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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:14 AM
Original message
Going downhill Soviet style
Most historians agree that the single biggest contributing factor in the collapse of the Soviet Union was the fact that it sacrificed the needs of the population on the altar of war. It's military budget was the single biggest item in its overall budget, in fact the military sucked down more than all other budget items combined.

Then it got itself involved in a long, drawn out war in Afghanistan, one that it couldn't win, but apparently one that it couldn't walk away from either. The Soviet population became increasingly upset, with the culmination being the events we saw in the '89-'91 era. A complete collapse of the Soviet empire.

We seem to be headed down the same path. Our military budget, when added all together, comes in at around one trillion dollars(this is not just DoD spending, but also the military spending that is built into the discretionary budget, items like our care and upkeep of our nuclear fleet, which falls under the Dept. of Energy). Our over all budget is three trillion dollars, thus one out of three tax dollars goes into our military budget. Several reputable experts state that once you add in the various intelligence operations and black box operations, the military budget actually comes close to one half of our overall budget.

Either way, we're paying far too much for our military.

Yet tonight, in this time of economic crisis, our president is going to propose a freeze on all non-military discretionary spending. Thus we are going to be sacrificing the welfare of our people, during the greatest economic downturn in a generation, on the altar of war.

There is something fundamentally wrong with this concept. It is wrong not just politically, but morally and ethically as well. A government's primary job is to provide for the welfare of its citizens, yet instead we are choosing to provide for the welfare of the military industrial complex. We are having our future, and the future of our children put on the altar of war, to be consumed by the military industrial complex, who will then come back and demand more.

Don't get me wrong, I fully understand and support the case for a strong military force. But when our military budget, the largest in the world, outstrips the next twenty eight countries combined, I think that there is a lot of room for cutting back and still maintaining our position of biggest badass on the block.

The first two places we need to cut are the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They are unwinnable quagmires of wars that will only consume us in the end, much like Vietnam did. It is time that we pulled out of both places.

We also need to shut down dozens and dozens of bases around the world that are no longer needed. Our presence in Japan is becoming an increasing bone of contention, so let us leave. Likewise it is time that we reduced our presence in Europe and elsewhere. World War II and the Cold War are long gone, so lets abandon those obsolete and unneeded posts. Furthermore, we need to readjust our relationship with the rest of the world. We need to stop our empire building under the guise of being the world's cop. Yes, there are places where our military forces can do good, but we seldom go there, instead opting for other places where there is oil or other strategic resources. Finally, we need to learn how to play nice with other countries in the world. By being benevolent and culturally tolerant and sensitive, we could avoid a lot of situations that we get ourselves into (a few million dollars back in the late eighties would probably have prevented 911)

So we have a choice before us. Are we going to continue down this path towards self destruction that we're one, sacrificing our population on the altar of war? Or will we take our government back from the MIC and start looking out for our own citizens, our own needs instead of those of the military. Obama is apparently in favor of the former, perhaps it is time to send him a message that in these times it is time to choose the latter.

Otherwise, we'll simply be another failed military empire, quicker than you think. It's that simple
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Captain Hilts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:24 AM
Response to Original message
1. This argument ignores the gross inefficiency and corruption of the economy. Military spending was
excessive, but also employed a lot of people and drove innovation. Was it cost effective? Certainly not. The USSR had little use for such a huge navy, for example.

But the collapse of the Soviet system was a moribund economy that was incapable of sustaining any kind of economic growth after the mid 1960s.

Sad, but true, military spending does drive innovation. Your cellular phone, fuel injection, the Internet, etc.
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:30 AM
Response to Reply #1
6. Cutting back on the military budget is not going to kill innovation
And I think that arguing that it will is disingenuous. And while the military does employ a lot of people, that work force can be re-deployed elsewhere, after all, are we not suffering from a lack of people in several areas like education, healthcare and such?

Yes, the Soviet Union had a moribund economy, but it doesn't rule out the fact that their excessive military spending is what drove them into the ground. When over half your budget is going into the military, that doesn't leave a lot left over to help your people.
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Captain Hilts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:39 AM
Response to Reply #6
9. I'm not saying that military spending is the best way to spend money, but...
but the 'benefits' of doing so are greater in the USSR than they are for us. That's all.
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:42 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. Then if the benefits are less for us, even more reason we need to cut the military budget
Because it is draining us dry.
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Captain Hilts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:53 AM
Response to Reply #10
15. Yes and no. As a % of GDP, it's MUCH lower than it was '60s-80s.
Just saying.

But, yeah, the Iraq War has been a huge HUGE wasteful expense in financial and human terms.
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:47 PM
Response to Reply #15
35. I don't think you are right. I think that Homeland Security has really taken away a huge
Edited on Wed Jan-27-10 10:57 PM by truedelphi
percentage of our treasury spending, and it has to be considered military.

And HS is not even very effective, not in terms of preventing terror, nor in terms of money. there was so much money poured into the HS system, within eighteen months of its creation, even the conservative Reader's Digest was complaining about how HS was buying fire trucks, all across the nation, for teensie little towns that probably didn't need a fire truck. But HS didn't know what to do with its monies.
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RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:44 AM
Response to Reply #1
11. How many really cool innovations today are tied up in top secret
military projects? How many of them will we not hear of for years - even decades - because of the exigencies of military secrecy?

That GPS that everyone loves so much? Could have been in your car ten years earlier - except for military secrecy.

Who knows what else is out there, buried in military red tape?
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ThomThom Donating Member (752 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 11:49 AM
Response to Reply #11
27. yes, radio controlled planes sure have made great advances
We could have had nuclear power without using uranium if not for the military aspect of bombs, big bombs.
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Ghost Dog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-28-10 06:04 AM
Response to Reply #11
39. Yeah. The whole world really needs to militarize everything
Edited on Thu Jan-28-10 06:11 AM by Ghost Dog
(R&D, finance, production (who needs capitalism, crony- or otherwise?)... and above all government itself).

Advantages: Cut out the too-big-to-fail investment banks (just channel taxes directly to the military); Lots of Cool Stuff for Consumers to play with (on the job and on furlough) - even more fun than their Dicks; More War reduces population: solves environmental problems; When ET shows up, we'll (all our warlords) be ready for her. And, if it's military it's not called 'socialism' (nationalist nor internationalist).

Command and Control.

Dammit, it makes so much senseTM I think I'll form a new political party...
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jgraz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 01:36 PM
Response to Reply #1
31. Here's an idea: if we want a jobs program, let's pick one that doesn't kill people
or bankrupt the economy.

You can say the same to all the handwringing about those poor insurance company employees who might lose their jobs.
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bahrbearian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 02:24 PM
Response to Reply #1
32. How much Treasure do we waste cleaning up Miltary misadventure?
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Tyrone Slothrop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:25 AM
Response to Original message
2. K&R n/t
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Vidar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:28 AM
Response to Original message
3. K&R.
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unhappycamper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:29 AM
Response to Original message
4. Afghanistan is called the "Graveyard of Empires" for good reason.
k&r

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invictus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:29 AM
Response to Original message
5. K&R
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closeupready Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:32 AM
Response to Original message
7. Absolutely-I am very pessimistic about our future since many Democratic leaders are bought off
by the MIC. Simply a matter of time.

Or as the saying goes, "to everything, there's a beginning, a middle and an end."
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:36 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. I, when I was younger I always wondered what it was like to live through the fall of the Rome
Now I guess I'm going to find out, and it isn't going to be pretty.
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Diclotican Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 11:51 AM
Response to Reply #8
28. MadHound
MadHound

If the records who surived is true, it was a mess, a horrible mess of violece for a population who for the most part haven't known wars for at least 250 year or so.. The roman legions had made peace in all provinces, and the Roman Law had to a degree also made peace in most of the countryside..

But it was also a long drawn affair, it was more than 100 year before the Western Empire, who was for the most part situated in Ravenna rather than Rome, was to fall in 476 AD.. Even that the "fall" was something of a anticlimax mostly becouse it ended with the abdication of a 14 year young boy who was in name only the roman emperor.. As the story goes he was given a lot of land to live in, and enough money to live comfortable for the rest of his life.. And he then just walked into the darkness of the middle ages and was more or less forgotten..

The end of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantium in 1453 on the other hand, was with far more "action". There the last roman emperor died in the front of his troops as the Othomans was breatching the walls of Constantinopel..

SO, if the American Empire was to fall, and it could look more and more like that for the moment, it could fall either way, as a wimp, as the Soviet union did, or with a bang as the Byzantine Empire does.. If the US then dosent managed for some reason to make it not happend..

Diclotican
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Ghost Dog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-28-10 06:27 AM
Response to Reply #28
40. Yes, but No, Diclotican.
Edited on Thu Jan-28-10 06:29 AM by Ghost Dog
The USA, surely, is in the process of ceasing to be a functioning Democratic Republic (of sorts), becoming a Despotic Plutocracy - corporate-money-controlled, akin the the First and Second Triumvirates - to be followed (via Lex Titius and Proscription), soon by the first openly declared Autocratic Divine Emperor... a process in the Roman past involving centuries of civil and international wars (which would no doubt occur much more rapidly this time).

Then and only then (having defeated and absorbed the likes of Europe, Russia, China and Islam) would an analogous Pax Romana (Pax Americana) be possible.

Then, one can surely imagine the eventual Decadence, Decline and Fall.

...Unless, of course, the Despots are halted in their tracks, like, about NOW.
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Diclotican Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-28-10 10:33 AM
Response to Reply #40
41. Ghost Dog
Ghost Dog

The similarity between Rome and Washington is really scary, becouse the decline of the "roman republic" as sutch was not clear cut, but rather a decline as the empire of Rome was building up and many of the most powerfull men in Rome desided they wantet it all, for themself.. And for the record, the Roman Republic was not by any means a democratic republic, it was ruled by the rich, and was for the most part also for the rich.. But it was also a Republic who in most of its existence was ruled by law, and where all sitizence of Rome had a word in what was okay and not.. And compared to the current Republic in Washington, in Rome when the check and balances was in safe hands the Consules was responsible for what they did, when they was in power.. And the roman consules who was in sharge, was also duable to be arrested, get to a corth and convicted if guilty, something I dosen't se would ever be the case in Washington DC.. But in the late Republic of Rome, it was a messy, and bloody ruling on the top of the roman power, and if you was to fall, your fall would be long and hard.. Brutal...

The decline of the Republic and the start of the Monarcy, who the republicans hated so mutch, and who ended the life of Csar s early in 44BC wss in many cases also the ned of the Republic. After that, it was no way the Republic could surive, and the sivil war between Antonius/Cleopatra and the young hair and revenger of Csar, Octavian more or less sealed the fate of the Roman Republic so to say.. And the next 500 year the roman empire was ruled by emperors, who could be good, and could be horrible.. And Titus was not even the worst of the roman emperors I would say :P

And Proscription was not a tool for the Roman Emperors, that was an old Republican way of making sure that your enemy was never to beat you in the head after a while.

Diclotican
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Ghost Dog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-28-10 04:34 PM
Response to Reply #41
42. Yes, Diclotican, as you say: much more to say.
And much food for thought.

(I've been busy, but here there's room to talk, for thought, I reckon).

It seems to me, Western soi-called culture has, as it were, brought down the level (EQUALISED?) of discussion, and maybe of power, for a while, to that of the mere (traditional, law-respecting) capitalist/creative bourgeoisie.



was already a great achievement. Iuris: Jurisprudence. Which our Anglo-American friends so obviously despise (and pervert).

"Democracy", of course, was always a bitter joke.
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uponit7771 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:47 AM
Response to Original message
12. It's like they hate history
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:49 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. Or simply don't take the time to learn from it.
Or have the hubris to think that they can beat the odds.

Or they simply don't care, that's what my money is on. After all, they can make the big bucks sucking the last of the lifeblood out of this country, and then when the going gets tough, off they go to some other friendly country, leaving the rest of us poor schlubs to pick up the pieces.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:50 AM
Response to Reply #12
14. We live in a nation where history is typically taught by the football coach
and rarely required for a college degree anymore.

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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:54 AM
Response to Reply #14
16. 'Scuse me, I teach history
I'm not a football coach, nor any sort of coach. In fact that old stereotype of "history teacher as coach" was disappearing when I was in HS thirty plus years ago, and it is even less true now.

Not to mention that even coaches have to go through college and get an education degree these days, and have had to for a number of decades.

Please stop spreading such bullshit, teachers are under enough assault already.
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Captain Hilts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 11:09 AM
Response to Reply #16
19. My high school had coaches teaching history too. Winners/losers, good guys/bad guys.
Just like sports.

But, yes, certainly not all history teachers are coaches.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 12:08 PM
Response to Reply #16
29. Sorry, I DID go to high school in the bad old days when
it was impossible to get a job teaching history unless you also had a coaching endorsement. (I know, because I looked into the possibility, and I was told that by the teacher placement specialist at my undergraduate college. Being terminally uninterested in team sports, I went for a different major.)

If that's no longer the case, great!

(And I'm sure that you, in particular, are an excellent history teacher.)
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 12:27 PM
Response to Reply #29
30. Sorry if I came across as a bit harsh
But I've gotten so sick and tired of that whole history teacher/coach stereotype, people asking me about what I coach, why don't I coach, etc. It just gets to me, and I shouldn't slam you with it.
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backscatter712 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 11:02 AM
Response to Original message
17. How does the saying go... You can have empire, or your can have democracy, but you can't have both.
I choose democracy, I don't know about you...
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tblue37 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 07:57 PM
Response to Reply #17
34. Silly wabbit. Choice is for corporations! nt
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mmonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 11:05 AM
Response to Original message
18. Yes. At some point, massive militarized states decline or implode
because it becomes unmanageable.
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The2ndWheel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 11:14 AM
Response to Original message
20. Seems like those military empires just keep going until they can't
Not really a choice. Just history and momentum. You either lose to another military empire doing the same thing you're doing, only better, or you just physically can't keep going, and then you're forced to decrease your military ability.

The US is still the last military empire standing from the 20th century, and so far it has been able to physically continue. All the protests, and take-our-government-back slogans mean nothing if the infrastructure allows the MIC to continue functioning.
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CrispyQ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 11:29 AM
Response to Original message
21. I vote this best post of the day.
k&r
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PA Democrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 11:30 AM
Response to Original message
22. K & R. Lots of important lessons to be learned from history.
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TheBigotBasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 11:34 AM
Response to Original message
23. If you drop a $100 million bomb on people
they tend to get quite pissed.

If you dropped $100 million on a local street, that would certainly help to win hearts and minds.
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CrispyQ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 11:41 AM
Response to Reply #23
24. Yeah, but Lockheed doesn't get as big a share that way.
:banghead:

The MIC is devouring our country.
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closeupready Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 11:43 AM
Response to Reply #23
25. They get pissed, but that's how future business is generated.
n/t
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ThomThom Donating Member (752 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 11:44 AM
Response to Original message
26. there are some in my state that would like very much to be free
from that horrible federal government. If it gets much worse I might agree.
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DisgustedInMN Donating Member (956 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 05:51 PM
Response to Original message
33. You're saying Obama is moving the wrong way?
So, what else is new?

:sarcasm:
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ShadowLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:57 PM
Response to Original message
36. Agreed, we need to go back to only having a military when we're at war
Before WW1 the United States had very few people with the military as their full time career. They had a couple hundred (or maybe it was thousand) career military people in peace time, that's it. If we went to war then those career military people were to quickly train all the troops we needed.

Our founding fathers didn't set up a standing army for a reason. Heck, standing armies in other less stable countries have a history of either oppressing the people for the dictator, or overthrowing their own government and taking over themselves just because they didn't like the government.

And you will find that historically a lot of empires fell apart after they got too big from winning too much land in too many wars. Countries like that become too hard to manage, and very vunlerable to stuff like going bankrupt. That was how the Mongol emperor of China lost his power, he wasted way too much of his government's money on two failed invasions of Japan (the second invasion was much larger, but most of his forces were destroyed before even hitting the ground from a massive storm, if not for the storm then Japan would have fallen to him). After his invasion of Japan failed and he had nothing to show it except for all that wasted money and debt his government didn't last for much longer.
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leftstreet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:59 PM
Response to Original message
37. K&R
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Eyerish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 11:03 PM
Response to Original message
38. K&R
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