Thanks to Congressmember Carbajal for including vessel safety in the new Defense Authorization bill. It is good to see someone ensuring that military spending actually benefits our people. The Military Industrial Congressional Complex (MICC) has long been the driving force of defense spending. Because of the control over Congress they exert (every district profits through jobs), the only hope of change is to find things other than offensive weaponry to spend taxpayer money on. Global climate change, the current pandemic and future pandemics all make this possible and necessary.
Peace advocates and organizations should be working to change the mission. Defense spending could be made genuine defense spending instead of offense spending as it currently is. Efforts to transform the military may not be successful, but at least they are an effort that embraces the reality we find ourselves in. We have all seen the predictions — by environmentalists, medical professionals and the Pentagon — that pandemics and climate chaos will increase conflict and displacement of people. The gist is that military activity is going to increase, whether we endorse it or oppose it.
R. Bucky Fuller reflected on his career in the Navy and the conversion of defense spending from weaponry to livingry. He liked to point out that refrigeration, transistors, and the Internet all came from defense spending. I think that we can oppose the use of war as an instrument of foreign policy and that we can embrace the good that our military — and likely only our military — can accomplish in an era of increased global conflict and instability.
The Navy’s hospital ships, Comfort and Mercy, will soon be retired and no replacements have been planned. In an era when climate chaos and pandemics can be expected, that would be an appropriate project for the new defense spending.