We keep spending our treasure on war

by Mary Ann McGivern

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A few weeks ago Sen. Diane Feinstein wrote a New York Times op-ed saying that we don't need a new and improved nuclear cruise missile for the Navy. At about the same time, Daily Kos ran a review of the newest advances in weapons technology, leading with a quote from Will Rogers: "You can't say that civilization don't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way."

The cruise missile takes us another step toward using nukes as offensive weapons in "small" battles. The new technologies include: a "railgun" or electric canon with a hundred-mile range and a speed of about 5,000 miles per hour; laser weapons that can take out boats and drones at a cost of about a dollar a shot and can be used as well for crowd control, inflicting severe pain if you keep pressing forward; smart bullets guided by small fins for stabilization; power armor that lets soldiers carry hundreds of pounds; and of course drones, including swarms of drones and micro-drones. The list goes on. If you can imagine it, Congress will pay engineers to develop it.

Meanwhile, Congress has given the A-10 fighter a life extension because the F-35 fighter plane still doesn't meet specifications, which is a polite way of saying that it fails in test flights. The A-10 would do fine, as would the F-15 and the F-18. But we've sold them around the world, so now we want a plane that is better -- or we sold them in order to make a case that now we needed a plane that is better, at the current estimated cost of one-and-a-half trillion dollars.

I keep these articles on my browser until I can screw up the effort to write one more time about the futile waste of resources, as if we could ever actually win. I have a friend, Lloyd J. Dumas, a professor who writes about military excess. He says that the military eats up our skilled labor, our capital (production resources even more than money) and our high tech process and product. Dumas goes further. He says it's a values choice -- "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be." (Matthew 6:21) -- that the only other time in history when a society put all its labor, capital and technology into a useless product was in the Middle Ages when they built cathedrals.

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