For all the impressive ways Joe Biden has begun his first two and a half months in office, we must remember the ship of state is not a speedboat.
It’s more like an ocean liner.
Reversing decades of bellicose foreign policy is and has always been presidents’ albatross.
While we can agree having Joe Biden in the Oval Office is a major improvement from his predecessor, it’s unlikely Biden is going to willingly draw down our military expenditures, especially the nuclear arsenal.
According to a recent Federation of American Scientists (FAS) report, the United States is acquiescing to lobbying pressure in its construction of a $100 billion “ground-based strategic deterrent (GBSD)” nuclear missile.
This is intentionally less than the “Minuteman III,” distributed in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming.
This isn’t merely a matter of military might.
It’s also a jobs program.
The FAS report, “Siloed Thinking,” states:
“It is becoming increasingly clear that there has not been a serious consideration of what role these cold war-era weapons are supposed to play in a post-cold war security environment.”
But they’re making military contractors very happy.
Last year, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin were granted an uncontested $13.3 billion bid for the GBSD’s engineering, manufacturing, and development.
This is expected to balloon to $264 billion in the upcoming decades.
In the midst of the worst pandemic in a century, the highest level of racial unrest in 50 years, elevated threats of domestic terrorism, a climate crisis threatening all planetary life, and 1920s-level income inequality, we are willing to rubber-stamp at least a trillion dollars over the next three decades to refurbish our nuclear arsenal.
Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund president Kevin Martin, writing in Common Dreams, said:
“Let’s instead beat them to the punch and call it what it is, the Omnicider, as a nuclear war involving such missiles, which would carry warheads tens or hundreds of times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb which killed over 140,000 people, could end all life on Earth. And even more importantly, let’s ditch it, scrap the entire ICBM leg of the nuclear weapons triad (the most insecure and destabilizing leg, nuclear submarines and long-range bombers being the other two legs), and proceed to rid the planet of these accursed weapons, including signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.”
“The GBSD has an initial price tag of $100 billion, with an entire life cycle cost of $264 billion, and that is likely too low. When was the last time a large weapons system came in under budget? Chirp, chirp, chirp go the crickets.”
Sébastien Roblin, writing for THINK, explains:
“The bottom line is that the deterrence behind mutually assured destruction is already maintained by America’s nuclear forces. It’s a stretch to think that marginally better missiles would discourage a foreign leader from initiating a nuclear strike any more than the current force. And acquiring them would commit huge sums far into the future to a force that is arguably increasingly obsolete.
“American security will be better served if those dollars go to military capabilities it can actually use or to public investments in pandemic prevention and infrastructure or similar safety measures, rather than be invested in the specter of a modestly upgraded nuclear Armageddon.”
From 2016-2020, the United States was responsible for 37% of global arms sales to 96 countries.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) stated nearly half those sales went to Middle Eastern countries, particularly Saudi Arabia.
Might that at least in part have something to do with Joe Biden’s refusal to sanction Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after proof of Prince Mohammed‘s complicity in Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi‘s murder and dismemberment nearly three years ago?
Last month, House of Representatives Defense Spending Reduction Caucus co-chairs Barbara Lee (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Jake Auchincloss (D-MA9) authored a letter 50 of their House colleagues signed urging President Biden to reduce the Pentagon’s budget in the forthcoming proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget.
Rep. Lee states:
“As we face a global pandemic and unprecedented economic crisis, the needs of American families far outweigh the need to continue feeding our bloated military defense budget. Analysis from experts across the political spectrum show that we can make significant cuts to our defense budget without compromising our national security or reducing the support, pay or benefits provided to our men and women in uniform and their families. This issue has broad based support from faith groups, conservatives and progressives alike. As Co-chairs of the Defense Spending Reduction Caucus, we are calling on the President to rebalance our priorities to build a safer, peaceful, and more prosperous world, at home and abroad.”
Rep. Pocan adds:
“We cannot build back better if the Pentagon’s budget remains just as large as it was under Donald Trump. This crisis has proven that American national security should not be defined by the number of nuclear weapons collecting dust in storage, but by healthcare security, job security, housing security—the security of working families surviving with a roof over their heads, food on the table and money in the bank. We have a duty to invest in the American people more than we invest in defense contractor profits and Pentagon slush funds.”
Rep. Auchincloss asserts:
“As the United States pivots away from the failed forever wars, our generation needs to lay down a marker for the Pentagon. We can defend America and protect the global commons without the Trump increases to the budget. You don’t have to be a veteran to know that the defense budget is out of control when you have a trillion-dollar fighter jet that can’t dogfight.”
We shovel more American tax money toward the military industrial complex than the next 12 countries combined.
But it isn’t a lost cause to assume we will eventually reallocate much of it toward social safety nets, anti-poverty programs, hunger elimination, and fully funded public schools instead of relying on property taxes that perpetually leave them short.
It can be done.
It should be done.
It will done.
But it won’t be if we don’t demand our lawmakers begin steering the ship of state in another direction.
Image credit: Flickr