Preface from Space & Ocean Exploration: The Alternative to the Military-Industrial Complex
This book is a practical policy alternative to reduce defense spending without increasing unemployment. It is common knowledge the United States spends more money on defense than the next 20 nations combined. Clearly, much of the spending is hidden from public scrutiny in other agencies and re-labeled under other priorities. The true size of the United States defense budget was approximately $931 billion for 2013. This spending is justified to fight a new enemy, “terrorists”. The “War on Terror” replaced the previous enemy, “Godless Communism,” which replaced the previous enemy, “fascism”.
Although it is no longer true, many people on our small planet believe the United States is the greatest threat to world peace. Since World War II, the United States has bombed more nations, supported more dictators and invaded more countries than all other nations combined. From 1945 to 2015, the United States dropped more bombs on other nations than all ordnance used in World War I and II. Over 3,000,000 people have been killed by American-created conflicts and millions more have been wounded. Entire nations have been destroyed and millions of refugees have been created. We remain the most powerful nation in humanity’s history. Endless war has not brought peace.
All 435 U.S. congressional districts have either a defense contractor or a military installation. As of 2015, the United States has 730 military installations in 50 countries. The Department of Defense is the nation’s largest employer. Defense industries are so intertwined with the economy that the United States can’t just “cut” defense spending. That would create unemployment in thousands of communities. That is why we need an economically viable alternative to defense spending.
Eisenhower’s Military Industrial Complex is actually a giant economic program created by the defense spending coalition. This coalition includes universities, labor unions, agricultural communities, the various branches of the military and, obviously, defense contractors and their allies in Congress. It is one of the most powerful lobbies in Congress. The defense spending coalition will get the tax dollars, so it seems prudent to give them a new mission.
I propose Congress redirect some of this defense spending toward space and ocean exploration. This will demilitarize the American economy and create millions of new jobs as well as entire new industries. Give the aerospace contractors exploration of the inner solar system. They are naturally suited to transition from “defense” to space exploration. Mars needs to be explored, terraformed and colonized. It is doable in our lifetime and, if civilization is to survive, it must be pursued.
Because of the costly failure of the Iraq War, we can no longer pursue space exploration alone. We will need to work with the Chinese, Russians, the European Union, India and Brazil as well as other countries to pull off this massive endeavor. The Iraq war broke the bank. Space and ocean exploration can fix our economic problems. Using the aerospace and navy contractors and congressional districts, explore the inner solar system and the ocean floor.
The only area on this small planet that has not been fully explored is the ocean floor. If U.S. Navy contractors can build nuclear submarines, they can build ocean-mining vessels and robots to explore the ocean bottom. Trust me, the ocean bottom is at least as interesting as the moon’s behind.
The fish stocks are collapsing. We propose the creation of a Global High Seas Marine Preserve, closing off the high seas to commercial fishing. The U.S. Navy working with navies of other countries can enforce wildlife zones in the oceans that will revive the fish stocks. The problem of the collapse of the fish stocks and plastic in the ocean cannot be solved with 10 U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups or by one nation. We need to work together with other nations. Ecosystems do not recognize national boundaries.
The Iraq war was an expensive moral disaster. Approximately 1 million Iraqis have been killed, millions more are wounded and over 4 million are refugees. Iraq is now engaged in a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The actual cost of the war was over $3 trillion dollars and paid for on credit. The civil war between the Shia and the Sunni continues and has spilled over to neighboring countries. Needless to say, not one drop of oil was created by this war. It did nothing to improve “national security.” In fact, it made the world less secure.
Despite the huge environmental problems facing our tiny planet, I am optimistic. Environmental problems can be solved. With governments, industry and non-profits all working together, we can and will change humanity’s path from consumerism and conspicuous consumption to sustainability and co-existence with our Earth Mother. Young people understand environmental problems and are willing to make a difference. Be optimistic — the change begins with you.