James A. Everett
To the editor:
No one knows who first said America was “the last best hope of the world,” though Lincoln used the phrase in an address to Congress in 1862 during the depths of the Civil War. In any case it has become a part of our American mythology, even though it no longer reflects what the world of today thinks about America.
Actually today America’s image is molded mostly by the Pentagon and the huge amount of money that our nation spends on the military, i.e. more than any other item except Social Security.
It is very difficult to give an exact amount because of the complexity in how we create our military budget. The Council for a Livable World just released this year’s figure of more than $635 billion. The Office of Management and Budget breaks it out thus: Department of Defense “base budget” at $525.4 billion plus $92.3 billion for overseas contingency operations. In either case that’s more than is spent by Canada, Israel, Italy, Iran, Australia, South Korea, Brazil, India, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom and China combined!
Then there are numerous other agencies that support U.S. defense activities such as $17.8 billion for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, $4.9 billion for the Justice Department’s FBI, $1.6 billion for Homeland Security and $1 billion for other miscellaneous programs.
No one, from right-wing war hawks to left-wing peace doves, wants a weak U.S. military. However, at some point pure logic indicates that we as a nation have far exceeded the limits of rationality when it comes to our military budget. Recent forced, across-the-board cuts shocked some in the Pentagon, but they are learning to live with it.