letter to New York Times, sent 7/22/09:
With states from California to New Jersey experiencing large budget deficits and crises, and the federal government waiting and hoping for its stimulus packages to take effect, the question is pressing as to how to reduce costs and procure monies.
Some propose cutting back human services, public institutions, or educational funding, but military and defense-related expenditures take up approximately one half of the tax dollar, more than any other.
The issue of “guns or butter,” “swords or plough shares” has faced nations and empires throughout history. These have invariably discovered that it is impossible to sustain great amounts of both. The former Soviet Union collapsed and fell apart in large measure to the incredible cost of its military and “arms race.”
In the Iraq war we have again learned, as the Soviets did in Afghanistan, how very difficult and costly it is to subdue and occupy a foreign, sovereign country.
For years informed critics have lamented unchecked Pentagon spending where seemingly anything asked for is given, sometimes without competing contracts. It has been argued that in an era when isolated terrorists can plant a bomb or fly under the radar, many of these expensive weapons are practically obsolete.
With US military bases in about 113 foreign countries, can we continue to finance a “policing” of the world when there are so many crying needs here at home?
A number of forward-looking representatives in Congress and elsewhere have proposed a reduction of Defense Department and Pentagon budgets next year by as much as one fourth. Would that not be a sensible and helpful place to begin to reduce and lessen the increasingly looming and foreboding deficits on all levels of our government and nation?
(Rev.) David W. Long