Letter to the Editor, replying to June 28, 2018 editorial

An editorial in the June 28, 2018 Montague Reporter muses: "Why is keeping over 800 bases in 80 countries treated as a normal fact of American life?" The implication is that the level of U.S. mili tary spending and the global "posture" of the U.S. military, as it deploys in perpetual preparation for fighting two simultaneous world-conflicts, is patently absurd. While we all take delight in a worl d which seems capable of sustaining absurdity like Wil-E-Coyote suspended above a calamitous fall, i f the posture of the U.S. military is absurd then it is a remarkably enduring absurdity, having pers isted since 1942, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and onward into the future as far as anyone can see.

Unfortunately, I think critics of military spending may have to conceed to supporters that the U.S. military is, in fact, crucial to sustaining our way of life. A cursory examination of American big business reveals as much. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, firms with greater than 1000 employees employ the largest number of working people and, crucially, provide an absolute majority o f higher paying "middle class" jobs. And, the share of employment belonging to big business is growi ng. The wages and resulting lifestyles of Americans depend on big business and big business depends upon the importation of cheap manufactured goods, and the ability to enforce "intellectual property" rig hts across international borders, and the global flow of dollars underlying it all, an ordering of t he world inconceivable without force to maintain it. And this is without considering the numerous direct subsidies from the military to the U.S. domestic economy, from "Silicon Valley" to Walmart.

Proponents of a federal "jobs guarantee," such as Democratic N.Y. congressional candidate Ocasio-Cortez, must accept that this guarantee, if it puts people in jobs outside of government, will put them in "big business," much as many jobs right now are based on money funnelled through defense procure ment. These proposals to redeploy resources presume that the military is not a fully integrated par t of a system whose ends aren't easily disentngled from it's means. It is a belief in a politics o f spirit: if we will things to be different then they will be. To act as if war is not necessary to the livelihood and lifestyle of ordinary Americans takes the critic out into thin air without looking down.

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