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Dodging the costs of the warfare state.

THE NEW YORK TIMES BEGAN the week of September 19 with an editorial that typifies the media mindset of the warfare state.

The editorial warns of dire consequences from a growing deficit that has been boosted by tax cuts--in combination with "the pre-Katrina priorities laid down by Mr. Bush." Those priorities include a U.S. military budget that has reached half a trillion dollars per year. But the Times editorial doesn't devote a single word to military spending or the Iraq war.

Why not mention the option of an American pull-out from Iraq, where the U.S. war effort has already drained $200 billion from taxpayers? Well, those who determine editorial positions at the New York Times--and the other major newspapers in the country--can't bring themselves to call for a quick end to the U.S. military role in that country.

Fierce criticism of White House policies is routinely compatible with support for militarism. When the Times condemned the Bush administration's handling of hurricane relief in a September 2 editorial, the final paragraph included this unequivocal sentence: "America clearly needs a larger active-duty Army." z

Now, fiscal conservatives in Congress are squawking about what federal expenditures for the Gulf Coast will do to the deficit. Contradictions between humane rhetoric and death-machine spending are more glaring than ever. The domestic economic toll of U.S. militarism should be on the table--not swept under the rug.

The people of the United States are far ahead of politicians in Washington and top editors in the New York Times building. On September 17 the Times reported the results of a poll it had just completed in tandem with CBS News. Nationwide support for the Iraq war had fallen to an all-time low. ("Only 44 percent now say the United States made the right decision in taking military action against Iraq.") And the survey also round: "With Hurricane Katrina already costing the federal government tens of billions of dollars, more than 8 in 10 Americans are very or somewhat concerned that the $5 billion being spent each month on the war in Iraq is draining away money that could be used in the United States."

The enormous financial burden of continuing with U.S. military intervention in Iraq is an issue that could be devastating for the right-wing zealots who now hold state power along Pennsylvania Avenue. But liberal elites who refuse to call for swift withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq--whether congressional leaders of the Democratic Party or members of the New York Times editorial board--are in no position to hammer on that issue.

The public should be hearing, much more often, the kind of insights that were expressed by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953:
 Every gun that is made, every warship that
 is 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 hot spending
 money alone. It is spending the sweat of its
 laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes
 of its children. This is not a way of life at all,
 in any true sense. Under the cloud of war, it is
 humanity hanging on a cross of iron.

It's up to the antiwar movement to directly address the connections between war spending and economic distress that the Times/CBS poll says are matters of concern for more than 80 percent of the public. Along the way, the largesse for the Pentagon's corporate contractors can be put in the context of militarism that is killing many Americans and many more Iraqis.

This moment in history offers a crucial opportunity to widen opposition to the Iraq war--and the entire warfare state.

Norman Solomon is the author of the new book War Made Easy. How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. For information, go to:
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Title Annotation:MEDIA BEAT
Author:Solomon, Norman
Publication:The Humanist
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2005
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