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Letter: Our addiction to militarism

How to fund the proposed overhaul of health care? How about the Pentagon handing over a half-trillion dollars for health care for all Americans, for education, infrastructure improvements, and development assistance for the poorest nations?

Recent articles in the West Central Tribune have put our two wars back on front page. The steady buildup of troops in Afghanistan illustrates America's continued addiction to militarism and war. What is the cost of the war there? Who will pay? Who will die? Why?

According to a conservative estimate by two renowned economists we will, tragically, pay $3 trillion (yes, trillion!) for our war in Iraq. That's the monetary cost. The cost in American lives alone: 4,325 killed, 31,430 seriously wounded as of July 8. What have we gained and what has Iraq gained?

The Pentagon deserves credit for rejecting the F-22. Yet, war is still big business for the military-industrial complex. The cozy union of the Pentagon and military munitions corporations who feed off our tax dollars, and wars, makes those corporations some of the richest in the world. To get a glimpse: 2009-10 U.S. military spending accounts for 45 percent of the world's total military spending. We spend more than the next 20 countries combined. Our current military budget ($671 billion) compares with $144 billion for China. How are we financing our global militarism (and national debt)? Our grandchildren will pay... Right now, the U.S. owes $2.67 trillion to foreign governments and investors -- 20 percent of our gross domestic product.

President (General) Dwight D. Eisenhower said: "If men can develop weapons that are so terrifying as to make the thought of global war include almost a sentence for suicide, you would think that man's intelligence and his comprehension... would include also his ability to find a peaceful solution."

I request Minnesota's politicians take a hard look at our addiction to militarism; support our troops by ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and use the savings to fund health care for all citizens and other pressing needs in our nation and the world.

Daniel Belgum-Blad