BY JEREMY KUZMAROV
The Tulsa World on Sept. 11 heaped praise on Sen. Jim Inhofe for being named as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee following the death of John McCain.
They said Inhofe’s clout was important to Oklahoma. The state houses five military bases, including Tinker Air Force Base, and its economy is tied to military spending.
The Tulsa World expressed further hope that Inhofe would help his hometown by securing rights for F-35 jets flying out of the Oklahoma National Guard base to land at Tulsa International Airport.
According to the Tulsa World, Inhofe “remembers the people back home” and “is willing to use his clout to protect their interests.”
While Inhofe’s civic mindedness and care for the people back home may be admirable, is it really in our interest to have our economy dependent on the military and to have the main purpose of our senior senator to further this dependence?
Especially at a time when we are at war officially and unofficially in countries that do not threaten our national security in any way?
And is it really in our interest to be known as a hub for landing F-35 jets, which longtime Pentagon analyst and insider Pierre Sprey characterized as “an inherently terrible airplane.”
After reading their editorial, I am left to wonder if the Tulsa World’s editors ever heard of Dwight Eisenhower’s warning about the military industrial complex? If not, maybe they should look it up on Google.
In a courageous speech marking the end of his presidency, the famed World War II commander had the integrity to acknowledge the overemphasis on military spending on his own administration.
He said that every dollar spent on the military was a dollar taken away from funding for education and social programs to benefit society; and that the growth of military power would destroy democracy.
The Tulsa World’s editors should also Google Seymour Melman and order up one of his books on Amazon.com.
Melman was a great economist from Columbia University who showed how government investment in the military and military-related industries was parasitic since it did not fuel spin off industries and broader economic growth.
The United States, according to Melman, had taken on features of a Third World country, including decaying infrastructure and high poverty rates, and was in decline as a manufacturing power, because of overinvestment in the military.
Richard Barnet in a 1969 book aptly wrote: “The economy of life in America has been starved to feed the economy of death. The American people are devoting more resources to the war machine than is spent by all federal, state, and local governments on health and hospitals, education, old age and retirement benefits, public assistance and relief, unemployment, and social security, housing and community development, and the support of agriculture. Out of every tax dollar there is about 11 cents left to build American society.”
These words resonate in 2018 when the Trump Administration, with backing from people like Inhofe along with leading Democrats, approved a $717 billion defense budget.
The defense bill passed both houses despite the fact that American education is in crisis, the middle class is in decline, social services are being starved and cities are so budget-strapped they cannot afford to provide proper public transportation for their residents.
The Tulsa World claims to be a voice for the people of Tulsa and occasionally offers a sensible perspective.
However, just because Inhofe is from Oklahoma and has risen in the ranks does not mean he has our best interests in mind.
Quite the contrary if we consider not only his support for fiscal austerity combined with endless wars overseas, but also his prominence in the climate change denial movement.
– Jeremy Kuzmarov teaches at Tulsa Community College and is author of three books on U.S. foreign policy, including most recently, The Russians are Coming, Again: The First Cold War as Tragedy, the Second as Farce [New York: Monthly Review Press, 2018].
Inhofe Photo: U.S. Senate.