(Update: Obama and Huckabee win in Iowa)
In just a few hours we should know which two candidates can claim victory in Iowa. If polling means anything, the winners will likely come from this pool: Clinton, Edwards, Obama, Romney, and Huckabee.
Given the ongoing disaster in Iraq, it’s disappointing that none of these candidates have been willing to challenge or even address the basic premise of our foreign policy. Namely that we can rule the world by force, and that our military budget should be practically unlimited.
Glenn Greenwald recently wrote about a report that shows our “military spending exceeds the rest of the world’s spending combined, and we spend almost 10 times what the second-place country, China, spends.” With that in mind why do “anti-war” candidates like Edwards and Obama both talk about making the military even larger on their websites?
Edwards: I will double the budget for recruitment and raise the standards for the recruitment pool so that we can reduce our reliance on felony waivers and other exceptions. In addition, I will increase our investment in the maintenance of our equipment for the safety of our troops.
Obama: We should expand our ground forces by adding 65,000 soldiers to the army and 27,000 marines […] We must also consider using military force in circumstances beyond self-defense in order to provide for the common security that underpins global stability.
Now, to be fair, neither explicitly state they will increase the budget to “double recruitment” or “expand our ground forces,” but I think it’s beyond likely that they will. All of the Democratic candidates should come out and say whether or not they are for expanding, reducing or re-prioritizing the military budget. They don’t have to make blanket promises, but we should at least know with certainty where they stand. I have a hunch that, beyond Ron Paul advocates, there isn’t much support for a reduction in military spending, despite their conservative roots.
Even with this disappointing consistency among the front-runners, Greenwald maintains optimistic, because we still elect our leaders by voting. Chris Floyd, on the other hand, thinks it’s a sign that our country is a democracy in name only. I think Floyd reaches the wrong conclusion. We do have the choice of picking small military and anti-war candidates like Paul, Gravel, and Kucinich, we just don’t. As long as we have those options, and fairly counted ballots we can reverse course.
Flickr Photo by Telstar Logistics