Jim Crawford: Rethinking the meaning of national security

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 22, 2021

If national security is war planes and ships, tanks and troops, 200 bases around the globe, and enough nuclear weapons to destroy the planet, then the United States is 101 percent secure and, at a cost beyond imagination, $16 trillion dollars since 2000 alone, with $740 billion in 2021 before the costs of the Veterans Administration.

We are spending more in peacetime than we have spent since World War II, a decidedly wartime setting.

But what if national security is more than weaponry? What if security for Americans includes pandemic protections, protection from climate change that can make the planet uninhabitable, avoiding food and water shortages that threaten lives in the homeland and ensuring access to affordable health care for every citizen?

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And what if being the world’s largest purveyor of the sales of military weapons is not only failing to provide “security,” but is killing civilians across the globe, while failing to advance democracy, and, instead, contributing to the use of raw killing power to those who purchase from the U.S.?

Is that enhancing our security?

It is well past time to end our corrupt and politically motivated partnership with the makers of perpetual war machinery.

It is time to address actual security issues in America, not prepare for wars that are not coming against enemies who pose no military threat.

America still has enemies, but their weaponry of choice are cyber attacks and disinformation. And our defenses are amazingly deficient and outdated. If we sold off just one of our aircraft carriers at cost ($13 billion) we could probably fund some serious cybersecurity. That would only leave us 10 aircraft carriers to defend us from about that same number of carriers worldwide by all nations combined.

Maybe we could sell off a few of the notorious F-35 aircraft, inferior in combat and in providing surface cover for our troops at a cost of $1.7 trillion for the program. Yes, nearly the amount recently passed by Congress to help our people recover from the COVID-19 pandemic that every Republican found too expensive for our people.

What we all need more than one more F-35 (we own 531 and are still making the plane no one uses) is funding for climate change to protect the planet and ourselves from droughts, extreme weather and rising oceans.

We need funding to end our dependence upon fossil fuels that are killing the planet, and to fast track our use of renewable energy sources. Today, China, not the U.S., leads in solar and wind power.

We need food security in so many places in America, and that should include food science that creates the logistics of moving unused food to outlets of need daily; programs that end food islands in our poorer communities; and programs that expand local gardens for improved access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

America needs our water and sewer systems updated, purged of the brain-killing effects of iron and other pollutants; we need water in the western U.S. distributed fairly to sustain topsoil and crops over fountains and pools.

We need to preserve what other nations know about their water supply, that it is a highly valuable national resource.

And, more than ever, given what the pandemic has revealed, we need universal health care like every other developed nation on the planet, and we need it now, politics-free, for every single American.

We have one of the highest infant mortality rates of any nation, and that loss of life is entirely unnecessary. Health care can save these new lives. They are lost because, in our system, profit is valued more than care.

The lie of national security is that the machines of war address the needs of the nation today.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator, political enthusiast and award-winning columnist living here in the Tri-State.