Left Justified: Why do conservatives ignore military-industrial waste?

By Stanley Campbell

I got into another argument, which does not help my blood pressure.

This time, it was about cutting the military budget. All I said was, “There’s too much waste in weapons spending, and someone should look into the money wasted on the Iraq War.” I was accused of wanting to destroy America’s defense.

I was apoplectic, I couldn’t speak.

In the olden days of Vietnam War protests, I was called a communist, and that was just weeks after serving 12 months in Vietnam with the U.S. Army. Now, I am some kind of jihadist terrorist simply because I want to account for the hard-earned taxpayer dollars that go to the military?

It brought back memories of arguing with hardheaded war hawks. I was again trying to persuade military-industrialists to cut back on spending. Too many people make money working to produce tons of weapons that we hope will never be used.

There’s also tons of non-weapons stuff that’s produced to keep the Army moving (and the Army moves on its stomach). These days, most of the food service is farmed out to private enterprise, like Burger King or Pizza Hut (both big Republican donors). Of course, our previous president had everything go through his buddies at Haliburton. Before anyone gets fed, Dick Cheney gets his bite.

Why do people insist on scrutinizing a poor family’s food stamps, but refuse accounting for Haliburton’s billions? Most Republicans are fiscally conservative, except for military spending. Maybe it’s to make up for their lack of military service.

Let’s just say that one of my Republican heroes, Dwight David Eisenhower, warned us against unwarranted “defense” spending, uncontrolled military collusion with corporations, and the waste of our nation’s resources on weapons. He was a general who led the great Normandy invasion that put an end to Adolf Hitler, so he would know something about military spending.

Little-known fact, Eisenhower did not want us to get into Vietnam, but he did pay France to try to reclaim that beleaguered colony. Besides Vietnam, I think many Americans now agree we wasted lives and cash by invading Iraq. In that Middle Eastern country, corporations walked off with trainloads of cash all in the name of overthrowing a tinhorn dictator whom our country had helped prop up (another Republican, Ronald Reagan, gave Saddam lots of cash to war against Iran).

Are the corporations privatizing the military? Is it cheaper to send in subcontractors to deliver fuel, do KP (kitchen police) and build and maintain the bases? Maybe it’s a way to thank political patrons who need some government handouts. Our own congressman was able to assist a Rockford-area printer get a contract to produce Iraq “Get Out The Vote” posters, as if there weren’t any printers in the Middle East.

The conservatives are rightfully worried about welfare and health care fraud. But why do they ignore military-industrial waste and outright theft, which is 1,000 times more expensive?

  Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the May 12-18, 2010 issue

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