The United States spends almost as much on the military as every other country in the world combined, according to Nicholas D. Kristof, writing in the The New York Times.
America Outspends Every Other Country Worldwide Combined
Here’s what Kristof reports:
• The United States spends nearly as much on military power as every other country in the world combined, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It says that we spend more than six times as much as the country with the next highest budget, China.
• The United States maintains troops at more than 560 bases and other sites abroad, many of them a legacy of a world war that ended 65 years ago. Do we fear that if we pull our bases from Germany, Russia might invade?
• The intelligence community is so vast that more people have “top secret” clearance than live in Washington, D.C.
• The U.S. will spend more on the war in Afghanistan this year, adjusting for inflation, than we spent on the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War combined.
Is Military Spending Untouchable?
These are shocking statistics. And while all the talk in Congress is of budget cuts, and fear over a rising national debt, apparently no one wants to make any changes with the military.
As Kristof points out, the president’s party is irrelevant: President Obama actually asked for about six percent more for the military this year than the amount allocated at the height of the Bush administration.
Meanwhile, 42% Of American Kids Live In Low-Income Homes
All this in a country where, as Care2′s Ann Bibby wrote a few days ago, 42% of American children live in low-income homes, and a fifth of those children live in poverty. And what about unemployment numbers, and the plight of the homeless in this country, a number that keeps rising?
There’s another issue here too: having a strong military is important, but so is diplomacy. And as Kristof also points out, the U.S. military now has more people in its marching bands than the State Department has in its foreign service.
The Example Of Greg Mortenson
American troops in Afghanistan believe strongly in investing in schools, rather than in bombs. They can see the example of Greg Mortenson, who believes investing in girls’ education yields huge returns and has put his faith, and his life, into building schools for girls in Afghanistan.
As of 2010, Greg Mortenson had established or significantly supported 171 schools in rural and often volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, which provide education to over 64,000 children, including 54,000 girls, where few education opportunities existed before.
The Need For Balance
Providing early childhood programs, boosting support for education, and developing our diplomatic tool bag, are just a few examples of how our tax money could be spent more effectively to protect United States citizens than by ploughing so much into military spending.
A strong and safe country needs more much than a powerful military presence.
Creative Commons - The U.S. Army
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