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$1,200,000,000,000: What Is That?

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Figured it out yet? It's one trillion, 200 billion dollars, our taxpayer dollars that are spent for America's national security; it's the annual cost of maintaining America's military empire. It's the monstrous, bloated defense budget, the lion's share of which goes to America's massive network of bases around the world; it fuels the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. And now we can add Libya. Who's next? Maybe Syria, Yemen or how about Iran? Lots of potential new targets out there.

Of course there are those who will say that this supposed defense budget amount is simply a fabrication. So, let me direct you to this very excellent and informative article, by Chris Hellman reported in CBS News. There we learn that the base Pentagon budget funded by Congress is nearly $700 billion which includes supplementary funding for Iraq and Afghanistan. That's a lot of money but that's just the beginning.

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This excellent analysis goes on to illustrate that, with the addition of all the other associated costs such as Homeland Security, veterans benefits, federal retirees, the CIA, the National Security Agency and other areas, the total rises to $1.219.2 trillion.

Can you even begin to comprehend just how much one trillion dollars is? Think about this; one trillion dollars is one million millions. And the Pentagon needs to spend $1.2 trillion each and every year to protect America and keep us safe? Is that overkill or what? Or is that clear evidence that we must be the most paranoid nation in the entire world? It may be both. Remember the Pentagon and the military spend this amount each and every year, not in a decade. They have something none of us has; an open ended checking account balance.

How many weapons of war do we possibly need to keep America safe? How many military bases? Do we actually need the more than 750 that we currently have in 63 nations? What is it we're planning to do, fight the entire world at the same time? I think it way past the time for the U.S. to stop spreading its military all over the world, intimidating nations and their people if they do not do our bidding.

When will this president and this government grasp the economic principle of "return on investment", which is defined as "the rate of return, positive or negative, on a monetary investment?" This government has made a grave mistake by the fact that it has invested a huge portion of our wealth in the military and its world empire. The result is that this investment, instead of generating an excellent rate of return, is producing a negative return, in the sense that it has produced nothing of value but, rather, has created thousands more enemies who now seek revenge.

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We are allowing the corporate masters of war to use our taxpayer dollars to invest in a perpetual agenda of war designed to give them, personally, an enormous rate of return, generating great profits for them at the expense of the financial stability of the nation. Conversely, America has failed to invest in those areas that represent the best possible return for this nation's stability; education, infrastructure, universal health care and a host of other positive, constructive endeavors.

Why is it that I have this feeling that the Chinese government is far more intelligent and much wiser than our government when it comes to investing the wealth of its nation? Probably because they spend 1/10 of what America does on their military. They do not have to maintain hundreds of bases and they aren't engaged in any wars. Their economy is booming, they have usurped millions of jobs from our workforce, and they have become America's principal creditor.

Arnaud de Borchgrave, in the April 19 issue of the Washington Times, noted that, "With the interest on the money the United States owes China - $1.3 trillion in trade debt - the Chinese are winning friends and influencing people at breakneck speed." In addition, Rather than wasting money on wars, they are investing in building new cities, new airports, more bullet trains, and are becoming a leader in development of alternate sources of energy. And because of this wise planning they are on the way up while America is on the way down.

In an article by Oliver Stone, April 15, 2011, entitled, "Don't Betray Us Barack -- End the Empire" Stone said: "In December 1988, the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, declared the cold war over." He further said "The use or threat of force no longer can or must be an instrument of foreign policy."

Gorbachev was warning other nations, specifically the U.S., not to make the same mistakes he had made. In 1989 Gorbachev pulled 100,000 Russian troops out of that barren, desolate area of the world after they had spent 10 years attempting to conquer that nation and its people; something that numerous other invading nations had tried to do over several centuries and failed. Russia had ignored those lessons of history and by 1991 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) had become severely weakened and was dissolved.

America has had up to 100,000 troops tied up in that quagmire for most of the 10 years it has been fighting there. George W. Bush, followed by Barack Obama, also ignored the lessons of history and America is paying a horrific price for the continued occupation of that country. The U.S. is facing inevitable failure and must end that occupation. That America and President Obama are duplicating almost exactly what Russia did in Afghanistan only a few decades ago is astounding, it boggles the mind.

Gorbachev saw the handwriting on the wall, he knew Russia had no chance of winning that war; he then used logic and rational thinking and brought the troops home. Obama, without a doubt can see the handwriting on the wall but, instead of using logic and rational thinking, he is stubbornly refusing to get out of that country when all signs are telling him it is time to go.

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As this president's poll numbers continue to decline, even as he initiates his campaign for a second term, he is missing a fantastic opportunity to do a great thing for America and himself. If he would just listen to and follow the wishes of more than two thirds of the American people and end the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, he could become one of the greatest of American presidents and win a second term in a massive landslide. Does he not comprehend that he stands at one of the most critical points in America's history? That he has the power to orchestrate one of history's greatest achievements?

We the people must continue to do all we possibly can to strongly demand that President Obama and the Congress end the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and scale back the empire of military bases. Until we can somehow make this happen, we are going to be stuck with a bill of $1.2 trillion each and every year until the bank runs dry.

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Michael Payne is an independent, progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues. He is a featured writer on Opednews and Nation of Change and his articles have appeared on many other websites (more...)
 

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