More Weapons Won’t Help the Peace Movement

Date:

More Weapons Won't Help the Peace Movement

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Friday, March 24, 2023
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • America hangs from an iron cross in 2023 with a large portion of the rest of the world, rocking closer to nuclear war than ever since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. Ike’s Cross of Iron Address Updated for TodayThe line from Ike’s 1953 speech that has been most frequently repeated discussed the actual price of militarism in simple, understandable terms. “

  • Without irony, the MICC of today refers to “investing” in weapons, but unlike Ike in 1953, generals, CEOs of significant weapons-producing companies, and members of Congress never bring up the lost opportunity costs of such “investments.”

  • More weapons won’t promote peace, whether in 2023 or 1953.

  • Because of this, President Biden’s proposed federal budget for 2024 was painfully predictable and incredibly disappointing.

  • The Military budget, estimated at $886 billion, would increase expenditure on weapons and wade to Biden’s proposal.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, the newly elected president and a retired five-star Army general who had commanded the D-Day landings in France in June 1944, delivered one of his most stirring speeches in April 1953. His “Cross of Iron” address would come to be known as a result. In it, Ike foresaw the prichumanitynd would have to pay if Cold War rivalry resulted in a society ruled by uncontrollable wars and weaponry. Ike offered an olive branch to the new rulers of that empire soon after Soviet dictator Josef Stalin passed away. He claimed his goal was to put the globe and America on a “route to peace.” Of course, that was never to be since this nation’s developing military-industrial-congressional complex (MICC) instead decided to construct a militarized (and highly lucrative) highway to hell.

A disappointed and worried president called out “the military-industrial complex” eight years later in his infamous parting speech, foreseeing its anti-democratic nature and the terrible development of unwarranted power that it represented. They Hconcludedon that only a vigilant and informed populace actively engaged in controlling, corralling, and restricting it could save democracy and support nonviolent strategies and objectives.

Naturally, the MICC ignored his warning and launched a brutal campaign against communism to contain it. As a result of the war’s spread, horrifying wars would be started in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. After the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991, there was a threat of possible peace; however, the MICC bided its time with operations in Iraq (Desert Storm), Bosnia, and other places, along with the expansion of NATO, until it could start an unrestricted Global War on Terror in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Such “golden times” (characterized by lost wars) they persisted until the tumultuous US pullout from Afghanistan in 2021.

The MICC seized on a “new cold war” with China and Russia as the nightmare war on terror fizzled, which only intensified in 2022 after Vladimir Putin’s disastrous invasion of Ukraine (as the United States had once invaded Afghanistan and Iraq). Again, in the name of deterrence and containment, Americans were informed that they were up against insurmountable enemies who could only be defeated by massive Military might and, of course, the finance that accompanied it.

Present problem

In a sense, Ike had been asking Americans to start a war of containment in 1953 and again in 1961, but only against an enemy within their own country: what he then referred to as, for the first time, “the military-industrial complex.” For a variety of reasons, we disregarded his advice. As a result, during the past 70 years, it has expanded to influence both the federal government and American culture significantly. Try movies, TV shows, video games, education, sports; you name it, putting aside money where it is beyond dominant. The MICC is remarkably out of control right now. Ike’s words were insufficient, and tragically, his deeds frequentlcontradictedto his intentions (such as when the CIA assisted in a coup in Iran in 1953). Hence, his biggest fear did come true. America hangs from an iron cross in 2023 with a large portion of the rest of the world, rocking closer to nuclear war than ever since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

Ike’s Cross of Iron Address Updated for Today

The line from Ike’s 1953 speech that has been most frequently repeated discussed the actual price of militarism in simple, understandable terms. “Every gun that is built, every battleship launched, every rocket fired symbolizes, in the end, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed,” he said to begin. (Side note: Can you envision Donald Trump, Joe Biden, or any other recent president openly opposing military spending and militarism?)

Ike continued:

This militarized world is not only about spending money. It is squandering the toil of its workers, the brilliance of its scientists, and the aspirations of its young people. One contemporary heavy bomber would cost more than 30 modern brick schools. It consists of two electric power plants, each serving a town with 60,000 residents. There are two excellent, fully functional hospitals. Almost fifty miles of it are made of concrete. With 500,000 bushels of wheat, we purchase one fighter jet. We replace the new dwellings that might have accommodated more than 8,000 people with one destroyer.

This is not a way of life in any meaningful sense, he said in his chilling conclusion. It is humanity hanging from an iron cross beneath the prospect of war.

Ike’s comparison of the costs of weaponry and civilian commodities, such as butter and guns, made me wonder: How might that speech sound if it were delivered today? Are we getting more military spending bang for our dollars or less? How much do Americans waste and wantonly sacrifice to their god of war?

Let’s look more closely. The B-21 Raider, one of the Air Force’s newest “heavy” strategic nuclear bombers, is expected to cost a maximum of $750 million. A reasonable estimate of $100 million is required for one brand-new fighter aircraft, the F-35 Lightning II. One Zumwalt-class Navy destroyer will cost between $4 and $8 billion, but let’s stick with the lower figure. With the aid of those tools and some fast Internet research, the following is how Ike’s passage might appear if he were here right now:

One contemporary heavy bomber would cost the equivalent of 75 contemporary reinforced concrete and brick schools. It consists of five electric power plants, each providing 60,000 residents to a municipality. There are five excellent, well-equipped hospitals there. About 150 miles of it are on pavement. More than 12 million bushels of wheat are used to cover the cost of one fighter jet. New dwellings that could have provided housing for more than 64,000 people are used to pay for a single destroyer.

(Quick and dirty numbers for the calculations above $10 million per elementary school, $150 million for each power plant [$5,000/kilowatt for 30,000 households]), $150 million per hospital, $5 million for every new mile of road, $8 for every bushel of wheat, and $250,000 for every four-person home.)

These are bleak statistics! Although they are only rough estimates, they demonstrate that the trade-off between guns and butter—bombers and jet fighters vs schools and hospitals—is much worse today than during Ike’s administration. Despite significant cost overruns, failed audits (five in a row! ), and unsuccessful wars, Congress doesn’t seem to give a damn as Military expenditures increase.

Without irony, the MICC of today refers to “investing” in weapons, but unlike Ike in 1953, generals, CEOs of significant weapons-producing companies, and members of Congress never bring up the lost opportunity costs of such “investments.” For the price of those wayward weapons and the complex that comes with them, consider honouring hospitals, schools, public transit, housing, and even bushels of wheat our nation could have now. Perish the thought of acknowledging in any meaningful way how so many of those “investments,” like the Navy’s Freedom-class littoral combat ships and Zumwalt-class destroyers, became known in the Pentagon as bad little ships,” have failed horribly.

Ike wasn’t the first to discover how expensive or what can be sacrificed in their construction, to speak of wasteful warships. H.G. Wells, the famous author who had imagined an alien invasion of Earth in The War of the Worlds, attacked his own era’s preoccupation with ironclad battleships in his prophetic book The War in the Air, first published in 1907 in a passage that eerily prefigured Ike’s potent criticism:

Wells argued that the price of such battleships must be determined by

Lives of countless men… spent in their service, the brilliant genius and perseverance of thousands of engineers and inventors, wealth and material beyond estimation; to their account, we must include stunted and starved lives on land, millions of children sent to labour excessively, and countless opportunities for an exemplary life that were unrealized and lost. During that peculiar period, it was the rule of a nation that money had to be obtained for them at all costs. They were undoubtedly the strangest, most obnoxious, most wasteful megatheria in the entire history of mechanical innovation.

He had difficulty picturing the “wasteful megatheria” of our time. The sentiment still holds today if you replace the ironclads of his time with nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles, strategic bombers, aircraft carriers, and similar “modern” armaments. (Interestingly, all those highly praised ironclads had little effect on the terrible course or protracted duration of World War 1 and did little to prevent the catastrophe.)

In 1953, when the iron cross mentality was still dominant, Eisenhower was blunt about the dangers the world faced: at worst, nuclear war; at best, “a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealth and labour of all peoples; a wasting of strength that defies the American system, or the Soviet system, or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the peoples of this earth.”

Today, the likelihood of Ike’s worst-case scenario is increasing. The START pact, the final nuclear agreement still in effect, which controlled the decrease of strategic nuclear weapons, was recently suspended by Russia. Russia, China, and the US are currently pursuing massive “modernization” initiatives for their atomic arsenals in place of reductions; this move might cost the American taxpayer almost $2 trillion over the next few decades (though even such a vast sum matters little if most of us are dead from nuclear war).

In any event, Ike’s “cross of iron” scenario is reflected in the United States in 2023. It’s a nation that has wholly militarized itself and is deteriorating with increased terror, poverty, and unhappiness.

Never Too Late to Change Your Direction

Ike once remarked that only Americans had the power to harm the United States seriously. To put it in a more positive light, only we can preserve America. Reintroducing the word “peace” to our national vocabulary is an essential first step; Ike said 70 years a that the peace we desire “may be strengthened, not by weapons of war, but by wheat and by cotton, by milk any wool, by meat any timber and rice, established upon decent confidence and cooperativendeavouror among nations. Every language on the planet can understand these words. These are the needs that are raising hell on this planet.

Since Ike’s time, humanity’s basic requirements haven’t altered. More weapons won’t promote peace, whether in 2023 or 1953. They won’t offer assistance. To paraphrase H.G. Wells, they will merely starve and stunt us while endangering the lives and futures of our children.

Ike would have pointed out that this is not a way to live if he were still living today.

Because of this, President Biden’s proposed federal budget for 2024 was painfully predictable and incredibly disappointing. Extremely so. The Military budget, estimated at $886 billion, would increase expenditure on weapons and wade to Biden’s proposal. It will include additional nuclear weapons investment and only sees escalating ongoing hostilities with “near-peer” adversaries China and Russia.

Congress increased the budget by $45 billion last year, $45 billion more than the president and the Pentagorequestedor, bringing the 2023 Pentagon budget for our nation to $858 billion. Undoubtedly, a trillion-dollar Pentagon budget is in our future as a nation, possibly as soon as 2027. If the US finds itself in a shooting conflict with China or Russia, forget how high it could go (as the recent Russian downing of a US drone in the Black Sea brought to mind). And should that conflict turn nuclear…

The Pentagon’s growing war budget sent the world a loud and frightening message. The creed of America says that people who start wars and die as martyrs on its iron cross are blessed.

Ike did not want to send this message to the world in April 1947. But that is the message the MICC is trying to get over with its outrageously inflated military spending and unending sabre-rattling.

One thing is still true today—never it’s too late to order a course correction or an “about-face.” Unfortunately, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, or any other significant candidate for president in 2024 won’t issue such an order due to their lack of the foresight of Dwight D. Eisenhower. It would have to originate from all of us. America, it’s time to grow up. It’s time to look for the on-ramp to Ike’s highway to peace and find an exit ramp from the road to hell we’ve been travelling on since 1953.

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