No benefit for human beings is more obvious than the benefit of demilitarizing the world. Every dollar spend on weaponry and war is a dollar not spent improving our lives. As Glenn Greenwald’s review of military expenditures shows, one country’s outlandish military spending is driving a worldwide spike that, if not stopped, will make the 21st century far bloodier than the 20th (which was far and away the bloodiest in human history). That country, of course, is the United States, which in 2008 will spend $623,000,000,000 — approximately $123,000,000,000 more than the rest of the world combined, nearly 10 times more than China will spend and a dozen times more than Russia. The U. S. could dramatically slash its military budget in half — to $311 billion — and still spend more than the military budgets of the next 7 biggest spenders combined: China (65 billion), Russia (50 billion), France (45 billion) , UK (43 billion), Japan (44 billion), Germany (35 billiion) and Italy (28 billiion). Wouldn’t that be enough?
The United States has virtually no domestic problem that couldn’t be quickly resolved by freeing up that much wasted spending. We could push for treaties eliminating all nuclear, biological and chemical weapons (including our own, of course) and still have the greatest military on earth many times over. Eliminating weapons of mass destruction from the world’s arsenals would make us far safer than we are today (after all, Star Wars will never be a reliable defense), save us hundreds of billions, and allow us to invest the savings in ourselves and our economic future. Yet, as Greenwald points out, the major candidates in both political parties are unwilling — probably afraid — to propose the slightest cut in military expenditures.
Unless the United States can reign in what Eisenhower called the “military-industrial-congressional complex” its status as the world’s greatest economic power will come to an end during the 21st century. And with economic collapse, its military collapse will shortly follow.
Why is it that the most Christian of the worlds great nations is also the most militaristic? What is it about church-going Christians which makes them so eager to put money into warfare? The answer, I suspect, is fear. Fearful people become Christians in the first place, and Christianity — perhaps more than other religions — preys on fear in order to gain followers. Fear of death, fear of future punishment, fear of angering God. Add to that fear of other countries, fear of one’s enemies.
The result? A self-defeating blindness that leads to a monomania of investing in armaments and armies. Even when the nation’s weaknesses lie elsewhere.