Editor’s note: Wausau Pilot & Review gladly publishes commentary from readers, residents and candidates for local offices. The views of readers and columnists are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot & Review. To submit, email editor@wausaupilotandreview.com or mail to 500 N. Third St., Suite 208-8, Wausau, Wis. 54403.

Dear editor,

The impeachment trial has ended and partisan wrangling over a Covid relief package for working Americans will return to center stage. Yet this past December congress passed another historically high defense budget with almost no objection from either political party. The question arises: Why is it “our” politicians can blindly spend a trillion dollars every year to enrich the defense industry, but approving programs that help average citizens is going to “bankrupt the nation?”  

It may seem disconnected from current divisiveness to look at history, but it can enlighten. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 5-star general who led allied forces against Nazi Germany in World War II, warned against the dangers of an oversized military. He knew a military/industrial complex would grow out of control, drain rather than protect the nation, become a threat to democracy.

Here is part of a speech Eisenhower gave in 1953:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

Eisenhower’s fears went unheeded. Flash forward to 2020 and the words of another U.S. military officer:

“Ask yourself this question: During a deadly pandemic, as the American death toll approaches 400,000 while still accelerating, what unites “our” representatives in Congress?  What is the only act that draws wide and fervent bipartisan support, not to speak of a unique override of a Trump presidential veto in these last four years?  It certainly isn’t providing health care for all or giving struggling families checks for $2,000 to ensure that food will be on American tables or that millions of us won’t be evicted from our homes in the middle of a pandemic.  No, what unites “our” representatives is funding the military-industrial complex to the tune of $740.5 billion in fiscal year 2021 (though the real amount spent on what passes for “national security” each year regularly exceeds a trillion dollars).  Still, that figure of $740.5 billion in itself is already higher than the combined military spending of the next 10 countries, including Russia and China as well as U.S. allies like France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.”                      – William Astore, retired Lieutenant Colonel (USAF) and professor of history

American deaths from World War II (1941-1945):  405,339

American Deaths from Covid 19 as of 2/12/2021473,699

U.S. deaths from Covid 19 are certain to rise well beyond 500,000 in 2021 – a far greater threat to Americans than World War II. But “our” congress cannot unite to defend us.

We now know every war the United States has preemptively started since Vietnam – Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and effectively, Syria and Yemen – has been based on lies from our political and military leaders. It is obvious America’s military “adventures” around the world are not only increasing terrorism and hatred for the United States (not to mention killing hundreds of thousands of “others”), they are impoverishing us as a people. Yet “our” congress approves, without hesitation, over one trillion dollars each and every year to support this insanity.

Arms corporations and the fabulously wealthy individuals profiting from war pay for political campaigns. Covid-19 does not. As Eisenhower warned – this is not a way of life. It is the people of America hanging from an iron cross.

To begin to grasp how corrupt the military/industrial/congressional complex has actually become, please take the time to read the work of USAF veteran Christian Sorenson: Ultimate War Profiteers. “We the people” are once again the victims of Wall Street greed and billionaire oligarchs. Beyond the financial harm imparted, it is intellectually and spiritually destroying us as a nation.

Dave Svetlik
Kronenwetter