The politics of fighting for a lower military budget

(reprinted from Common Dreams comment section in August 2019)

The left always gets outplayed on the politics of the military budget. Just giving the “guns and butter” argument that money is better spent on social needs has been shown time and again to be a losing argument. Americans see the men and women in the military as serving their country and want their military to have the necessary tools to carry out their missions.  The problem is that we give them too damn many missions. Missions that protect powerful economic interests rather than the interests of the people. Missions to exploit the resources and cheap labor of other lands that cost jobs and dignity at home. Missions that foster brutal dictatorships and degrade democratic values in the world. Missions that add to our global warming problem and destroy the environment globally.

I think the better political argument is to advocate for an annual audit of every mission in every country. Who is benefitting and who is being hurt? What values are we enhancing or degrading? What is our goal? Are our actions working toward success in that goal? By what measures?

That audit should be publicly available to allow for full public discussion and vetted through the mechanisms of the War Powers Act. If a mission is deemed necessary, then make sure they have the tools to carry it out. If not, then withdraw from the mission at a maximum pace. That strategy puts progressive people squarely on the side of their natural position of avoiding harm to those serving and avoiding military adventurism that destroys the peace, well-being, and self-determination of the world’s peoples.