By Zachary J. Guiod
We live in a state of perpetual war. I’m 20 years old, and I don’t remember a time when my country was not at war — and I’m sure this is the case for many of you as well. One of the strangest things about being at never-ending war is that it somehow makes it less of a big deal. Unless you have a close friend or family member in active combat overseas, the wars we wage aren’t at the forefront of the mind of the average American. I think it’s time our never-ending wars got some attention, because mainstream media won’t cover them.
When President Obama took office in 2009, the country was involved in two offensive wars started by Bush. By the end of Obama’s term we were involved in seven offensive wars, with a combination of boots on the ground and aerial drone strikes. Obama, who ironically won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, dropped 26,171 bombs in 2016. Our current President didn’t want to be outdone by his predecessor, and since taking office Donald Trump dropped 9,000 more bombs than Obama did in 2016 and has increased drone strikes 432 percent compared to Obama’s last year in the White House. This goes to show that regardless of political party, our elected representatives love to bomb foreign countries that didn’t attack us.
I bet you, the reader, doesn’t even know what countries we are currently bombing. In 2017 the U.S. military dropped bombs in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. Do you know much do we spend on our yearly “defense” budget? $700 billion, more than the next nine countries combined — and five of those countries are our strong allies. The United States has over 800 military bases in 80 countries around the world and it costs a staggering $100 billion per year to maintain them.
With all this money and resources going towards death and destruction, one thought keeps coming to mind: What could we do with that money if we weren’t involved in so many wars? Flint, Michigan, still doesn’t have clean water after four years of national attention. Twenty-nine million Americans don’t have health insurance. Student-loan debt is at an all-time high, and college graduates leave school with an average $37,172 of debt. The state of perpetual war that we exist in clearly doesn’t benefit the average American, so who does it benefit?
Defense contractors love our never-ending wars. This is why it doesn’t matter if Democrats or Republicans control the government, because both political parties are in the pocket of the military-industrial complex. Two of the biggest defense contractors in the military-industrial complex are Boeing and Lockheed Martin. In 2015 Lockheed Martin spent $14 million lobbying politicians and in return they were awarded $36.2 billion. Boeing spent $22 million on lobbying and was given $16.6 billion the same year. We can see by these numbers that these corporations’ profits depend on war, so they give money to politicians to ensure that they vote for more war and reward them with government contracts.
After 17 years, the War on Terror has been an abysmal failure. Not only have we managed to waste trillions of dollars on wars that have not made us safer, we have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people and pushed many to embrace extremist ideologies because of our actions. It’s time for us, as a country, to admit that we are in the wrong and put an end to the perpetual wars that many of us have lived with for most of our lives.