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Down the Rabbit Hole: Tracking our Military Finances
October 3, 2014
by Spencer Santilli

In the six years since the historic moment Barack Obama took his oath of office the global community has marked his importance with the endowment of a Nobel Peace Prize, “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” With America’s recent military operations in Syria, our peaceful president has now bombed seven countries in six years— disregarding the likely possibility that there have been covert attacks in other countries. There have been documented airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and now Syria. For fourteen years across two presidential regimes the United States has been engaged militarily in the Middle East at the expense of taxpayers and for the sake of our “safety.” Once again the politicking notion of a threat to the homeland is drumming up support for an increased role in the fight against the Islamic State—and the country returns to war funded with an empty wallet.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, which sometimes I wish I was, you’re aware of the radical Islamic terrorist group that has been self-named the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” (ISIS) The group has slaughtered thousands of innocents, displaced millions, and threatened the world over (Canada has been no exception). After the brutal executions of American journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, President Obama responded. With a confident and terse message, the president explained our plan of action to pursue and ultimately destroy ISIS—more can be read about the speech over on our blog. This was Peacemonger Obama, preaching death to bring terrorist murderers to justice.

The United States has been the global standard for military might since World War II, and has never been afraid to use force to impose its will on the world. At the heart of this foreign policy is a booming military industrial complex that weaves in and out of political circles, corporate boards, and taxpayer bank accounts. With our recent surge of attacks in Iraq and Syria the United States can once again roll out the red carpet to display our military power for the world to see. Tomahawk missiles, drones, fighter jets and high-tech battle cruisers have all been hastily deployed to strike down these terrorists who threaten the security of the Middle East and the American homeland.

Let us examine the famed Tomahawk cruise missile first. Manufactured by death dealers and government best friend Raytheon, the Tomahawk has a current price of $1,590,000 per missile. As of September 29th it was been reported that 47 of these have been launched at targets in Iraq and Syria equating $74,730,000. In the grand scheme of things that’s a mere drop in the bucket of our spending, but that is seventy four million dollars that could have been invested in education, infrastructure, or a plethora of other programs. In addition to our use of cruise missiles, the United States has not hesitated to bring out all of the best toys from the Air Force. It has been reported that several different aircraft have been used to carry out attacks in both Iraq and Syria. That list includes…

1.) B-1 Bomber – Unit Cost of approximately $283 million

2.) F-15E Strike Eagle – Unit Cost of approximately $30 million

3.) F-16 Falcons – Unit Cost of approximately $20 million

4.) F-22 Raptors – Unit Cost of $350 million (Total Program cost $66.7 Billion)

This brief list does not include drones, high-altitude surveillance planes, or any humanitarian aid planes—none of which are cheap. So if we were to use just one of these planes each, and we aren’t, that is approaching $700 million in just base technology. This is without accounting for astronomical amounts of jet fuel and any of the weapons that are being delivered by these planes. Another $700 million that would have been better spent building vast fields of solar panels, windmills, and green energy sources that would provide a vastly more beneficial outcome for humanity. We can’t even repair our own infrastructure or feed millions in our own country, yet we leap at the chance to launch multi-million dollar missiles to “protect our freedom.”

I understand our desire for safety, and I believe ISIS is a threat, but if this is the minimum cost of protecting that—when do we stop? Maybe I sound hypocritical in my opinions here, being that for weeks I’ve vouched for a globally organized coalition to combat and fight ISIS and now here I sit, lambasting the government for not killing people in an economical manner. It is all so seriously twisted and backwards I don’t know what to think anymore. Trust me, the irony of the entire situation does not escape me in the least. What were the pretenses under which Bush and Cheney entered Iraq for in the first place—to liberate the Iraqi people and to find weapons of mass destruction? We did neither of these things, and our removal of Saddam Hussein (as well as other factors) is a large reason we have the problems we do today. The United States destabilized the entire region when we went into Iraq, and it’s awful to say but I would contemplate trading one Saddam Hussein for the terrorist group we are combating today.

The US led coalition is attacking ISIS because they are using violence to coerce support for their opinions while causing a humanitarian crisis across three countries and threatening to spread throughout the globe. As a counterpoint, what is that coalition doing in response? They are using fear, violence and murder with futuristic weaponry to liberate the region. So, I’ll try to simplify. We are using our own hyper advanced military might to kill those who disagree with the way the rest of the world works. We are doing this because they are using far less advanced military power to coerce support of what the rest of the world views as insane. When you include the fact that ISIS is using American made weapons left behind for the Iraqi Army, this whole situation devolves into an entirely different level of cluster-fuck.

The threat of terrorism has governed this country for the better part of two decades now. My childhood was sculpted by the dramatic events of 9/11 and my future children will forever be molded by this continual “war on terror.” The government and the media like to induce fear of a physical attack on an airliner or subway train—but is the damage done by those events worth trillions of unrecoverable debt and the unstable financial future we have today? Not too long ago I read The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton and I think an important parallel can be drawn to the situation at hand. In the book an unknown virus is brought back from space on a interstellar satellite. The virus mutates and changes when presented with conditions that are knew and unfavorable to its own preservation. At one point, the scientists involved consider nuking the town in which the virus crash landed in order to stop the spread of the contagion to more populated areas. However, as they are about to launch the missile a scientist notices that the virus multiplies and spreads even faster when immersed in the heat and catastrophe an explosion would bring. Is the world not doing the same thing? We are using missiles to combat a viral ISIS faction that will only spread and gain support the more damage and death we attempt to inflict upon it?

As we know now from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an American aerial bombardment is an even more effective terrorist recruitment tool than anything these groups could do on their own. If you were to look at ISIS as a college, albeit they’d be the worst one, they are actively recruiting their version of “athletes” to join their ranks. For all any of us know, our tax bought Tomahawk missile just helped ISIS recruit the terrorist version of Jadaveon Clowney who is beyond “pro-ready.”


COST TO COMBAT ISIS:  $788,900,000



COST TO COMBAT ISIS:  $821,358,300



-Spencer James
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