The pentagon receives half a trillion dollars in taxpayers’ money each year, but it’s still not enough according to William Hartung, the Director of Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy.
Hartung presented Profits of War: The Military Industrial Complex and the High Price of Defense on Keene State College campus Thursday, April 9, in Morrison Hall. He stated that he believes the pentagon spends too much money on military purposes and not enough on diplomatic issues.
He presented information about the military budget and how, in 2010, the budget was the highest it’s been since World War II and how the budget has grown each year for ten years.
The United States spends seven times as much money as Russia on its military and three and half times what China spends, according to Hartung.
Hartung said, “We might as well just write them [the pentagon] a check” because of how much of taxpayers’ money goes to military use.
He continued to bring up the issue of this over-spending and how it undermines America’s defense.
Hartung claimed that only a small piece of the military spending goes to current conflicts
such as ISIS and, instead, covers the globe in creating military strategies for each country.
He said that only about five billion dollars is spent on ISIS and that’s only about one percent of the money the pentagon receives as a whole.
Hartung explained how the pentagon is also wasting money on bureaucracy.
There are about a million soldiers in uniform and an enormous bureaucracy behind them that aren’t contributing to supporting soldiers in the field, he said.
Hartung referred to President Eisenhower’s farewell address in 1961 that bumped up against military industrial complex.
“For Eisenhower, it wasn’t just about the money. He believed there was a corrosive effect that was pervasive throughout the society and really his concern was that the vibrancy of our democracy was at stake,” Hartung said.
He said he finds this speech important because Eisenhower was very concentrated on democracy, which Hartung believed was much more important than military weapons, and the best way to defend the country.
To fix this problem, Hartung said he believes there should be financial penalties and a rebalance of the foreign policy budget.
Hartung ended his hour-long lecture with a flood of questions, comments and mixed opinions from the audience.
Eric Zulaski, who is part of the campaign Governing Under The Influence, also spoke in the presentation by explaining what the campaign is.
“We train residents in the craft of what we call bird dogging. So when a presidential candidate is going to be a town hall meet and people assemble to ask questions we have someone in the audience who’s ready to ask a question like, ‘What are you going to do about this?’” Zulaski said.
Zulaski passed out leaflets to the audience which read, “Lawmakers say they’re trying to keep us safe. In reality it’s just politics as usual with a few wealthy corporations using their profits to influence government decisions that feed their bottom line- and waste billions of your tax dollars.”
Richard Hersom, who said he was over 65 and student at KSC, attended the event for his class, Building a Better Society.
Hersom said he was receiving extra credit from his professor for attending the event and writing a one page paper about it.
He said that in addition to the extra credit, he finds the topic of discussion interesting, which is why he really attended the event.
Zulaski said to become a bird dog for democracy and make your voice heard, visit GUI.afsc.org.
Savanna Balkun can be contacted at email@example.com