Letter: Military spending out of control

“The Force” is a chilling article in the Janury 2013 New Yorker magazine that offers a balanced and logical critique of U.S. military spending. Our military spending has become totally illogical.

From 1998 through 2011, our military spending has doubled to something north of $700 billion annually. We spend more on our military than all the other nations of the world combined!

In April 1953, revered five-star general and beloved President Dwight Eisenhower, delivered a stark speech warning of the perils of a burgeoning military industrial-complex. His warnings have ominously come true. Our military spending is robbing every U.S. citizen and is a major contributor to our colossal $16 trillion debt.

Lockheed Martin has contracts with the military worth approximately $30 billion a year and contributes some $15 million annually to 386 members of the 112th Congress. And this is just one of many military contractors. The military-industrial complex is big business — very big business. The resultant monetary/political power is simply scary.

Geographically defended by two giant oceans and staunch border allies, the United States is hardly in peril of invasion, so the question becomes why. Why do we need this much military?

The first popular answer is to “counter terrorism.” Terrorism has been successfully dispersed if not defeated and this may be the best we can hope for. Furthermore, one might deduce that our enemies are winning if we spend ourselves into oblivion.

The second answer might be to “project strength abroad.” I would ask why, but that is a topic for another day. My question today is about the need for overreaching quantity?

Do we really need 70 submarines, 12 aircraft carriers, 2,500 fighter aircraft and 300,000 troops overseas? And these are just the big-ticket items. The newest and yet-to-be constructed aircraft carrier (the new Enterprise) will cost over $20 billion and will require a crew of 6,000.

Finally, if just 10 percent of these dollars were parked at the feet of education, our national debt or mental illness, just imagine the positive implications; and maybe — just maybe — we and the greater world would be a safer/better place.

George Heard

retired petrochemical employee

Baton Rouge