US law officially proclaims Memorial Day "as a day of prayer for permanent peace."
However, the US is much closer to permanent war than permanent peace. Corporations are profiting from wars and lobbying politicians for more. The US, and the rest of the world, cannot afford the rising personal and financial costs of permanent war.
Number One in War
No doubt, the USA is number one in war. This coming year the US will spend 708 billion dollars on war and another $125 billion for Veterans Affairs over $830 billion. In a distant second place is China which spent about $84 billion on its military in 2008.
The US also leads the world in the sale of lethal weapons to others, selling about one of every three weapons worldwide. The USA's major clients? South Korea, Israel and United Arab Emirates.
Our country has 5 percent of the world's population but accounts for more than 40% of the military spending for the whole world.
Our nation does not respect our soldiers by engaging in permanent war. War is grinding up our children. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost over 5000 US lives and tens of thousands more lives of people in those countries. Over 20% of those in our military who served in these two wars, 320,000 people, have war-related traumatic brain injuries. Suicide rates are up by 26 percent among 18 to 29 year old male veterans in the latest Veterans Administration study. Mental health hospitalizations are now the leading cause of hospital admissions for the military, higher than injuries. On any given night, over 100,000 veterans are homeless and living on our nation's streets.
Rising Costs of War
Since 2001, the US has spent over $6 trillion (a trillion is a million millions) on war and preparations for war. That is about $20,000 for every woman, man and child in the US. Iraq and Afghanistan alone have cost the US taxpayer over a trillion dollars since 2001.
No End in Sight
Earlier this month, Marine General James Cartwright, the Vice-Chair of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Army Times that the US can expect continuing war "for as far as the eye can see."
In the name of this perpetual war against terrorism the US still jails hundreds without trial in Guantanamo, holds hundreds more in prisons on bases and in secret detention world-wide, tries to avoid constitutional trials for anyone accused of terrorism, admits it is trying to assassinate an American citizen Muslim cleric in Yemen, and launches deadly drone strikes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen killing civilians and suspects whenever we decide.
Who benefits from permanent war?
One support for permanent war is that there are corporations in the US which openly lobby for more and more money to be invested in war. Why? Because they profit enormously from government contracts.
President Dwight Eisenhower, who believed in a strong military, warned the US about just this in his farewell address to the nation in 1961.