The Price of War

Zaynah Rehan
Mercury Staff

Military funding should be redirected toward health, education

In modern-day society, The United States of America is known for its vast economic wealth, numerous freedoms and opportunities and strong military. The military industrial complex — defined as an establishment within a country that produces technology for the purposes of protection against outside threats — has become a business of war profiting from governmental interests. However, with such a large country holding many diverse peoples, it is important that the money the U.S. government accrues from its citizens be allocated — to a much greater degree — to areas of priority such as education and healthcare, rather than to factors such as defense.

According to the New York Times, 10% of the money generated from the nation’s factory output is used to produce weapons which are then sold to the Department of Defense. A study from the  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that the combination of Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP and the ACA combined made up 26% of the nation’s budget in 2017 while 15% went to defense and security. Education received only 3%.

America depends on war. According to Stebbins and Comen from USA Today, the United States remains the “top arms-producing nation in the world.” America profits greatly from the production of defense technology, and in order for this to continue, spending within the country for such an industry will proceed to grow. The military complex in the United States is a combination of contractors, individuals or organizations that provide military services, such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon, companies that reported a combined profit of nearly $100 billion in 2017.

Terrorism can be a great threat to any country. However, the Wilson Center found that the number of terrorist attacks in the Middle East and North Africa actually decreased in 2018. The Center also reported that the largest decline in terrorist attack fatalities has been in Iraq, which had 75% fewer deaths, along with Syria, which saw a 40% decline. This goes to show that terrorism is no longer the prime reason for the American government to remain in such regions. It is very much apparent that what the nation is more interested in is the monetary gain in selling militaristic machines to war-torn countries. This in turn is not an action plan to combat terrorism, but in actuality a play on greed which can put the lives of civilians in danger when corrupt leaders in countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are sold military technology.

According to Our World in Data, when a terrorist attack occurs, it receives significantly more media coverage if the perpetrator is Muslim. Since the majority of wars waged by America itself have been centered in the Middle East and profit comes from selling weapons to many leaders within Islamic groups, it benefits the United States to continue to incite fear amongst the people. This fear is then used to feed America’s greed for more economic welfare. After all, per Al Jazeera, “75% of the fallen in these wars come from working class families. They do not need war. They pay the cost of the war.” Thus, the extent of our military and its industrial success has sacrificed people to benefit the few. How much longer will we accept this?

Out of all of the surprising statistics of overspending for war, the controversial truths and the horrendous profit on such a “business,” the worst part of such an industry are stories that originate from the contract companies within our country. USA Today reported that Lockheed Martin caused the murder of innocent civilians in 2018 after a bomb the company sold to Saudi Arabia was dropped on a school bus in Yemen, killing 51 children and adults. From both an ethical and moral standpoint, why should we as humans allow our country to partake in the massacre of civilians? Why should we allow our country to allocate more of our hard-earned money, to a greater extent, to the military supported by privatized companies rather than prioritizing our education, health and infrastructure?

While all of this information may seem overwhelming or too controversial, let it be known that, over 300,00 civilians have died and another 21 million have been displaced due to violence according to CNBC. It is our tax money that’s allowing such nonsense to occur and continue. Our country is ruining the lives of not only our citizens, but also those of people in other parts of the world for the greed of a small percentage of privately-owned companies and people in Congress. Let this abomination end.

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