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April 1, 2016

The Middle East Guns versus Butter Argument

By Robert Cogan

Endless expenditure on war, under austerity, robs government's ability to fund programs proposed by Clinton or Sanders.


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As Vietnam wore on, critics developed the "Guns Versus Butter" argument: We are wasting endless resources on foreign military expenditure (guns) instead of needed domestic expenditures (butter.) It's happening again. Trump, Cruz and Clinton's rhetoric against Iran and Russia are much more aggressive than Sanders. Since the President dominates foreign policy, their rhetoric, acted on, under austerity, would mean relatively more guns and less butter than under a Sanders presidency.

An election should be a chance for dialog, not just a personality contest. Congress failed to limit our bipartisan "defense of freedom" in Vietnam. Can voters, through party leaders, stop the mission creeping cretins of Washington? Bush's destruction of Iraq set fire to the always smoldering Muslim Middle East. But the Middle East, with 1.4 billion Muslims, though burning, won't go away, nor will the deepening Muslim hostility to us and to an expansionist Israel.

True nationalist conservatives, moderates, conscientious liberals and progressives should insist the parties refuse further funding for "regime change." A party can switch to a policy of strategic disengagement. Cease fire unless fired upon; remove all U.S troops while evacuating threatened minorities (willing to leave with resettlement support.) Call a world conference for Peace and Repartition.

Our regime changes and drone bombing bring revenge terrorism home. Washington's bipartisan policy has already cost $1-2 trillion. Under austerity that money does not fund domestic jobs, build infrastructure, fund public scholarship for higher education, etc. It makes for stinginess about health care, Social Security payment cuts, and even food stamps for the poor. The mosaic of American identities cracks and parts grind resentfully against one another. Can we limit this one evil first, and hope for a peace dividend?

Voters never got to vote on any step of our "mission creep." Neither party's candidates will get my vote(s) unless they adopt a platform plank that forbids further funding for Middle East regime change. Ms.Wasserman -- Schultz, Mr.Priebus, etc.: how, otherwise, will this end? How will it not get ever worse? Starve this metastasizing cancer! Clip all hawks wings!

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Authors Bio:

I could be Bernie Sanders older brother by similarity. I was born in Manhattan, 1940, he, about a year later, in Brooklyn. I too am a white male American. A retired college professor of philosophy. We both were born of Jewish parents. I was in Harlem CORE, He in Chicago CORE. We both went to the University of Chicago; me 58 - 62, he 60 - 64 (I think.) And yet, I don't recall meeting him! U. of Chicago had plenty of progressive activists despite being a bastion of Milton Friedman. He went into politics in Vermont in '68 (?) and I settled that year into a college professorship in northwestern Pennsylvania.

I've been a long-time minor activist in the civil rights, anti-war, pro feminism movements and taught critical thinking and social philosophy. I've been a unionist, on the Board of Directors of a food co-op, an ACLU chapter president, a CASA, and an elected Green Party Borough Councilman in my small hometown. I'm happily married, for over 50 years, to a woman significantly responsible for my modest success in life. We have two great kids and one grandchild, for whom we hope there is a decent future! Recently I've been pushing Modern Monetary Theory.

Politically in 60 years I've been everything from a Libertarian in extreme youth, through socialist but now at last I just call myself a Utilitarian and Pragmatist. It avoids useless rhetorical arguments.