Amy at Texas Faith: Profiting from war

Question by Rudolph Bush


In a recent news report Pope Francis was quoted as saying “Many powerful people don’t want peace because they live off war.” “Some powerful people make their living with the production of arms. It’s the industry of death.”

An unexploded bomb, an unused bullet, is an economic dead end to military manufacturers. America has been at war 93% of the time: 222 out of 239 years since 1776. Military cast-offs has led to the the hyper-arming of municipal police departments. Over half of the national budget goes to the military while our infrastructure crumbles and people suffer.

His comments echo those of former President Dwight Eisnehower, who warned us of the danger of a military industrial complex.

Is Pope Francis right? Is it time to reduce our war habit by reigning in arms merchants? And what role should our faith leaders play in urging leaders of free and unfree nations to resist the urge to war.

(Thanks to contributor Amy Martin for submitting this week’s question.)

Read the Panel

AMY MARTIN, President Emeritus – Earth Rhythms
Ask just about any U.S. resident if they’d rather live in a state of peace or war, they’ll choose peace every time. Is it fear that keeps us mired in military conflict? A population kept in a constant state of fearful agitation is an easily manipulated one. As human beings, we should weep at the carnage, especially the damaged and suicidal veterans, many of who swell our homeless ranks.

All these decades of military occupations and engagements — many thousands of wasted lives and trillions of wasted dollars — have not made this country any safer. Only one party benefited: military industries. It should appall us into action if we are truly pro-life. Young women and men are fighting and dying to protect Halliburton’s right to earn billions overseas, while not enhancing our defense one iota.

presidents-proposed-discretionary-spendingFor national security is no longer measured solely by military might. America will not be conquered by soldiers or terrorists, but by capitalism. To quote Admiral Mike Mullen, a past chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “The single greatest threat to our national security is our debt [to China].” The elephant in the living room we refuse to talk about is how our war habit creates that national debt.

Our military budget, projected in 2015 to be 55% of all discretionary spending, is larger than the military spending of next half-dozen countries combined, including China and Russia. Instead we carve down the debt through budget cuts to social services, urban renewal, and infrastructure that have real, even devastating, human costs compared to the piddling amount they save, as the eight dead in a recent Amtrak crash and 13 dead in the I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapse a few years ago can attest.

As outlined in the Yale University Press book The Peacekeeping Economy by UTD professor Lloyd J. Dumas, relying on the military to stimulate the economy is counterproductive, inefficient, and self-limiting. Investments in urban renewal, alternative energy, and infrastructure such as repairing and modernizing our crumbling roadways and bridges, on the other hand would invigorate the country.

As a person of faith, I hold human life to be sacred, and because my Taoist faith is rooted in the Earth I hold it sacred, too. I understand the need for national defense, true defense, but we can do better. Let’s work smarter, not just toss money around. Let’s get to root causes rather than be lost in reactions. You get what you focus on. Choose life. Across the board. Choose life.