Anti-War Protesters Carrying "Stop the War Now" Banner at Anti-War Protest 1970's
Back in the day, people were angry about U.S. engagement in overseas “adventures” like the Vietnam War and the War in Iraq to name two. Today, the military budget is approaching $1trillion and much of the American public has essential acquiesced to this status quo.
Today, most holders of the more common mutual fund portfolios are not concerned about being invested in weapons manufacturers stocks. Typically, college students have little knowledge or interest in the anti-war movement that once thrived on campuses.
Joan Roelofs’ new book “The Trillion Dollar Silencer: Why There Is So Little Anti-War Protest in the United States” (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2022), suggests the answer is money.
Particularly important is the fact that military bases have been placed strategically across the country, often in remote rural areas, where they become the life blood of economic development. Millions of American workers find jobs with military contractors or their subsidiaries, which finance scholarships and internships.
The military’s extensive philanthropic endeavors have helped to normalize militarism. A significant portion of grants to universities, businesses and engineering firms are geared to research and funding to train the next generation of weapons-producers. Opposition to U.S. foreign policy in universities has resulted in dismissal from employment.
According to Roelofs, our over-reliance on military spending is taking its toll. The link between bloated military spending and issues such as climate-change inaction, environmental protection, the crises in public education, health-care, housing, poverty, etc. have been all but abandoned while the military industrial complex that General Eisenhower warned about in his Farewell Address in 1961, continues to get its way. Meanwhile we are witnessing a continued deterioration in civilian infrastructure, political polarization, a negative balance of trade, and a mounting deficit.
Investment in civilian research and an anti-war movement are desperately needed.