What a Stronger Defense Industry Would Really Look Like

By David Swanson

To the Editor: New York Times, March 20

Peter Navarro’s op-ed “Why America Needs a Stronger Defense Industry” argues that “Investing in the sector means more jobs at home and improved security abroad.” He praises the construction of tanks used in wars in Iraq.

Here is a study demonstrating that military spending produces fewer jobs than other types of public spending, or even than not taxing money from working people in the first place:

“The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update,” Political Economy Research Institute, https://www.peri.umass.edu/publication/item/449-the-u-s-employment-effects-of-military-and-domestic-spending-priorities-2011-update

So, the more jobs at home claim is false. What about the “improved security abroad” and the labeling of the weapons industry as “defense”?

Tanks have no more function against a foreign invasion than they do against hijackers of airplanes or against mass-shooters in schools or against climate collapse. Thus “defense” is twisted into the vague concept of “security abroad.” Yet, clearly most U.S. travelers abroad are not going to be accompanied by tanks.

A review of the data has concluded that: (https://peacesciencedigest.org/military-support-and-an-increased-vulnerability-to-terrorist-attacks/ ) “Deployment of troops to another country increases the chance of attacks from terror organizations from that country. Weapons exports to another country increase the chance of attacks from terror organizations from that country. Ninety-five percent of all suicide terrorist attacks are conducted to encourage foreign occupiers to leave the terrorist’s home country.”

If facts are insufficient, let’s appeal to authority. On February 27, 2017, President Donald Trump said, “Almost 17 years of fighting in the Middle East . . . $6 trillion we’ve spent in the Middle East . . . and we’re nowhere, actually if you think about it we’re less than nowhere, the Middle East is far worse than it was 16, 17 years ago, there’s not even a contest . . . we have a hornet’s nest . . . .” (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/02/27/trump_we_spent_6_trillion_in_middle_east_and_we_are_less_than_nowhere_far_worse_than_16_years_ago.html )

An actually defensive defense industry would not resemble the current one. There have been no recorded terrorist attacks driven by resentment at the provision of aid. A tiny fraction of U.S. military spending could end starvation on earth. (“The World Only Needs 30 Billion Dollars a Year to Eradicate the Scourge of Hunger,” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2008/1000853/index.html ) Doing so would actually increase security, not to mention actually helping people — if anyone cares about such things when they don’t help start wars.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio.He is a 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Swanson was awarded the 2018 Peace Prize by the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation. Longer bio and photos and videos here. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook, and sign up for:

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