Last night, while watching TV, I spent some time on my laptop surfing Wikipedia’s pages about the military. I was sent to Wikipedia by some link in a discussion over at Slashdot on why aircraft carriers are still important. I looked at military expenditures. Missile defense systems. The history of the US Navy. And, or course, aircraft carriers themselves. Delving into Wikipedia was, as it so often is, entirely fascinating. While doing all this browsing, though, I noticed a disconnect between my emotion and my reason. Logically, I want US military expenditure (currently at $700+ billion a year, and accounting for 41% of worldwide military spending) to drop. I want it to drop a lot. The US spends less than 1% of that amount on the National Science Foundation. About 3% of that amount on NASA. About 0.03% of that amount on the arts. If even a fraction that money went to education, to science, to space exploration, to the arts, to education imagine where we’d be. A world with the US spending $600 billion on the military (still kind of absurd) with tens of billions going to other projects.
At the same time, while browsing Wikipedia, I am reminded of the emotional security that comes with an absurdly (even obscenely) powerful military.