Rep. Adam Smith and military spending

Washington’s Rep. Adam Smith of the 9th Congressional District is the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.  Smith figures prominently in the Jan 28 issue of the The New Yorker, in the article “The Force” about the power and cost of the military-industrial complex and about America’s obsession with violence and militarism.

At a 2011 hearing, the Republican Chairman, Howard P. McKeon, strongly defended the military and spoke out against reductions to the military budget.  His comments were echoed by testimony from two former chairs of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former vice-chair. They said, Look at all the threats we face! Etc, etc.

None of this was contested by anyone, including the ranking Democrat, Adam Smith, a lawyer from Bellevue, Washington, who has served on the House Armed Services Committee since 1997 and who agreed that “defense is in an incredibly vulnerable position” because budget cuts, which could lead to force reductions and base closings, would “change the equation of of power projection.”  ….  He asked a question, which was purely rhetorical: “What if, all of a sudden, we don’t have troop in Europe, we don’t have troops in Asia, we are just, frankly, like pretty much every other country in the world?”

The article describes the problem facing the United States. Our country spends more on defense than all the other nations of the world combined. “The United States, a nation founded on opposition to a standing Army, is now a nation engaged in a standing war.” (See, for example, Thomas Jefferson’s opposition to standing armies.)  “The United States, separated from much of the world by two oceans and bordered by allies, is, by dint of geography, among the best-protected countries on earth.  Nevertheless, six decades after V-J Day nearly three hundred thousand American troops are stationed overseas.”  “We have hundreds of military bases all over the world.”   Rather than defending the homeland, “the U.S. military enforces American foreign policy.”

“Lockheed Martin spends fifteen million dollars a year on lobbying efforts and campaign contributions.”  Shouldn’t such spending should be illegal for government contractors?

“The company was the single largest contributor to Buck McKeon’s last campaign. (Lockheed Martin has a major R. & D. center in McKeon’s congressional district.) This patronage hardly distinguishes McKeon from his colleagues….” Lockheed Martin contributed to 51 of the 62 members of the House Armed Services Committee.

Andrew Bacevich, a former colonel in the US Army and now a professor at Boston University, points out that Americans “have fallen prey to militarism, manifesting itself in a romanticized view of soldiers, a tendency to see military power as the truest measure of national greatness, and outsized expectations regarding the efficacy of force.” (quoted in the New Yorker article)

Such views are reinforced by Hollywood movies and by TV programs that glorify righteous violence.

Chairman McKeon’s district is home to a naval weapons station, an Army fort, an Air Force base, and a Marines training area. Adam Smith’s current district, the 9th CD, extends from Tacoma north to Redmond. Prior to redistricting, the district went as far south as Olympia and included several military bases, including McChord Air Force Base and the Army’s Fort Lewis.  Apparently, the northward movement of Smith’s district, into more urban and liberal areas, may be accompanied by a leftward tilt of Smith’s political leanings.

According to Wikipedia, “In 2012, Smith cosponsored the National Defense Authorization Bill that would grant the President of the United States unprecedented powers to wage war freely against persons abroad and detaining and restricting access to the civil court system by persons suspected of terrorism. ”  But more recently, Smith has stated his opposition to the intrusive parts of NDAA.  See this and this and this.

At the beginning of this year, Smith voted against the budget deal, saying, it makes “getting to a reasonable ten-year plan far more difficult by making permanent 90 percent of the Bush Tax Cuts. By not allowing those tax cuts to expire, and then making them permanent, we took $3.5 Trillion of revenue off the table. This will lead to one of two results, both of which I am strongly against. Either our debt will climb over 100 percent of GDP or we will have to make devastating cuts in vital programs like Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, education, transportation, and more.”

I hope to meet with Congressman Smith, accompanied by like-minded progressives, in an effort to lobby him to help rein in the out-of-control military spending that is bankrupting our nation.  I reside in Smith’s district.

Related article: Revelations about the out-of-control US security state

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