Nicholas Kristof‘s December 25 column talks about The Big (Military) Taboo. Excerpt:
I’m a believer in a robust military, which is essential for backing up diplomacy. But the implication is that we need a balanced tool chest of diplomatic and military tools alike. Instead, we have a billionaire military and a pauper diplomacy. The U.S. military now has more people in its marching bands than the State Department has in its foreign service — and that’s preposterous.
What’s more, if you’re carrying an armload of hammers, every problem looks like a nail. The truth is that military power often isn’t very effective at solving modern problems, like a nuclear North Korea or an Iran that is on the nuclear path. Indeed, in an age of nationalism, our military force is often counterproductive.
Paradoxically, it’s often people with experience in the military who lead the way in warning against overinvestment in arms. It was President Dwight Eisenhower who gave the strongest warning: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” And in the Obama administration, it is Defense Secretary Robert Gates who has argued that military spending on things large and small can and should expect closer, harsher scrutiny; it is Secretary Gates who has argued most eloquently for more investment in diplomacy and development aid.
There are a few signs of hope in the air. The Simpson-Bowles deficit commission proposes cutting money for armaments, along with other spending. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled a signature project, the quadrennial diplomacy and development review, which calls for more emphasis on aid and diplomacy in foreign policy.
“Leading through civilian power saves lives and money,” Mrs. Clinton noted, and she’s exactly right. The review is a great document, but we’ll see if it can be implemented — especially because House Republicans are proposing cuts in the State Department budget.
Active links added above. Read the whole thing here.
Our guess — no. Even if somebody grows a pair, and change all that needs changing, it is political harakiri. You will die a very painful death where you will be called a bunch of nasty names all the way to your graveyard, and even as they shovel dirt over you. And then you die. And life as we know it, will go on as the world turns.
We’ve become a great cynic in my odd years of old. We think that diplomacy will remain a pauper and the billionaire military complex is here to stay. And we will fight these forever wars, until, well — until they take away all our checks and all our credit cards. And when nobody is willing to accept our IOUs anymore. That would make us very poor and very sad.
Not our fault we’re feeling so totally purple blue these days. It’s this awful cold weather and this Kristof talking on and on about this old taboo. The new year is just around the corner and we can’t even feel festive about the military pork set aside for our home states? Ay caramba!
Meanwhile, former UN Ambassador John Bolton, who is reportedly one of those eying the wide Republican field for 2012 has something important to say about the defense budget and the ballooning deficit: Via
“I think you’ve got to be just as much on the outlook for waste and fraud on defense spending as anywhere else, but the fact is we’re entering a very uncertain period in the world. We’ve got a lot of threats out there that we’re not prepared for. Not just nuclear proliferation, but chemical and biological weapons…. This is not the time to cut back. I understand there’s a lot of pressure to get deficits down. I’m all in favor of it. But national security comes first, pure and simple, as far as I’m concerned.”
Now that absolutely just cheer us up. Cut everything — schools, health care, medicare, etc. etc. etc. Everything. EXCEPT the untouchable pot of gold — in the name of defense.
Pray tell, who’s going to defend us from ourselves?