With Wars To Wage, Who Can Afford Peace?

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022

By Robert C. Koehler

Texas and Arizona have begun busing refugees at their border – at a cost of millions – up to a couple liberal Northern cities . . . let’s see how they like it!

Texas, according to Gov. Greg Abbott, “has had to take unprecedented action to keep our communities safe” – you know, from the hordes of rapists or whatever storming across America’s insecure border, which of course is 100 percent the fault of President Joe Biden.

The threat to America! Hungry, desperate people . . . children . . . yearning for safety, yearning for security and acceptance. What choice does the governor have but to do what he can, what he must, to make this nuisance go away – and in the process turn the refugees into pawns in a snarky game of political back-and-forth across the Mason-Dixon line?

A year ago I wrote: “We pretend to have enemies, but mostly what we ‘have’ are people whose lives simply don’t matter. And then we kill them, either directly — via airstrikes or other war games, turning them into collateral damage — or indirectly . . . by simply failing to care that they exist.

“The moral idiocy of this transcends cruelty and indifference. We’re also killing ourselves. The idea that humanity — that life itself — is ‘all one’ isn’t just a nice thought, an outreach of kindness, but the cornerstone of survival.”

In other words, what if . . . ?

What if we as a nation saw the “threat” posed by desperate refugees at the Southern border to be the military and social upheaval that drove them out of their homelands – much of it, of course, the result of U.S. policy – and our national instinct was to respond with empathy to their needs: to welcome them, to help them, to value them? I don’t say this simplistically. This is an extraordinarily costly idea – free healthcare, free salvation, for the whole damn planet?

But this is the irony. We spend enormous amounts of money simply having enemies. Texas, for instance, has reportedly run up a bill of about $7 million busing multi-thousand “illegals” up to Washington, D.C., and New York City. What if this money were spent actually helping them instead?

However, I also note a certain politically transcendent brilliance to the busing scheme (however inadvertent it may be): giving the whole country a chance to play a role in helping refugees. All of which brings up what is perhaps the largest question in the political universe: Why do we spend trillions of dollars preparing for and waging war and, in comparison, pennies on the creation of peace – on the outreach and empathy that emerge from our knowledge that we are all one? Let me put it even more simply: Why do we take war for granted?

I mean, so much for granted that our investment in it is not only limitless but without the least bit of awareness – awareness that wars are never won and never end. And so last month, the U.S. House passed next year’s defense budget, adding $37 billion to Biden’s proposal and pushing it well over $800 billion.

Jared Golden, the Democratic rep who initially proposed pushing the military budget beyond the Biden proposal, justified the budget this way: “We need only look to world events in Ukraine, read reports regarding China’s plans and actions in the South China Sea, or simply read the latest headlines about Iranian nuclear ambitions and North Korean missile tests, as well as ongoing terrorist threats, in order to see why this additional funding is necessary to meet the security challenges of our time.”

So let’s toss in a few billion more dollars! That’ll keep us safe. But almost none of that money will be spent attempting to heal the consequences of the wars we wage. Migrants who flow across the border are called “unauthorized” and they overwhelm the communities they enter, be those communities on the Texas and Arizona borders or in New York and Washington. These communities are overwhelmed, of course, because they lack the resources to deal with this inflow. But what if immigrants were simply seen as fellow humans, and helping them were an obvious priority – indeed, a significant factor in national (and global) security?

Yeah, I know, that’s absurd. What matters, as a Forbes article points out, is whether we have “the capabilities and capacity to deter and if necessary, defeat, challenges from major-power rivals China and Russia, as well as deal with those posed by Iran, North Korea, and global terrorism.”

A hungry child at our border? Forget it!

The Forbes story breaks down the amount of money the new budget proposal allots to each branch of the military, casually noting that 3.2 percent – this is approximately $25 billion – would go to . . . fasten your seatbelts! . . . the Space Force.

Space is vital to U.S. national security and integral to modern warfare,” the White House declared in a budget summary document. “The budget maintains America’s advantage by improving the resilience of U.S. space architectures to bolster deterrence and increase survivability during hostilities.”

There’s not even a national debate about this. Basic human needs go barely addressed or, at worst, utterly unfulfilled at every level of the national and global social structure, and most politicians, most of the media, most people in power, meet it with a shrug. Sorry, the money isn’t there! But us-vs.-them still revs the engines of official thought, and they’ve just allotted $25 billion to fund a new version of Star Wars.