What Our Nuclear War Budget Last Year Could Have Bought Instead; Military Industrial Complex Thinks More Weapons is the Answer to Pandemic

The Win Without War coalition tweeted out some stats from an article published recently in the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire:

The US spent $35.1B on its nuclear arsenal last year. Wanna know what $35.1B could also buy?

  • 35K Ventilators
  • 300K Intensive Care Unit Beds
  • 75K Doctors’ annual salaries
  • 150K Nurses’s annual salaries

AKA useful things, unlike a nuclear arsenal…

Also from the article:

Lawmakers have defended massive expenditure on nuclear weapons for decades, touting the safety and security they are supposed to bring to the American people. But in the midst of a global pandemic it becomes painfully clear how hollow are promises of security based on threats to use weapons of mass destruction. A virus doesn’t care how many nuclear weapons your country has. Every dime wasted on nuclear weapons could be better spent giving the American people a fighting chance against COVID-19.

This is not just a rhetorical argument. We did the math. Diverting U.S. spending on nuclear weapons for only one year would meet reported gaps in health care supplies and save lives…

…Doctors around the world see no place for nuclear weapons in this world – neither do most countries. In 2017, 122 countries adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which bans the use, production and possession of nuclear weapons. The treaty will officially take effect once an additional 14 countries ratify it. 

Well, color me shocked but the military-industrial complex is pushing a narrative that the way to address the pandemic is more arms sales. It seems ridiculous – I mean, are you going to drop a bomb on the virus? Maybe aim a rocket launcher at it? It may sound like something out of Cracked Magazine but we all know that the MIC lobbyists are all missing the shame gene as they got weapons manufacturers deemed essential businesses. From an article co-written by long-time expert on the MIC, William Hartung, at The Nation:

On one side, there’s a growing bipartisan consensus that the coronavirus has fundamentally changed the way we should think about national security. Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security adviser in the Obama White House, recently argued in The Atlantic that we have to rethink the orientation and priorities of our government, and “it makes no sense that the Pentagon budget is 13 times larger than the entire international-affairs budget, which funds the State Department, USAID, and global programs at other agencies.”

Kori Schake, the director of foreign and defense policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said the bottom line is that “we’re going to see enormous downward pressure on defense spending because of other urgent American national needs like health care.”

…If history is any indication, the military-industrial complex isn’t going down without a fight, nor is the Pentagon budget. Through their droves of lobbyists, the revolving door between the Pentagon, contractors, and Congress, and the promise of providing jobs to every Congressional district, Pentagon contractors have kept the defense budget artificially inflated for years at the expense of funding for things like the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies that can help fight disease outbreaks. And, in this new coronavirus era, they’re using the same playbook once again….

….The arms lobby is well-positioned to exert influence over Pentagon spending going forward. Hundreds of former senior government officials—645 in 2018 alone, according to the Project on Government Oversight—have gone through the “revolving door’ to work for the defense industry as lobbyists, executives, consultants, or board members. This gives them an inside track on debates over budget priorities. And, the revolving door swings both ways. The last three secretaries of defense have been a former board member of General Dynamics, a former Boeing executive, and the former chief lobbyist for Raytheon, respectively. Most importantly of all, President Trump has been the greatest champion of the arms industry, touting (and exaggerating) the number of jobs created by arms sales to countries like Saudi Arabia.

Read the full article here.

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