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Published: Sunday, 11/10/2013

GUEST COLUMN

Nuclear bombs need budget discipline too

BY JUDY LEE TRAUTMAN
MULTIFAITH COUNCIL OF NORTHWEST OHIO, CO-CHAIRMAN
Trautman. Trautman.
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During last month’s government shutdown, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation aimed at ensuring that all programs in the nuclear weapons budget — no matter how wasteful — would remain fully funded.

Nuclear bombs should not be exempt from fiscal discipline. People of all faith perspectives might ask our political leaders to address the moral and ethical implications of balancing our budget in a way that benefits the good of our country as a whole.

The United States has the highest military spending in the world — four times higher than our nearest competitor, China. Yet we do not adequately support our military families and veterans.

We are considered the wealthiest nation on Earth. Yet more than one out of five children under the age of 18 live in poverty, and more than 50 million Americans live in food-insecure households.

Most thinking citizens realize that we need to balance our budget and reduce the deficit. Yet the government shutdown had devastating effects on students, senior citizens, and sick and hungry Americans.

Our elected officials need to exercise the moral courage to address wasteful military spending. We can cut obsolete weapons systems while keeping our troops safe, addressing global security challenges, and taking care of our veterans.

Investments in renewable energy, disaster preparedness, health care, and education are as important to our nation’s security as the appearance of military might. We need soldiers who are well equipped to defend the country, but we also need gifted minds that can develop effective solutions to global problems.

The planned overhaul of the B61 bomb, the oldest weapon in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, is estimated to cost $10 billion. Six military bases in five NATO nations house about 200 of these bombs. European nations are increasingly unwilling to pay the expense of hosting the B61.

Germany, in particular, advocates removal of the B61. If Germany is successful in removing the bombs based there, other European nations are likely to follow.

The rationale for the extending the life of the B61 bomb is that it is vital to U.S. security. But Gen. James Cartwright, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, indicated in a report last year that the military usefulness of all U.S. tactical nuclear weapons is “practically nil.”

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) serves on two powerful House committees that oversee nuclear weapons and defense spending. She voted against the nuclear-weapons exemption from the government shutdown, and this year voted for a modest reduction of the bloated B61 program. We thank her for her continued efforts.

People of faith and ethical thought need to ask lawmakers to consider the troubling moral implications of lavishing billions of dollars on obsolete nuclear weapons systems. If the unthinkable happened and we used these weapons, it would destroy humanity. Even a “smaller” nuclear exchange would indiscriminately kill masses of humans, animals, and plant life.

Someone obviously profits from spending on obsolete weapons. American citizens should remind our lawmakers that public dollars ought to profit the public, not corporate interests.

Judy Lee Trautman, of Toledo, is co-chairman of the MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio.



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