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Taking Our Share?

"We're already taking our share of the discretionary cuts as part of this debt-ceiling agreement, and those are going to be tough enough," said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last month.

But the military is far from taking its share of budget cuts. Before the debt ceiling agreement in early August, military spending accounted for well over half of all discretionary spending. To keep that portion from getting even bigger, the agreement would have needed to reduce military spending accordingly.

Instead, the agreement supposedly cut $350 billion in “security” spending out of a total of $917 billion, far from the 50+ percent it would need to be to keep spending percentages at their current level. But even this “cut” is unlikely.

What the campaign doesn’t mention is that the United States already spends more on its military than nearly all other countries in the world combined.

First, the cuts are only required to come from “security” for the first two years, and after that could come from any discretionary account. Worse, negotiators agreed to add other spending categories into the “security” category—so Congress can avoid making cuts to the military by dipping instead into veterans’ programs and international affairs.

Anabaptists have long stressed Jesus’ teaching that we should be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9, 5:43-48). But this peace goes well beyond our own individual relationships. We also desire that others live in peace and believe that the levels of military spending in the name of security are idolatrous.

There is great hubris in the American desire to have complete military domination. Interestingly, the public relations campaign launched by defense contractors who feel threatened by the possible budget cuts is called Second to None.

What the campaign doesn’t mention is that the United States already spends more on its military than nearly all other countries in the world combined. It also doesn’t cite the study that showed that investments in education and health care create significantly more jobs than does military spending.

Interestingly it isn’t just peace churches who are saying it’s long past time for sensible conversations about the ballooning military budget. Retired military leaders, Tea Party Republicans and liberal Democrats are all saying something similar.

This fall is a key time to contact your legislators to let them know that you support reducing military spending. Send them an email or get your whole congregation involved by requesting copies of “Invest in the future” postcards  from .

Posted: 9/9/2011 7:00:00 AM



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