The Obama Administration’s drone war in tribal areas of Pakistan has gone largely overlooked. Media attention is scare and vague with headlines that read off lives like they were counting a tally. Names are not mentioned and the targets are designated as “militants.”
The public is told that drone strikes are surgical and precise; that they “limit collateral damage” and civilian casualties are minimal. But we could not be less aware of the situation.
Each day U.S. foreign policy imposes the will of a foreign oppressor on land that we have no right to. We murder without mercy; without remorse.
In Northwest Pakistan’s tribal areas, a remote part of the country filled with poor people, a rare minority are militants. Traveling to the nearest major city requires a journey of hours or even days through harsh terrain and a quagmire of military checkpoints.
Almost none of the so-called militants poses an imminent threat to the American homeland. The enemy we fight has no real capacity to ever touch American soil, and the only blood they spill is from the troops we send into their homelands, to spread peace and uphold the virtues of democracy.
Our foreign military action is wildly out of control. The reason behind it is quite simply: money. We make the big corporations money because the United States spends more on war than anyone else. To transition our gargantuan war machine to another purpose would not be profitable. The amount we spend on our military is massive and never-ending.
- America spends more on its military than THE NEXT 15 COUNTRIES COMBINED.3
- Defense spending is higher today than at any time since the height of World War II.3
- The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population, but almost 50% of the world’s total military expenditure.3
- The U.S. must spend a full 1% of its GDP just to maintain its arsenal.3
- In 2008, the Pentagon spent more money every five seconds in Iraq than the average American earned in a year.3
- The Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety.3
Our military spending needs to be reduced. Drastically. When one day of spending of the U.S. Pentagon ($1.6 billion) equals enough funds to ensure antimalarial bed net protection for every sleeping site in Africa for five years (300 million bed nets at $5 each), we are not properly allocating our tax dollars.2
Think about how much good that money could do if we spend $1.6 billion per day on improving our schools, our communities, our national infrastructure. Instead, we spend it on bombs to drop on a minuscule population of fundamentalists at the price of $68,000 per AGM-114 Hellfire missile.7 $68,000 for one missile. That does not include the shipping, storage and operating cost of the mission. The actual cost is immensely higher.
The price of just one missile is more money than the median annual household income in the US ($51,413 in 2011)4. For every missile we DON’T FIRE, we could more than support and ENTIRE family for a year.
So where does all this money come from? From your taxes of course. 44.4% of US taxes in 2009 went towards the cost of current and past military operations.2
We need to stop this agenda of American imperialism. We are not the police force of the world. The only reason we are involved so extensively in foreign military operations is for profit. We send in the troops; spend the money on the weapons, bandages and shipping; then we rape the third world for oil. It’s been the American way for centuries. We talk a big game, yet what democracies have we established abroad?5
Our military-industrial complex is vast and greedy. It is multifaceted with members in all levels of government from the voters to the President. We all feed into this self-propagating machine with every dollar meal you buy. Everything we consume is made from oil; tainted by blood… And Americans consume a lot.
We are the only known species that has ever reached for the stars, yet we kill each other in droves over 48 square miles in the Middle East. The violence must cease. Humanity can strive to be more.
1. The Atlantic, ‘Every Person Is Afraid of the Drones’: The Strikes’ Effect on Life in Pakistan
2. Ryan Allis, 25 Facts on Global Military Spending
3. Business Insider, 15 Facts About Military Spending That Will Blow Your Mind
4. USA Today, U.S. median household income up 4% at end of 2011
5. Roger B. Myerson, W. C. Norby Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, The Challenge of Establishing Democracy in Iraq: Past Mistakes and Future Possibilities
6. International Herald Tribune, Are Drone Strikes Worth the Costs?
7. Military.Wikia.com, AGM-114 Hellfire
8. Stop the War, Bye-bye Miss American Pie: What a great year it’s been for US atrocities in Afghanistan