We continue our indictment of the U.S. war machine by welcoming William Hartung of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft to break down the bloated military budget and what we can do about it. Then Cindy Sheehan, joins us to talk about her journey as the mother of a fallen soldier to become the most prominent anti-war activist of the Bush/Cheney era. Plus, Ralph comes down hard on states that deny their citizens Medicaid.
In discussing the usual GWB suspects in connection w/Iraq-Afghanistan, you missed someone. I guess nobody noticed that a couple of weeks ago Paul Wolfowitz was on one of the endless number of panels discussing the wars 20th anniversary. Now you’re probably saying to yourself “how could I see it…I don’t watch Fox News”. Well, it wasn’t on Fox! It was on, of all places, THE PBS NEWS HOUR!! Apparently they are still holding to the fiction that they have to be “fair and balanced”. As if we needed another reason to write off PBS as a “non-establishment” news outlet…..
War, what is it good for?
Making lots of money-say it again!
What can we do about it?
"And then I think people need to feel like they can influence government. I think a lot of people have given up. They forget that citizen's movements have had tremendous victories in the past and they can do so again."
The question is how can we do it.
It is clear from the example of Cindy Sheehan that it can't be done as it was in the past. The powers that be have adapted to the strategies that worked in the past and will only pay attention to protests/movements that they can use to manipulate people by making people feel like they are doing something without actually doing anything.
It is a War on Democracy.
It is a war that must be fought in the voting booth using the one "weapon" we have-our votes.
The powers that be have got us "shooting" at each other rather than work together "shooting" at them.
We need a volunteer "army" of citizens to train our "weapons" on the powers that be and we need Ralph to lead this "army" to use our "weapons" by demanding that politicians do not take big money and enforcing that demand with our votes.
Please, Ralph, abandon the strategies that worked in the past that no longer work and adapt as the powers that be have adapted by answering this "call to arms".
While this will not influence the powers that be, getting started now for 2024 will make it possible to begin replacing the powers that be in 2026 or 2028 with small donor politicians that will be influenced by our votes.
Or we could wait until 2026 or 2028 to get started so it won't begin to be effective until 2030 or beyond.
I, for one, have not given up on democracy or you, Ralph.
I know Ms. Sheehan addressed this topic in the interview, but I find it quite amazing how Democrats and their supporting members of the media promoted Ms. Sheehan’s anti-war efforts until it became obvious that Ms. Sheehan was also addressing support for militarization supported, or at least enabled, by Democrats. Then, we didn’t see so much of Ms. Sheehan in Democratic-leaning media. And, of course, with things like drone warfare, for better or for worse, we don’t have these human voices to tell us about the horrors of war.
Mr. Hartung’s information seems to be solid. The progressive question has always been about how to reverse militarization. Of course, there are many aspects to that question. One thing which will significantly decrease the corruptive influence of the military industry and their need to expand in order to please their investors is to nationalize the military industry so that jobs are maintained in the communities where the privatized military industry are providing jobs while re-purposing the labor to engineer and produce more important materials for domestic/international use such as medical equipment and green energy technology. This should, if marketed correctly to the public, assuage the public that employment is safe and that it’ll lead to a safer, more humane country. Without maintenance/expansion of employment, reforms have no chance of working. The military industry and politicians who support the military industry constantly use the messaging of ‘job creation’ and so progressives have to do one better on the employment, hopefully full employment, front.
On that note, Mr. Nader has written about the work of economist John Kenneth Galbraith quite frequently and quite glowing over the years. With that, we need to keep in mind what Galbraith wrote about militarization and de-militarization. The economist Bill Mitchell wrote an interesting blog entry back in January where he talks about how de-militarization and how progressives can achieve it. I’ll quote a short passage about it here. JKG here refers to John Kenneth Galbraith and his seminal 1973 book, ‘The New Industrial State’. MIC refers to the military-industrial complex.
Bill Mitchell, Jan. 23, 2023: “As JKG noted above, progressives are somewhat stuck when they criticise the MIC and the amount of funding it receives from national governments.
Progressives like to think that the MIC expenditure can be simply replaced by spending on hospitals, schools, public transport and the like.
However, as JKG noted, if you reduce the MIC outlays down significantly, there is a huge spending hole that would be hard to fill without expanding the size of the public sector considerably.
I would support that sort of shift.
But, all of that sort of ‘progressive’ expenditure is the type that leads to manic criticism from those with political power, unlike the military outlays which are ‘exempt’ from such criticism.
So the question that progressives have to answer is how can they create the political conditions whereby the public sector expands significantly in its as corporate profits shrink.”
The fundamental point here is that government spending in so many critical domestic areas is heavily criticized by Congress for reasons that never get mentioned or criticized when military spending increases. Demilitarization will be hard to achieve without bringing attention to this point and knowing how to correctly counter it. This takes informed economic knowledge.
Galbraith’s son, James Kenneth Galbraith, is also an economist who does good work. He’s on the board of governors of the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College along with four other economists including Pavlina Tcherneva and L. Randall Wray. I’m most familiar with Randy Wray’s work and I believe he would be a fine guest on the RNRH to explain this matter further. I would think that Mr. Nader would be excited to speak to Wray given Wray’s recent book published by the Princeton University Press and Wray’s testimony to the House Budget Committee a few years ago.
On a final note, the ‘In Case You Haven’t Heard’ point about Mexico is quite concerning as it somewhat resembles many historical events of infamy, most notably in my mind is the 1953 Iranian coup d'état where the UK and US opposed Iran’s democratically elected government over matters of control of Iran’s oil. That one event has led to significant geopolitical instability ever since which we’re still mishandling even today. Of course, the situation with Mexico is even more concerning as we are talking about a neighbor as opposed to a country on the other side of the world and so the US’s hegemonism could have even more dire consequences for us domestically.
Thank you for having William Hartung and Cindy Sheehan as your guests on this week's Ralph Nader Radio Hour. Especially since 9/11, our government under both Republicans and Democrats seems more interested in war making than peace making. The military budget is out of control, and there will be less money available to meet domestic issues--such as climate disruption, healthcare, etc. The main beneficiaries of our current proxy war in Ukraine are the defense contractors. Biden and members of Congress need to stop listening to the war hawks, and listen more to people calling for a reduction in the military budget, more diplomacy, more negotiations, and more cooperation with the nations of the world.