996, the total U.S. defense budget was nearly $280 billion; by 2004 it reached slightly above $460 billion. While the Defense Department says the 2005 budget will be reduced to $420 billion, by 2009 this figure is expected to be back up into the $460 billion range (in 2005 dollars).

To put this in perspective, in 2002 Russia ranked second behind the United States in defense dollars, spending around $65 billion. Next was China with $47 billion, and fourth was Japan at nearly $43 billion.

When it comes to nuclear weapons, the United States has no competition. As of 1996, the U.S. nuclear stockpile included 9,170 strategic warheads, while Russia had 7,622. Meanwhile, Britain, France and China had hundreds of nuclear warheads. According to the Brookings Institution, between 1940 and 1996 the United States spent just over $5 trillion on nuclear weapons programs.

About these trends, retired U.S. Navy Adm. Eugene Carroll Jr. said, "For 45 years of the Cold War we were in an arms race with the Soviet Union. Now it appears we're in an arms race with ourselves."

Getting close to the truth, Carroll just misses that an "arms race with ourselves" is essential for an empire to grow. The empire must impose its military might on the world. As of 2003, according to the Department of Defense, the United States had 702 military installations in foreign countries and 96 in U.S. territories. By 2004, the number of installations in foreign countries and U.S. territories increased to 860 and 115 respectively.

The military-industrial complex, therefore, keeps the empire on its feet. It helps the empire spread its military might around the world while it creates profit for those who manufacture the weapons so that might can be effective. Lockheed Martin is the largest and most profitable weapons manufacturer in the world, but only because of the generosity of the American taxpayer. This is the essence of the military-industrial complex. The nonprofit CorpWatch reported that Lockheed Martin gets $105 from each U.S. taxpayer and $228 from each U.S. household. In 2002 the company was effectively taxed at 7.7 percent compared to an average tax rate for individuals of 21 percent to 33 percent.

Despite the money, Lockheed Martin's contribution to the buildup has not protected America from its ultimate enemy -- the terrorist. The billions of dollars spent on defense could not defend against the horrible destruction witnessed on 9/11. Dick Cheney said, "The biggest danger we face today is having nuclear weapons fall into the hands of terrorists. The President is working with many countries in a global effort to end the trade and transfer of these deadly technologies."

To be clear, Cheney is not proposing a new vision for humanity. His plan is not for disarmament; his plan is to maintain the outdated and destructive military-industrial complex. At what cost? More than 1,000 American soldiers have died in the Iraqi occupation. This is the military-industrial complex: the deaths of brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, fathers and mothers.

Not to minimize their suffering, but there is another important point. On a daily basis, in an average routine, humans do not attack each other. It is not a miracle that those reading these words do not at this very instant punch the closest individual. It is not a miracle that the finger was probably the only thing given to the indecent driver this morning. It is not a miracle because humans are generally nonviolent.

Leaders devote so much energy and so many resources to producing something that does not even fit the general pattern of human behavior. They can do this only because the production of weapons of mass destruction is phrased in positive terms. Since humans are generally nonviolent, leaders can only influence us to go to war if that war will ultimately bring good, not bad, to humanity.

So, a new vision is needed; a new paradigm in thinking should emerge. It should encourage humanity to act on behalf of their nonviolence. Humans should act in a way that prevents the Lockheed Martins and Cheneys of the world from leading us onto a path of self-destruction. The new vision should stop the estimated $5 trillion spent on nuclear weapons, and put that money in more life-sustaining investments. Try to imagine $5 trillion worth of playgrounds for children.
Or was that the same thing Jesus had in mind?






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