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$700 Billion US War Budget for 2018 gets Bipartisan support: Senators Stabenow and Peters get guarantees for Michigan weapons contractors

September 26, 2017

Language used by those in power is always instructive. The US Department of Defense used to be called the US Department of War, which is a more honest description, since there is little in the war budget for defense.

The US has military bases in over 150 countries, totally some 900 bases, with nuclear weapons in several of these countries. The US has been engaged in warfare, in some form or another – overt war, covert war, proxy war, drone war, the drug war, etc – ever since the country was founded. The US also spends more on war and militarism than the next top ten country military budgets, combined.

The budget for the US Department of War is no different this coming year, as Congress just passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018. The House of Representatives passed the near $700 Billion budget request by a margin of 344 to 81, while the Senate was near unanimous, passing the war budget by a margin of 89 – 8

US militarism has always been a bi-partisan affair, but it is more than just an allocation for US militarism abroad, it is also a collective statement that says, Congress is will to spend money on war and militarism abroad, but not on housing, education and other social services at home. The US military budget always surpasses domestic spending and as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr once said:

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

Looking at some of the reasons why members of Congress would agree to spend $700 billion on war and militarism is also very instructive. Lets look at what both Michigan Senators had to say about why they voted for a $700 billion war budget.

Michigan Senator Gary Peters posted a statement on his website saying

Our country faces constantly evolving threats, and it is vital that our brave men and women in uniform have the resources and support they need to safely conduct military operations and protect the homeland. I’m pleased the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act with bipartisan support, and I was proud to work to include several critical provisions that will bolster Michigan’s role in our nation’s defense, promote better mental health care for service members and support small businesses that contract with the federal government.

So, does anyone really believe Peters when he says its about protecting the homeland? The other reason, making sure that Michigan businesses that make stuff for the US military are included, that seems like a credible reason. Nearly all of the “provisions” that Senator Peters included in the National Defense Authorization Act were to guarantee that Michigan-based businesses would profit from the taxpayer subsidy knows as the US military budget.

Senator Stabenow follows the same line of justification as Senator Peters, in her posted statement about why she voted for the $700 billion war budget. 

“Today, we are making a strong investment in our men and women in uniform as well as Michigan’s defense industry, which supports over 100,000 jobs and plays an important role in our nation’s security.  The defense bill includes one of my amendments to toughen up our Buy American law.  It also protects over 1,500 jobs for Michigan workers and suppliers who help build the Littoral Combat Ships at Marinette Marine Shipyard, authorizes additional funding for critical ground vehicle research at TARDEC, and provides a well-earned pay raise for our troops.  I strongly support these priorities and will continue leading the effort to protect Michigan’s defense assets and identify new opportunities that will create jobs.”

Both Michigan Senators would like us to believe that they are just looking out for Michigan workers by voting for the 2018 US war budget. However, the truth is that they voted for the $700 billion war budget because they believe in US exceptionalism and US imperialism – that the US has the right, indeed, the duty to control the resources of other countries and to make sure that other countries don’t interfere with US military and geo-political supremacy abroad.

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