If You Love This Planet, Dr. Helen Caldicott

William Hartung on how weapons makers continue to rob Americans blind with little protest


William Hartung

William Hartung

In this episode of If You Love This Planet,
William Hartung, Director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation, discusses nuclear weapons, conventional arms sales, national security strategy and the economics of military spending. Hartung has been a featured expert on NBC News, the BBC, and Fox News. He co-edited the forthcoming book Lessons From Iraq – Avoiding the Next War (available May 1).

Hartung and Dr. Caldicott cover perhaps the most important issue facing Americans, whether they know it or not – that most of their tax dollars are spent on weapons and war, not on education, health care, job training, poverty, housing, infrastructure repairs, mass transit and averting global warming. Read more about Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes. Hartung says that the military programs taxpayers fund are in almost every case unnecessary for security, while Dr. Caldicott says the true business of weapons makers like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon is mass murder and global annihilation, not “defense.” Read Iraq Air Raids Hit Mostly Women and Children. Hartung says that of every eighty-eight dollars going to the military, only one dollar is spent addressing climate change, which he calls an “unbelievable outrage.” Read Arctic meltdown is a threat to humanity.

As a result of the George W. Bush administration’s buildup, Hartung says, the U.S. is spending more on the military than at any time since World War II – over $1 trillion a year when all “defense” programs are included such as Homeland Security and the now military-focused NASA. See more on NASA below.

During the program, Dr. Caldicott and Hartung analyze many critical issues around military spending, including whether the present financial crisis can wake up Americans to stop funding the Pentagon war machine; how lobbyists from weapons firms hold Congress hostage; and what kind of “smoke and mirrors” arms makers use to convince politicians to fund their programs in nearly every state and Congressional district. Several chapters and an appendix in Dr. Caldicott’s 2004 book The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush’s Military Industrial Complex reveal how weapons companies shape U.S. foreign policy and government spending priorities.

U.S. Predator unmanned aerial vehicle

U.S. Predator unmanned aerial vehicle

Hartung and
Dr. Caldicott also explore the new unarmed aerial vehicles (UAVs) also known as drones, that the U.S. is using to kill people by remote control in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Dr. Caldicott describes how the bombing missions could be conducted overseas by personnel in Florida, via computer. To learn more about UAVs, read Remote Control Death, Thousands Flee Bomb Attacks by US Drones, and The Drone War: A Closer Look.

This episode also investigates how all of NASA’s projects in the future will have a military component, mostly aimed at putting U.S. weapons in space. Dr. Caldicott quotes from an article, The Space Arms Race and the NASA Scam.

Dr. Caldicott ponders if President Obama can stand up to the behemoth of the military-industrial complex and withdraw funding for nuclear and space weapons; and she and Hartung question if achieving worldwide nuclear disarmament is possible without stemming the influence of arms makers and war planners. Read how Barack Obama Goes Ahead With Missile Defense Shield Despite Disarmament Pledge. Representative Barney Frank has proposed cutting the military budget by 25%.

Hartung and Dr. Caldicott discuss the fact that 95% of worldwide nuclear weapons are in the U.S. and Russian stockpiles. Each country has about 13,000 nuclear warheads. Hartung says he believes detonating as few as 250 nuclear weapons could induce nuclear winter. Dr. Caldicott and Hartung consider whether Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be a force for nuclear disarmament. As a presidential candidate, she received more donations from arms makers than all other candidates combined.

Now, Hartung says, there is a major opportunity for the Obama administration and Congress to cut the military budget and to stop building nuclear weapons, but only if citizens take a much more active role in their government, and really put the pressure on. Hartung’s organization is writing a report on the U.S. nuclear weapons complex which want to expand and build many new bombs, which would certainly pose a roadblock to any arms control and disarmament treaties that Obama might sign. Read New Promise of a Nuclear-Free World. And be sure to hear this program!

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