We Need to Talk About Military Spending | Sojourners

We Need to Talk About Military Spending

Moral analysis does not wait for the correct, acceptable, poll-tested moment.
Illustration of many fish swimming one way with an Ichthys or "Jesus Fish" swimming the other way
Illustration by Pete Ryan

THIS SPRING, THE Biden administration announced it was pursuing a military budget for next year that exceeds $813 billion, an increase of $31 billion over last year (which saw an increase of $32.5 billion from the year before). Among the Pentagon’s priorities, according to a Reuters report, is the expenditure of billions on new and upgraded (and nuclear-equipped) ballistic missile submarines, land-based missiles, and bombers. The Reuters reporter noted, “The budget would benefit the biggest U.S. defense contractors including Lockheed, Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N), and General Dynamics Corp.” That it will. Whether it will benefit the rest of us is another matter altogether. As President Dwight Eisenhower put it in his warning about the growing influence of what he called the “military-industrial complex,” these obscene levels of military spending are “a theft from those who hunger and are not fed.”

But ... is now the time to raise questions about military spending, in the context of Putin’s brutal adventurism in Ukraine? Shouldn’t we just hold our tongues at a time like this, even if we are deeply concerned that such spending makes the United States, and the world, less secure? Even as we see our infrastructure crumble due to an alleged lack of resources, our schools struggle to reach a minimally acceptable level of support, and so many other domestic programs and activities (the kinds of things that build real security) suffer from insufficient funding—while Lockheed/Northrop et al. are doing quite well, thank you very much? Shouldn’t we remain silent, even as we see the Pentagon billions supporting not “defense” of the people of the U.S. but rather the projection of empire around the globe?

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