Sunday, September 12, 2010


The Democrats may lose their control of Congress in November. But they've had firm control of the White House, the House, and have held filibuster-proof supermajorities in the Senate for two years. This is not counting the fact that the Democrats had control of Congress from 2006-2008 as well.

During the time that the Democrats have had crushing majorities in the Congress, military spending has increased, while deep cuts and layoff have been made to the public sector all over the country. Democratic leaders, we do well not to forget, have recently been mulling over making deep cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

Just think about the following for a moment.

Obama's 2010 budget, titled "Restoring Responsibility" increased "official" military spending by over 6% from the bar set by Bush's 2009 budget.

That brings the total official military spending to $680 billion for 2010. If we include "defense related" spending, totaling over $300 billion, that brings the grand total very close to $1 trillion.

But wait, there's more.

As everyone knows, the US government spends billions each year in military/economic aid to, by and large, three countries: Israel, Egypt and Colombia. In the last 10 years, Israel has averaged about $2.5 billion a year, Egypt about $1.7 billion/yr and Colombia $1.5 billion/yr. Egypt and Colombia, of course, are ruled by repressive right-wing regimes who ruthlessly use state violence to insulate their governments from democratic challenges.

So add about $6 billion more to the bill. But this isn't the end of the story.

Let's not forget about the "National Endowment for Democracy". Created by Reagan in 1983, and ostensibly administered by private institutions, the NED is entirely funded by allocations from Congress, to the tune of a couple hundred million dollars a year. Obama increased the funds that the NED receives. Eva Golinger has done an excellent job of tracking the expenditures of the NED in Venezuela, where the US government routinely allocates millions of dollars to right-wing opposition candidates and oligarchs seeking to topple the Chavez government. This is basically the name of the game for the strangely named NED: destabilize societies abroad that challenge the dominance of the US empire and do the dirty-work previously undertaken by the CIA under the auspices of privately-administered "democracy building".

All of this money is spent while we're told that there is no money to spend on the things that matter. We're routinely told to accept cuts and layoffs as though they were facts of nature. We're encouraged, at every turn, to focus on the national debt and worry so much about the deficit that we are prepared to accept punishing blows to living standards, social services, public infrastructure, schools, transportation, and so on.

But we're told all of this while the US government, no matter which of the major pro-business parties holds power, spends non-negotiable sums totaling over $1 trillion each year on foreign war, occupation, weapons of mass destruction, anti-democratic aid to tyrannical governments, empire, and imperial activities abroad.

Shouldn't the people the United States, not a small ruling class of elites for whom imperial ventures abroad matter quite a deal, have a say in how this chunk of the social surplus is spent? If our society was democratic in any meaningful sense, wouldn't we have a way of impacting whether or not our government spends $1 trillion on war and occupation at the same time that it makes punishing cuts to already inadequate social institutions?

Our electoral mechanism gives us literally no say in this matter. Go ahead, select the one with the "D" or the "R", but either way the figures listed above are taken as givens.

If the Republicans take back Congress in November, what is really going to change? What will we have lost? What do the answers to those questions say about the Democrats and our system in general?

1 comment:

fwoan said...

Thankfully these expenditures are unsustainable and only hasten the end of the current phase of our so called "American experiment."