The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Can a Bad Economy Finally Discipline the Pentagon?



Hellman is communications liaison at the National Priorities Project and recently wrote the piece "Putting the Pentagon on a Diet." He said today: "With the current economic situation bringing suffering, foreclosure and unemployment to millions, and concerns about spiraling deficits as well as a staggering national debt, the first faint signs of a possible mood change in Washington on the issue of the Pentagon budget are appearing.

"If you need a signal that something is changing, then check out the Pentagon itself. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates clearly sees the handwriting on the wall. In a series of early-May speeches during what Washington analysts dubbed 'Austerity Week,' he and other Pentagon officials began warning the military that the military's carefree spending days were over. ...

"According to the latest figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States accounts for 42 percent of total global military spending, more than exceeding the combined spending of the next 15 most powerful countries. [But] make no mistake, Gates has no intention of contributing Pentagon dollars to reducing the debt. His efforts are merely an acknowledgment of our nation's weak economy, and the fact that fewer dollars will be available for any government program, even favored military ones.

"The mere fact that even Defense Department officials are beginning to discuss fewer dollars for the Pentagon, however, offers an opportunity for Americans intent on reining in rampant military spending. It is a chance that has been a long time coming, is finally on the national agenda, and, if missed, might be an even longer time in coming again."

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