In his article "No more unto the breach: Why war is futile" (Harper's magazine, March 2003), Jonathan Schell writes: “(A)lmost every political creed was adequate for winning independence. Liberal democracy (the United States in 1776, Eastern Europe in the 1980s and ‘90s), Communism (China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba), racism (the Boers of South Africa), militarism (any number of South American states), theocracy (Iran and Afghanistan in the 1980s), and even monarchy (Germany in the first half of the nineteenth century) all proved adequate foundations on which to base self-determination. … If force remained the essence of power and the final arbiter in politics, then the British today would rule India, the United States would preside over South Vietnam, the apartheid regime would survive in South Africa, the Communist Party would rule over the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union would rule over Eastern Europe. That none of these things is the case testifies to the capacity of cooperative power to defeat superior force.”
The U.S. does not seem to have learned that lesson, as the bulk of its forces are still bogged down abroad, primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. has the largest military budget in the world, and its military expenditures account for nearly half of the world total. The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) notes, “While the U.S. has invested hundreds of billions of dollars to build capabilities to fight and win wars, little money or time has been invested in developing the tools necessary to prevent deadly conflict. As a result, when U.S. policymakers look for tools to respond to wars and escalating conflicts, they find a toolbox with only one implement—a military hammer.”
In the current recession Congress must also look at the disproportionate allocation of funds to the military. For example, while investing $1 billion in the military creates 8,555 jobs, FCNL estimates the same amount invested in health care creates 10,779 jobs, in infrastructure 12,804 jobs, and in education 17,687 jobs.