Sojourners Magazine: June 2011
"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 ..." Decades ago, President Eisenhower issued his famous warning about the excesses of what he called the "military-industrial complex." Since then, military spending has spiraled out of control, with dire consequences for our national budget, our ailing economy, and for "those who hunger," at home and abroad.
The military currently consumes around 58 percent of the discretionary budget -- and yet it continues to be the elephant in the budget-cutting room. Any effort to address our soaring deficit that does not start with the enormous Pentagon budget is doomed to fail.
For Ben Cohen, this wasn't too hard to comprehend. As co-founder of Ben & Jerry's ice cream company, he understood a thing or two about running a balance sheet, and thanks to Chunky Monkey, Cherry Garcia, and the rest, grew the company until it was worth hundreds of millions of dollars. But, as Cohen explains to Sojourners' Jim Wallis in this month’s interview, he still couldn’t fathom the concept of spending hundreds of billions on the military. He has spent much of the last decade helping people get a handle on the sheer enormity of the military budget -- and why such exorbitant overspending not only undermines our security but also is paving the way to financial ruin. It is simply unsustainable.
Many people of faith have long decried the militarism that drives such spending. But two factors have made it starkly clear that we must finally rein in this beast, and soon: the national deficit and the budget-related efforts to drastically slash programs for the poor and vulnerable, while spending billions more on the military. What would Jesus cut? He'd probably start with the Pentagon.