Letters to the Editor

Defense cuts

August 13, 2011


To the editor:

When reporters recently interviewed Leon Panetta, secretary of Defense, about what should be cut from defense spending, his response was predictable. It was like asking a Wall Street CEO if their system of outlandish bonuses ought to continue. Panetta is one of many politicians subservient to contractors and war profiteers who jealously guard an ever-growing and all-consuming machine that President Eisenhower referred to as the “military industrial complex.”

Thanks to corporate-owned media with financial ties to war for profit, defense spending is venerated as a sacred cow exempt from investigation. During the Cold War, the public was scared into a paralysis of analysis as the media employed terms like “communism” and “domino theory.” Today, TV viewers are kept in check with the constant rhetoric of “war on terror,” “terrorist threats” and “September 11.”

Yes, we do need a strong national defense, largely because of all the hornets’ nests we have stirred up by arming oppressive regimes and by the proliferation of our own military interventions. Nevertheless, it is our patriotic duty to hold Washington accountable for every defense dollar that is superfluous or counterproductive to the genuine demands of our country’s security.

Outside of a popular movement to challenge wasteful defense spending, the military industrial complex will soon devour seniors’ modest benefits and monies for our children’s education. Moreover, America’s underfunded infrastructures will resemble those of a Third World nation.


Liberty275 6 years, 9 months ago

So, what specifically should we cut, and why?

Jimo 6 years, 9 months ago

For a start ..............

Strategic Capabilities 1. Reduce the US nuclear arsenal; adopt dyad; cancel Trident II • 1000 deployed warheads • 7 Ohio-class SSBNs • 160 Minuteman missiles $113.5 b. 2. Limit modernization of nuclear weapons infrastructure and research $26 b. 3. Selectively curtail missile defense & space spending $55 b. Conventional Forces 4. Reduce troops in Europe and Asia, cut end strength by 50,000 $80 b. 5. Roll back Army & USMC growth as wars in Iraq and Afghanistan end $147 b. 6. Reduce US Navy fleet to 230 ships $126.6 b. 7. Only retire two Navy aircraft carriers and naval air wings $50 b. 8. Retire two Air Force fighter wings, reduce F-35 buy $40.3 b. Procurement and R&D 9. Cancel USAF F-35, buy replacement $47.9 b. 10. Cancel USN & USMC F-35, buy replacement $9.85 b. 11. Cancel MV-22 Osprey, field alternatives $10 b. – $12 b. 12. Delay KC-X Tanker, interim upgrade of some KC-135s $9.9 b 13. Cancel Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, field alternatives $8 b. – $9 b. 14. Reduce spending on research & development $50 b. Personnel Costs 15. Military compensation reform $55 b. 16. Reform DoD’s health care system $60 b. 17. Reduce military recruiting expenditures as wars recede $5 b. Maintenance and Supply Systems 18. Improve the efficiency of military depots, commissaries, and exchanges $13 b. Command, Support, and Infrastructure 19. Require commensurate savings in command, support, and infrastructure $100 b.

ljwhirled 6 years, 9 months ago

I assume those are 10 year numbers?

I agree on most points, but see a couple problems:

  1. R&D should continue to be fully funded. That's where future savings are discovered. It also has a tendency to produce technologies that benefit everyone (i.e. DARPAnet = Internet).
  2. We really need the KC-767. The 135s are getting pretty long in the tooth.
  3. You forgot to kill F-22. They have been grounded since May with no national security consequences. Lets retire them for good. Stealth was a great idea, but passive radar is going to beat it. The navy has the right idea. Electronic Warfare and HARM are the way to go.
  4. The F-35 might still be a winner. Lets wait until the platform comes up to speed before we judge it.

Still, as a member of the military, if our civilian leadership works to keep us out of foreign entanglements, we could cut expenditures significantly.

Right now we spend as much as the rest of earth combined. If we could get our expenditures to 1/2 that, we would still be able to fight a full scale war against a major Asian power, while still securing our own borders.

Jimo 6 years, 9 months ago

Indeed. Short of a combined attack by every other nation on earth against us simultaneously, I'm unclear how we justify our over the top gross expenditure. A handy chart to serve as a reminder: http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/DefenseSpending_1/DefenseSpending?amp;:tabs=no&:embed=y&:toolbar=yes&:tabs=no&:toolbar=yes

Jimo 6 years, 9 months ago

  1. The cuts to R&D come, not from true research, but as an inevitable consequence of cancelling procurement of new items. New weapons must be tested, modified, etc. Canceling them also eliminates the need for, and cost of, R&D associated with them.

Jimo 6 years, 9 months ago

  1. The KC-135 is indeed "long in the tooth."

But the CBO concluded that: A. The KC-135 still has "significant structural life" that could be extended with some upgrading, B. And delay would allow continued development of a 787 alternative, likely to have significantly lower operation costs (and might allow longer production runs as others would also have uses for this new 787 aircraft).

Jimo 6 years, 9 months ago

I can't recall what part about the F-35 first made me question it: the fact that the lifetime expense is supposed to be $1,000,000,000,000 or the fact that the successful projection of Chinese power out into the Pacific would make the plane obsolete in a few years.

The F-35 is the epitome of all that's wrong with military procurement. It's supposed to be built and procured in 3 different versions, which supposedly reduces future costs. But the real world effort of combining its promised features--capacity to engage opposing fighters at close quarters, avionics, and stealth--is driving costs through the roof and requiring design changes that leave the F-35 overweight and underpowered.

Even if the F-35 delivered on all its promises (much in doubt), it's more fighter than is necessary to match any projected threat. Loading up individual weapons with every capacity one could want rather than analyzing the technology needed as an intergral part of the whole of military performance (tech, skill, morale, training, support, coordination) is what leads to a long history of late and overcosts (and at time under capacity) weapons systems.

I don't agree with the absurd "we're broke" claim but anyone can see that, at a time when we're actually discussing abolishing Medicare and handing coupons to future retirees with a 'good luck' wish, we can't sink this sort of money into a new fighter without a stronger case being made for it. We'd be better off cancelling or delaying the F-35, making due with what we have, and refocusing on the next shiny fighter just over the horizon.

Jimo 6 years, 9 months ago

The larger point is not to defend this specific list but rather the unbelievable absurdity we get, even from this Administration, that cutting military spending significantly would be a disaster. Heck, no one is even discussing cutting it back to where it was a decade ago.

We just can't keep getting involved in conflicts at the drop of a hat especially where we're expect to take and hold territory.

Rather than debating so called "Balanced Budget Amendments" we'd be better off matching military spending to a fixed percentage of the budget and requiring off-budget costs (fighting wars) be paid for in real time by surtaxes. Imagine if the debate over Iraq was: shall we invade and boost everyone's income taxes 20%; shall we stay and continue that 20% bump indefinitely? I realize it was only for partisan purposes but the Democrats did propose that we pay for the Iraq war instead of borrowing, and it was the GOP who nixed that proposal in the bud. Remember that the next time you hear someone squawk "live within our means."

devobrun 6 years, 9 months ago

While I think we should disengage from Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq, I don't think "the hornets’ nests we have stirred up by arming oppressive regimes and by the proliferation of our own military interventions" is true either.

Face it. It is the inability of Islamic countries to govern themselves in any way not totalitarian. The springtime overthrow of North African rulers has not resolved the problems that exist in the countries that are now free of their rulers. People in Morocco are truly conflicted by their king and their wish for more freedom. Egyptians have replaced a ruler with a military regime.

Islamic countries cannot rule themselves. Their people aren't aculturated in a way that allows it. Our military is trying to help the people of those Islamic states find a way for them to grow into states with some form of representative government and it isn't working (Iraq). Their problem isn't western government intervention in those countries. The problem is with the people and culture of the countries.

We need to get out, Liberty275. That would be a large cut in military spending right there. Reduce costs involved in foreign deployment of troops. Reduce federal military employment and retask soldiers as National Guard. Send them to Texas, Arizona New Mexico and California. Stop almost all of the illegal activity across the Mexican border.
Use military cuts to fund drug programs.
Make a change we can believe in.

Liberty275 6 years, 9 months ago

OK, out of Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq. Now. Check! We agree there.

"Reduce costs involved in foreign deployment of troops"

That's vague enough to be meaningless.

"Reduce federal military employment and retask soldiers as National Guard"

Pull them out of one branch and force them into another... I'm not sure that's legal, and I don't see the savings anyway.

"Send them to Texas, Arizona New Mexico and California."

Illegal. Posse Comitatus..

"Use military cuts to fund drug programs. "

See Above.

"Make a change we can believe in."

Ignore federal law while you do it!

What next, because we need to cut about 10 times that much. Nothing about the divisions scattered across Europe, financing west germany and greece in part with our tax dollars? How about we get out of South Korea and quit fighting a half century old war? Scrap some ships, sell army bases. Cut hard. Abandon our allies (that never were our allies to start with) Put half of our soldiers on unemployment today. Cut their benefits to nil.

"Stop almost all of the illegal activity across the Mexican border. "

Non-stupid drug policy would do most of that for free. When was the last time you heard about a drug cartel smuggling Dos Equis? Stay thirsty my friend. Allowing seasonal workers unfettered access to our country would solve the rest. And we could keep getting cheap tomatos

Or just go the simple route, cut the military's budget by 75% and let the generals whine until they come up with their own answer..

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Putting half of the soldiers out of work, and reneging on their benefits, seems like a breach of contract, or at least a breach of promise, if they were promised certain benefits when they enlisted.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

If the "work" isn't really producing anything useful, what difference does it make where they collect their paychecks? Why not bring them home, where we could continue to give them their paychecks, and maybe even see if they couldn't do something useful here for that money? Lord knows there's plenty that needs to be done.

And implementing a national healthcare plan would mean that the veterans' heath benefits would no longer be necessary.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

That's a rather different idea from "bring them home, cut off all of their benefits, and add them to the unemployed", which is what Liberty275 suggested.

Your idea is much more reasonable.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

So no government contracts are valid, in your view?

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

What government contracts could be valid, if the reason they are invalid is that they're not made with their own money, but rather ours?

The only thing I could imagine would be private contracts made my politicians in their private lives, but those wouldn't count as "government" contracts.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

If you have an answer, please post it.

I don't want to play guessing games.

devobrun 6 years, 9 months ago

"Politicians don't pledge their own money but ours, hence the contract is void"

Liberty_One, If an elected official (or their representative) in our government (a republic) enters into a contract on behalf of the government, he does so with the tacit agreement of the people. When that contract involves money from the people to pay the contract, again it is done with the tacit agreement of the people.

If the people don't want to honor the contract, replace their representative. Wisconsin recalled a bunch of representatives last week. Petition to government. Change the laws, representatives, change the contract. But that is an orderly change, not a prima facie nullification of contract.

This a republic, not a democracy, Liberty_one.

Brock Masters 6 years, 9 months ago

Liberty_One, please explain how this article fits with your notion that the government can't contract. http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202424340326&slreturn=1&hbxlogin=1

Here is an excerpt which I think clearly proves you to be wrong.

The federal government recently suffered two potentially multibillion-dollar blows in long-running breach-of-contract litigation involving oil leases and spent nuclear fuel, and it now faces a third area of possible liability for broken Medicare contracts.

Brock Masters 6 years, 9 months ago

You wrote politicians can't contract and then you wrote, "Think about what is the essential moral purpose of government--to protect individual rights--and what kind of contract can flow from that which would be valid."

Sure sounded like you said governments can't contract to me. So if that isn't what you said, then what was your point?

Do you agree that governments can contract and that they can breach contracts?

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

And therefore they are "not valid contracts".

From your first post.

Are you just playing semantic games? They can make all the contracts they like, but none of them are valid?

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Then you cannot agree for me on what the correct purpose and scope of government is.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago


If you think the government should be minimal, and I (or others) disagree, why should your version prevail?

devobrun 6 years, 9 months ago

So you are an anarchist. All forms of representation will, at times, not meet your wishes. Therefore, any collective decision is invalid, even if you agree with it, because it probably will step on somebody's toes.

No roads, no police department, no utilities either. Those power lines might go through somebody's property where they don't want them.
And what about grocery stores that sell things you don't want, but don't sell things you want? They are imposing will on you implicitly. Why are you using this language? It was imposed upon you without your will at an age where you didn't have a choice.

You are using the internet on a system that was put in in a fashion that imposed upon people. Cable lines on easements, or telephone lines on poles on easements and you were told, without your ability to protest, that there will be lines on your property. Tough.

You can't avoid the collective, Liberty. Unless you go off to Montana and move into Ted Kaczynski 's old house.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

"In addition, you mistake my position of the minimum government for one of no government."

Please explain the difference. Who gets to decide what is "minimal" and what is not. Can taxation be collected at all in any way that is not totally voluntary, even if it's for a "minimal" government?

What if the majority of people decide they don't want to pay any taxes at all, even for "minimal" government? (and I assume that you believe it would be their right to refuse to pay anything.)

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

All taxes, by their nature, are required, not optional.

So, if you don't like things that are non-optional, the logical conclusion would be to oppose all forms of taxation.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

So if "minimal" government is determined exclusively by elections (flawed as our process is,) then we already have "minimal" government.

And if the questions aren't tough, why did you totally dodge answering them? Specifically, if current taxation is "theft," how can you justify the taxation that will be required to run your "minimal" government? The only difference between current taxation, and your "acceptable" taxation is the amount.

devobrun 6 years, 9 months ago

My logic is fine. Your logic might be fine...it's just that your premises and evidence and data is faulty.

Your choices are limited in ways that you don't even know. People make decisions about what is offered you based upon the collective all the time. You can't buy lobster roll in Lawrence, Ks. You can get a lobster roll at McDs in Presque Isle, Maine, for cryin' out loud.

And you didn't even know that. I do because I have spent many a day in the North Maine Woods, where the Maine state police don't go. The upper 1/3 of Maine is all private. And when you get run down by a logging truck, they don't care because they own the property and you where there and not monitoring your CB. Tough luck buddy.

I think you are an ingrate who doesn't know what he has and how he got it......including the goverment regulation fo the communication channel you are using to send me messages. And the protocols and the URLs, and the........forcing you to obey internet laws.

You should expand your definition of force to include that which you are unaware of.

devobrun 6 years, 9 months ago

Such a concrete thinker, Liberty_One. Abstraction is a sign of mature intelligence. Sigh, not college material.

Of course there is a difference between forced behavior and coerced behavior and subtle influence on behavior. It is a matter of quantity, degree. The quality is the same. You are not uninfluenced by the collective. You are probably willing to allow the city to operate on an easement for the purposes of supplying water to you and your neighbors. But if you weren't and you confronted the men with yellow machines with a reason to leave (a gun or your prostrate body below the track hoe) you would be arrested. And guns might be drawn.

Or you could bring the guys some lemonaide at 2 pm. They'd love it. And love the collective.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

It's rather funny to see you defending "the collective" and the effects of that on individuals.

You're usually much on the other side of this one.

devobrun 6 years, 9 months ago

Well jafs, the collective exists and makes individuals pull together. If we all had wells drilled in the ground for water, it would be very expensive and potentially unsafe. A collective water works makes sense.

This does not mean that a collective all things is better than individual satisfaction of needs. Collectives are sometimes useful and sometimes oppressive. Anything predicated on guilt is probably not good

If the idea doesn't work unless it is implemented globally...then it is a guaranteed turkey. Things should work, at all levels. If the collective works better, then fine. But if it doesn't work, it will be a disadter when distributed globally. Examples of government programs that are sure to fail, or are failing,

Climate Change. Welfare. Excursions to Iraq and Libya. Farm subsidies, especially to corn-based ethanol production. Environmerntal protection policies that are excessive....oh the poor snail darter.

These are but 5 examples of global solutions that don't work at any level because they are wrong. But when they wrong and don't work at a pilot project level, some beaucrat says "but if implemented on a large scale it will work". Time to run away.

It is a long list, that which is stupid and doesn't work. Oh, first clue that a government program should be stopped is a lack of critical testing. If a pilot program doesn't prove success, then stop it. Try something else.

Liberty275 6 years, 9 months ago

You would be correct. However, they come up for re-enlistment every 3-4 years. Stop re-enlisting them. Start now. If they were promised benefits, you have to cover those, but cut any that weren't expressly promised, on paper.

You guys want to cut the military, then have the guts to cut the military and quit trimming around the edges.

Either that or quit complaining about the military. I don't care either way.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

I'd also include verbal promises - verbal contracts are legally binding, and morally as well.

I agree with the re-enlistment idea - we could certainly change our policies on that without breaching any promises, unless of course they were promised the ability to re-enlist if they wanted to.

Liberty275 6 years, 9 months ago

Verbal contacts are sort of hard to prove. Are we going to give a free college degree to every soldier that says his recruiter promised him one?

Can we figure out whose set of morals we are going to use before worrying about them? I'd volunteer mine, but I seem to have lost them.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Well, if you think it's ok to breach a promise, especially one made in order to entice people to risk their lives, I think we're at an impasse.

Of course they're hard to prove, but if proven, they're valid.

Brock Masters 6 years, 9 months ago

We need a strong military, but we can make it more effective, efficient and less costly without reducing benefits to our military men and women.

Why do we need military bases in Germany? It certainly is a boost to their economy, but with today's modern mobile military do we really need to be there. Why not move the base to one of the border states, perhaps on a smaller scale and save some dollars. I think you address two issues there. One, saving dollars and protecting our borders. And, before you cite Posse Comitatus agains, I suggest that you research it a bit more and look at this article as a starting point. http://www.homelandsecurity.org/journal/articles/trebilcock.htm

The military needs to do a better job of auditing their contractors and reducing waste and fraud. How much would this generate in savings? I don't know, but regardless it is the right thing to do. Waste and fraud should never be tolerated.

Just by getting out of Afghanistan we save 10 billion per month. Now that is real money and real savings. We are not accomplishing anything by being there. Abandon the war on terrorism? No, of course not, just fight it in a meaningful and realistic way. Nation building while trying to fight and entrenched enemy is not productive.

Why do we need to be in South Korea? Let South Korea protect their own borders. Doesn't mean we abandon them, but we don't have to have a physical presence there. We can still be available to come to their aid quickly with our naval fleet and superior air power.

And it is a tired argument that what is the point in making cuts, we need 10 times that amount. Small cuts, even if they don't completely solve the problem need to be made. Enough small cuts will matter and make a difference.

We don't do enough now for our military men and women, so i would never support cuts to their pay or benefits. In fact I think they should be increased.

devobrun 6 years, 9 months ago

Reduce costs involved in foreign deployment of troops....by ending those deployments. It seems obvious to me that maintaining troops in Afhganistan is more expensive than redeploying them to the U.S. All those cargo planes, all that munition. It seems so obvious that I wonder what you are questioning.

"Pull them out of one branch and force them into another... I'm not sure that's legal, and I don't see the savings anyway." Terminate their employment in the marines, and army and offer them new jobs with the national guard. Termination will cause some to not want to come back. New deployment via the national guard will be taken by some. Cost savings will be in reduction of force, reduced costs of weaponary, and stateside deployment. It is cheaper to chase Mexican banditos off our border than it is to live right in the middle of a bunch of Taliban. First and foremost, not nearly as many soldiers will die. Dieing costs the government a lot money.

Liberty, you are responding to my suggestion without thinking. I can't list all the costs, contractual obligations and contingencies required to implement my suggestion. You figure it out. Contracts? Honor them for their lifetime and don't renew. Work a deal through congress which terminates the contract with compensation and an offer to apply to the national guard. There's lots of ways to make this work. Savings won't be this year, but additional savings will accrue over the next several years.

As far as Greece, Germany and S.Korea......sure reduce or eliminate those as well. As far as cheap labor programs allowing Mexicans across the border to work......sure. And if Mexicans can come over leagally and the illegal stuff is stopped, we will all be better off, including the Mexicans. But a secure border must be maintained if controlled immigration is to be encouraged. Manage the whole immigration thing. Monitor the people and stuff passing between us and Mexico. That starts with a border control force......ex-Iraq, Afghanistan soldiers. Not all of them. Tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

There you go again-- ignoring huge swaths of history just so you can demonstrate your bigotry towards Arabs and Muslims.

devobrun 6 years, 9 months ago

History has a nasty habit of presaging the present, bozo. And the present is usually a result of the past.
Bigotry? definition: "a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion"

No bozo. My statement is that Islam can't govern itself except through authoritarianism. There are many examples in the world today and since the inception of Islam. And the reason for that is that Muslims are taught to be subserviant, demure, modest and to take orders. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people is what they have with one major change in a word.

Replace the word "people with "Allah" And rulers hide behind Allah and invoke his word to explain everything they do. So the good, kind, gentle people of the religion of peace get steamrolled into following the authority. The village headman, the emir, the potentate, the king, the military commander.....and on and on they never question authority. I have an opinion about that, bozo. I think it is what is causing so much trouble in Islamic countries. I think that Islamic countries are in turmoil because they are trying to maintain their way of life and they have cell phones, movies, TV and the internet. They are losing their youth and we are to blame....because of who we are and the freedom we have. Islam is in trouble and their societies aren't working If that is bigoted, guilty.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

Nearly everything you say about Muslims can apply to Christians here. But not all Christians. And neither can what you say apply to all Muslims.

" I think that Islamic countries are in turmoil because they are trying to maintain their way of life and they have cell phones, movies, TV and the internet."

True, many of the more conservative elements there have objections to these technologies and the "sin" that gets conveyed through them-- same is true here for millions of conservative Christians. But the real problem they have with the West in general, and the US in particular, is our constant meddling in their internal affairs (sometimes to the extent of invasion and occupation) so that we can extract their resources.

If we'd let them sort out their own affairs, they'd still have to deal with Hollywood, etc., but that wouldn't entail flying airplanes into buildings.

devobrun 6 years, 9 months ago

But we meddle by existing, bozo. They are wildly threatened by music, video, technology and all the freedom that bleeds over to their societies irrespective of our government. We live in a way that is anathema to them. And even if we didn't support the shah, or buy oil from Libya, we would threaten Islam by our very existence.

The Taliban is a perfect example of a threatened group that would hate us regardless of our involvement in Afghanistan. The Iranian government is filled with just such people. It has been 30 years since we left Iran. We are still the evil empire and always will be because there are young people in Iran who grumble, and test, and challenge the authority of the regime. Therefore the religious authority, and therefore the teachings of the Prophet, and ultimately Allah are challenged. Infidelity is not tolerated in Iran. Death awaits infidels. And the Taliban train bombers. And the Iranians are building a nuke. Jerry Falwell was a kook.....but he wasn't training airplane hijackers.

Are we a nation dominated by Christianity? Sure, but not to an extent even close to Iran. And the teachings of Jesus are in parables, not proscriptions. Lots more leeway.

I am amazed by people who defend Islam and challenge Christianity on the basis of liberalism. Christianity tells you what to believe. Islam tells you what to believe and what to do. Same thing, but much more restrictive. How is that more liberal? 'Splain that one to the women in Iraq who want to dress the way they want to, not according to some women dress minister.

Are there Muslims who are more magnanimous? Of course, but they don't run the countries, or make the rules, bozo. And more to the point, the liberalized Muslims can't rule the rank and file Muslims, because they are not brought up to engage in self determination. It isn't the fault of the ruling class, the intelligencia, or western influence. It is the fault of education in Islamic countries that consists of memorizing the Koran. Period. Education for the masses is memorizing the proscriptions of the word of Allah revealed through the Prophet. The concept of self is non-existent. You, young Muslim are dirt. Your salvation is obedience to the word and that word is detailed in its description of your behavior, from how to talk, dress, walk, wipe your butt, eat, everything. You don't question the authority.

And western influences question Allah. Ruling Islam, the Islam supported by the majority of the people hate the west and liberalism. It is overt in the Taliban, the rulers in Iran, the rebels in the Phillipines, and all over Pakistan. The only thing in common between liberals and Islam is the hatred of America, and the liberty for which it stands.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 9 months ago

clipped from: http://muslimvoices.org/word-islam-meaning/

What Is The Meaning Of The Word “Islam”?

"In Arabic, the word “Islam” means submission or surrender – however, it was derived from the root word “salam”. From this root word, you can also derive the words peace and safety. Many people feel that Islam implies some sort of enslavement to Allah, but others find it more helpful to define the word “Islam” as surrender."

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

The Taliban grew out of our failure to help the Afghans rebuild their country after they had spent years fighting the Soviets, with our military assistance, which is probably what brought down the Soviet Union.

We had plenty of money to help them do that, and then lost interest as soon as they had finished.

See Charlie Wilson on that.

And Christianity, at least many forms of it, certainly tells people what to do as well as what to believe - that's obvious.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

I'm not defending Islam, Devo. I think it's just as superstitious as Christianity.

But I totally disagree that they hate us merely because we exist. They hate us because we (as in Western colonial powers, now replaced by Western corporate powers) constantly meddle in their internal affairs, including invasion and occupation-- something that we wouldn't tolerate if they did it to us. And as horrific as 9/11 was, the death and destruction caused that day was a tiny fraction of what the West has inflected on the Muslim/Arab world over the last 100 years or more.

The technology and media that come from the West are merely additional irritants, and they do not cause them to fly airplanes into buildings.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

I recall early in the war in Iraq, President Bush titled the campaign "Enduring Crusade". Well, that go the whole region in an uproar. They saw a clear path from The Crusades of nine centuries ago to our action now. And they see us as the leaders of the West, therefore we have inherited the mantle of head of these continuing crusades. It's funny how they see the current events in context to events that happened so long ago, while we see history as last week, or last month (a slight exaggeration, but you get my point). So if we were to disengage from Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, if we stopped giving aide to Israel, if we stopped supporting unpopular regimes, would they suddenly let bygones be bygones? Or would they continue to remember our actions, and the actions of the British, French, Crusaders, and still blame us for any and all sense of injustice that might have resulted from those policies? Would they still try to exact a measure of revenge from the U.S. proper and of U.S. interests overseas? Would they kidnap U.S. citizens traveling in the region? Would they come here and blow up our buildings and kill our civilians? I'm not convinced that a disengagement will have the result we might expect. If it's just money we want to save, we could probably close half the bases in Germany and Japan. Neither of those countries pose a legitimate threat and the Soviets are not going to march through Europe.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

It's possible that many would still dislike us even if we cleaned up our act, and stopped trying to control how other countries act.

But it's certain that they will if we don't do that.

I'd rather give it a try - we can still keep the military spending we need to defend ourselves.

Why create enemies?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

"Why create enemies?" Because in that region, we haven't got a clue as to what actions will create friends and what actions will create enemies. In retrospect, some of our actions should have been seen as having a high probability of creating enemies. On the other hand, some of our actions were done with the best of intentions, only to make enemies. And some of our friends became friends only at the cost of making others enemies. If we pull out now, our friends may become our enemies while our enemies may stay our enemy.
My earlier post was meant to say that we look at the world differently. I'm not saying we're right and they're wrong, or that they're right and we're wrong. I'm saying that we see things in such different context that if we did the "right" thing, there is no more or less hope that it will produce the "right" result.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

That doesn't make a lot of sense on the enemies part.

Those who want us to leave them alone will be glad if we leave - those who want us to stay won't be.

But it's extremely unlikely that those who have called for America to leave them alone will continue to be enemies.

Or, even if they still don't like us, they probably won't be as interested in getting into violent military conflicts with us - that's also better to me. I don't need everybody in the world to like America - I'd settle for fewer violent conflicts.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

". On the other hand, some of our actions were done with the best of intentions, only to make enemies."

Very, very few. Most of our actions have been taken in our so-called "national interest," which is really just a euphemism for the very narrow commercial interests of our corporate elites.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

A decade or more I was watching an interview with a middle east ambassador. They were talking about democracy. The subject narrowed to freedom of speech. Obviously, it's something we hold very near and dear. But this ambassador argued that included in our freedom of speech is the right to publish pornography and the right of women to dance naked on a pole. He then went on to say that when it comes to freedom of speech, thanks, but no thanks. To the average American, saying no thanks to freedom of speech would be inconceivable. To this ambassador, he was just fine with it. Again, I'm not saying who's right and who's wrong. I know what's right for us. But as we push our values on others, sometimes values that we don't see how they could possibly reject, but they do reject them. Sometimes it's freedom of speech. Sometimes it's women's rights, sometimes it's gay rights. Sometimes it's democracy itself. We push with good intentions while they reject while defending their culture and it's history.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

We shouldn't push our values on other cultures.

That's the clear message there to me - is it not clear to you?

I don't go around "pushing my values" on other people, and If I did, I suspect it would create conflicts in a number of ways.

Perhaps if we simply managed to live up to our own values, and ideals, that would be better.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

"We shouldn't push our values on other cultures. That's the clear message there to me - is it not clear to you?" No - it's not at all clear to me. If a society stones gay people to death, we should not try to influence them not to behave in that manner? If women are not allowed to get an education or even seek medical treatment in an emergency without a male member of the family permitting such care, we should do nothing? If religious minorities are not permitted to practice their faith, or if young females have their genitalia mutilated or I could go on all day and all night.
Is it really all that clear to you?

Abdu Omar 6 years, 9 months ago

You cannot change a culture that has been practiced for 2 thousand years. If the countries want to stone gay people, those who are gay have the right to seek other places to live that don't stone gays in their opinion. In some societies, homosexual behavior is forbidden because it breaks the morays of that society. We are not offended by this as we don't have morays in our society. We allow anything that doesn't hurt others. We turn our backs on that if we are not gay. This same thinking, whether you like it or not, is their problem, not ours and although I don't agree with their position and condemn their actions, I will defend them because they have just as much right to do what they want as we have.

My grandfather once said that although some areas of the world have arranged marriages, we, in America, have divorce. Which one destroys the fabric of society more?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

Well, if they stone a few gays or kill six million Jews, what the heck, it's their society, not ours. That's your opinion? It's none of our business? My opinion is different. If we can influence their society, we should. And in the extreme, we should intervene. It's not a perfect solution. In fact, it's a solution fraught with dangers of miscalculations. But it's better than the alternative.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

What about a culture that simply frowns on homosexuality rather than accepting it?

Or one that believes in simpler, more traditional, lifestyles, and doesn't embrace the modern world of technology, etc.?

Also, why don't we first do a better job of living up to our own values? We might be able to influence other cultures without force a little better if we were a better example of what we preach.

Brock Masters 6 years, 9 months ago

Isn't that what the radical Muslim terrorist are doing with the US? Are they justified for attacking us because we do not conform to their morals and religious beliefs?

Where is the line that one can cross to intervene and one cannot cross and how do we get everyone to agree on it?

Abdu Omar 6 years, 9 months ago

Well, Fred, they openly attacked us as in a major crime or an act of war! I am not talking about terror at all, I am talking about cultures who want to remain like they are and not be influenced by us. And I will state again, the west has as many terrorists as the middle east. Didn't we just witness a "Christian" Terrorist blowing up a building and killing 90 some people?

I don't believe that the one who killed those people in Norway was a Christian any more than the Bin Laudens of the world are Muslim. They are certainly not following their own religion and yet we call them with a religious title ie. Muslim Terrorists, etc.

Abdu Omar 6 years, 9 months ago

"Well, if they stone a few gays or kill six million Jews, what the heck, it's their society, not ours. That's your opinion? It's none of our business?"

Where in our discussion came the killing of 6 Million Jews? When Hitler attacked Poland, this was a breach of peace and the world had the right to step in. But america and other countries were not interested in fighting Hitler. Killing of Jews came out later - after we got into the war. If we would have known that before, we would have gotten in sooner, I think.

My point is clear: What right do we have to say our culture should influence other cultures? Look at the facts: Every monotheistic religion condemns homosexuality as an abomination. Period. The same group condemns pre and extra marital sexual relations. the same group condemns excessive use of alcohol they condemn abortion and free love. They eschew and reject these things and you want to be the culture that influences them? How funny!

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Well, there's some sort of distinction between basic human rights, and pushing our cultural values on other cultures.

And, there's also a fine line between trying to influence other cultures and simply trying to impose our values, usually through force.

I think we should support human rights in a variety of ways, including not trading with countries that violate them.

But I think we need to separate out our cultural biases from those, and leave cultures alone even if they're quite different from ours, rather than trying to impose our values and culture on them.

Amnesty International is an organization that does a pretty good job of focusing on basic human rights - and they wouldn't grade us that well in some areas.

But they wouldn't advocate for us to support the Shah of Iran, who outlawed traditional clothing and religious practices, as far as I know.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

You see the fine lines being discussed. It's difficult. And I have no doubt that the fine line of the 1950's with the Cold War as a backdrop might see the fine line differently than in retrospect where no Soviet/U.S. conflict happened and it was all about oil. I was young during those years. I recall some very tense times when oil was the last thing on anybody's mind. Surviving the inevitable Soviet conflict was paramount on our minds.
Hindsight is 20/20. It's a luxury we don't always have.

Brock Masters 6 years, 9 months ago

Cold war didn't scare me cause we practiced hiding under our desks in case of nuclear attack. They were magic desk I suppose. Maybe we could use some today.

devobrun 6 years, 9 months ago

"I don't go around "pushing my values" on other people". You do it regularly on these very blogs. And Bob Dylan does it. And the rappers do it, and Islam sees it all the time in web sites, video, music...... Western values regarding homosexuality, for example, are a real threat to an Imam in Iran.

You share the same problem that Liberty_One has above. You think that concrete implementation of an idea is the only manifestation of it. In his case, he is unaware of limitations on his freedom by decisions about which he is ignorant. In your case, you think that by not proselytizing, you are not a threat to Islam.

By sharing your views in a public forum such as this, you engage in behavior which contributes to the confusion in Islam right now. Islam is experiencing their own Enlightenment. Christianity did so about 400 years ago. The church was replaced by a secular government based on reason and individuality. Islam is trying to find just such a detente with those two ideas. And your freedom to speak and be is witness to freedom and that threatens a religious state.

I think you should own up to the fact that you have opinions, you share them, and that bothers some people. Tough, too bad, you are an individual and you want to express your ideas. Deal with it. But don't claim innocence.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

I have plenty of opinions, and I share them freely.

I also argue for my positions, and question the logic in others as well.

That's not the same thing as "pushing one's values on others".

My actions have no element of force in them, and no element of coercion - if people are persuaded by my arguments, that their choice. And if not, it's also their choice.

tena buse 6 years, 9 months ago

Those bases do not exsist because these countries are "a threat". They are there to have a close proximity for our wounded to be treated and to stage the deployements. In order to have a rapid response, you have to have personnel and equipment closer to the regions of involvement. And I disagree with the foolish notion of disarming the nuclear wing. With the presence of nuclear arms in the hands of very unstable regions, it is imperative to have this type of defense. War is ugly, that is why it is war. There are many areas that can be cut, but there is no quick cure. And the military is already drawing down. The number of personnel is being cut.

Liberty275 6 years, 9 months ago

More insidiously, the decadence of the west is undermining Islam. It is a continuous crusade. Instead of killing them, we should just keep feeding them more and more Britney Spears. Half-naked women beat bombs every time and they cost a lot less.

tomatogrower 6 years, 9 months ago

The problem with the American people now, especially the tea party, is that they want their cake and eat it too. Most Americans were gungho about getting the terrorists, just like people were gungho to go after the Japanese after Pearl Harbor. But unlike WWII, people don't want to sacrifice for it.

Bush cut taxes during war. He didn't implement austerity measures. He didn't tell the American people that there would be sacrifices, but if we worked hard we would rid the world of terrorists. He didn't say we need to come together as a nation to fight this menace. He just took the war to the wrong place, then told people to go out and spend money. A plan to pay for the war wasn't even considered.

So the only people who are sacrificing for the war are those who have friends and family in the military. No one has had their food and gas rationed as in WWII. We are paying fewer taxes. Of course, there are plenty of people making money from the war, but according to tea party and psuedo capitalists that's a good thing.

ljwhirled 6 years, 9 months ago

The upper tax bracket during WWII was 90%.

Right now it is 33%.

We should pay for the war the same way my grandparents did.

usnsnp 6 years, 9 months ago

Want a cheaper military, bring back the draft. Cant do that it might inconvince most of the young people in the United States.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 9 months ago

Yeah... that's a terrible, terrible idea.

ljwhirled 6 years, 9 months ago

Bad idea. I don't want to serve next to a draftee.

I know, if people don't want to fight, they can help pay for those of us who do! We could, I don't know, raise taxes to pay for the war?

But if we had to pay for it, no one would want to go to war. Hmmm.

beatrice 6 years, 9 months ago

We currently spend more on our military than the next 19 highest spending countries combined. This needs to end if we ever expect to lower our debt.

Brock Masters 6 years, 9 months ago

Right, why do other countries need to spend on a military when they know the good ol' USA will step in a protect them? Time for Europe and other countries to man up and defend themselves while we get our house back in order.

jaywalker 6 years, 9 months ago

Now that's a statement I can get behind. Thank you, fred!

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 9 months ago

Exactly. If the United States wants to make serious military cuts the electorate first need to decide what it is willing to do and what it is not willing to do. What is the electorate willing to give up? For example, is the United States willing to let NATO dissolve? The United States is the overwhelming military contributor to NATO and any cuts will likely further cripple the organization. People were quick to scream for NATO intervention in Libya until they discovered the US would foot most of the bill and that it would not be quick or clean. What about the UN? Is the United States willing to let other countries shoulder the military burden that the United States has traditionally shouldered?

It's fine to talk about cuts - and I think the US should be willing to cut - but one must be aware that spending cuts have a real strategic impact.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

And the majority of that money goes to pay our service people, and to give them health care, and retirement benefits, and to help support their dependents. And we need to do a better job in those areas. I'm not saying we shouldn't look to defense as an area where we should cut spending, but lets not make it sound like it will be an easy task.

Abdu Omar 6 years, 9 months ago

It surely isn't an easy task, but it has to be done. We cannot sacrifice our senior citizens right to Social Security or Medicare. We cannot take away social services or our transportation needs to balance a budget. We need to look at defense spending, stop going to war for no reason, and bring our troops home with a "job well done".

Then we need to look at give aways to industries that are flooded with profits like the oil industry. Why are we giving subsidies to oil companies? Because it was the padding of the people who gave our last president money to run. We need to stop foreign aid to countries that spy on us or bomb our ships and steel our secrets. We must re-adjudicate those who say they are our friends.

beatrice 6 years, 9 months ago

Majority of the money goes to our service people? Is that accurate? How much goes to development and military "stuff"?

However, the same could be said about others who work for the government. Why is it okay to fire a postal worker or someone working for the IRS, but not a soldier standing guard over a non-threat in Germany? Cutting spending isn't easy on any level, but it needs to be done. We start by not replacing positions when people retire.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

That certainly doesn't sound like a "majority" of the money to me.


jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

I stand corrected. I was certain I read that just a short time ago. After looking at several sources, I must concede that vertigo's number is correct. I apologize if my post misled anyone. It was not my intention. An honest mistake. Sorry.

Brock Masters 6 years, 9 months ago

Making mistakes is pretty common....admitting it is very uncommon. Good job.

tbaker 6 years, 9 months ago

Claiming that...."the military industrial complex will soon devour seniors’ modest benefits and monies for our children’s education" is pure fallacy. Its like saying if I buy a new car, my wife and children will starve to death. A modest mid-size new car would take up about 20% of my disposable income - which is what DoD's budget is. It presumes every other thing the government spends money on is more important than social security. How the federal government is supposed to pay for my children's education is a mystery. I don't know where that came from. The author also doesn't distinguish between "military" spending, and "defense" spending. There is a huge difference in those pots of money that would have brought a lot more credibility to the piece. Want an example of "defense" spending? Ever wonder why we've given Pakistan $5B when that country is largely responsible for the war in Afghanistan? Easy: Our leaders think that money will keep the Islamic nuts from taking over and gaining access to nuclear weapons. I think the nuts are in charge now, but you be the judge. Work in DoD for a while Mr. Brown. Work with DoS for a while (where a lot of DoD $$ is spent) Gain some understanding of the subject beyond what you can find in Wikipedia.Bottom line: epic fallacy fail. Must have been a slow day at the LJW editor's desk to run bilge like this.

usnsnp 6 years, 9 months ago

Get tired of hearing, why should they get this or that, we taxpayers are paying for it. Fact military personnel pay Federal Taxes, Social Security, Medicare and most of the other taxes everyone else does. The only time that they do not pay Federal taxes is when they are in a combat zone. Military retiries pay Federal Taxes on their retirement, also state taxes in states that tax military retirement. My question is if it is such a good deal how come most of you have not gone into the military. O you might get shot, of losse a limb or be away from your family for months at a time.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Nobody's criticizing the people who serve.

But their salaries, benefits, etc. all are paid by tax dollars - it's just the way it works.

beatrice 6 years, 9 months ago

jhawkinsf, now that you see that only 22.5% of military spending is on personnel, does that alter your thinking on the topic in any way? Think just making cuts on the 77.5% in non-personnel spending might make it a bit of an easier task?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

I've always believed that spending cuts are necessary. I think it would be best if they were spread across the broadest of ways. Military spending needs to be cut, as does spending on social services. Revenue needs to be increased, though I don't believe in tax increases. I'd prefer closing ALL loopholes and having a flat rate income tax.
I'm not an expert on what non-personnel spending cuts could be made with what consequences to our military preparedness. But in general, yes, cuts should be made.

beatrice 6 years, 9 months ago

I'd agree with a wide distribution of cuts, including to the military. I'm not sure a flat tax is the way to go, but do feel that we need to allow the Bush-era temporary tax cuts to end.

When closing all loopholes, I believe it would be devestating to non-profits, including churches. We need to move slowly in that direction, but am sure there are loopholes that should be discontinued.

I believe this can and will be done. Lets just ban lobbyists before we begin the process.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

I'm no social scientist, so I'm not even going to pretend that I know all the variables, but I think there is a strong connection between the poor paying no income taxes and the poor voting in relatively small numbers. Without any skin in the game, they lose at least one compelling reason to vote. In essence, allowing poor people to escape paying income taxes disenfranchises them from voting. Everyone needs to pay taxes, and in these times, everyone needs to pay a little more. Everyone. And I do believe that should that come to pass, you will see greater participation in the electoral process. That is also a good thing. And for the progressives who might argue that any tax on the poor will hurt them, it would be offset by their increased political clout, and the lessening of the political clout of the wealthy and big corporations. Just a thought.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

That's interesting.

Others argue that the poor are voting to get themselves more "goodies", because they don't have any "skin" in the game.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

Those that do vote may be voting for their own self interest. I suspect that many people across all socioeconomic groups do that. What I was trying to explain was why this particular group votes in lower numbers than other groups.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

The poor don't pay income taxes because they are poor. To suggest that they need to pay more in taxes than they already do is the same as saying that they need to be even poorer than they already are.

And if they already are on the verge of homelessness, why do you think pushing them even closer to that will all of a sudden get them into the polling booth?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

What I said was that there was a correlation between not paying income taxes and voting in low numbers. In other words, since they did not have any skin in the game, they choose not to vote.
The deal is this, if they paid more in income taxes and voted in greater numbers, and assuming that like everyone else they voted in their own best interests, then with the greater representation that would follow, their self interests would be better served. As it is now, because they vote in low numbers, their best interests are not being served. Or if they are, it's only because others who do vote are looking out for their best interests. And that last part is something I question. Typically, people vote their own self interests and therefore I don't think others will be looking out for the self interests of others. In the end, the poor may wind up paying more in taxes but receiving a government that is more responsive to their needs as they determine what those needs are. And before you jump down my throat saying that there is no proof of a correlation between non-payment of income taxes and low voter turn out, I prefaced this all by stating it's something I believe. I have no proof either way.

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