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Beating Swords into Plowshares: Freeing the Resources of the Military-Financial Complex for Human Advancement

Billions wasted on the military like this M1A2 Abrams tank. Credit: U.S. Army photo by Capt. Dan Yarnal

The enormous amounts of money, time, resources, and human labor and ingenuity wasted annually in military expenses is mind-boggling. Maintaining a foreign policy based on hegemonism and domination brings destruction across the world, and decay at home.

The concept of “beating swords into plowshares” is now more relevant than ever. This transformation represents a strategic pivot of the military-financial-industrial complex towards producing high-tech products crucial for such fields as infrastructure, manufacturing, fusion research, and space science. As we have reported, simply in monetary terms, the enormous sums wasted since the 2001 beginning of the “Global War on Terror” could have built a U.S. nationwide network of high-speed rail, continental water management based on the proposed North American Water and Power Alliance, numerous nuclear power plants, experimental (or by now, commercial) fusion reactors, and enough space modules to begin serious permanent work on the Moon.

We don’t have those things today, and it’s because of bad choices made over decades, and the cultural errors that allow those foolish decisions to be made.

As President Eisenhower remarked in 1953: “Every gun that is made, every warship that is launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense, a theft, from those who hunger, and are not fed, those who are cold, and are not clothed.… It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

The productive capacity currently creating the weapons being lavished upon Israel in its military operation to expel the Palestinians of Gaza could instead be called upon to develop the canals, desalination, irrigation, and energy infrastructure of the Oasis Plan, winning a war against the desert and underdevelopment.

Bring to mind the world situation today: defenders of “democracy” in the United States are working to prevent American citizens from voting for the leading challenger to the current President, the U.S. is pushing for a declaration by the G7 in February of seizure of the $300 billion worth of currently frozen Russian assets, Israel stands accused by South Africa before the International Court of Justice, and Western press are preparing their readers for the inevitable bad news (known for a long time by readers of this publication) of a failure to “defeat” Russia.

The time is ripe for a worldwide recalibration of values, for a shift in the policies guiding national and social decisions. It is time to foster and act on the freedom to do good!