Will there be a 'peace dividend'?

(The Workers' Advocate, January 1, 1990, p. 4)


. Defense Secretary Richard Cheney made a dramatic announcement of proposed military cuts in December. He claimed that the lessening tensions with the Soviet bloc would bring a "peace dividend" to the American people.

. But it seems that Cheney's talk is just another hoax of the warmongers. He promised a $180 billion cut in Pentagon spending. But it turns out this is not a cut from the current spending level. Rather Cheney would cut $180 billion from a projected five-year Pentagon budget of $1.5 trillion. This is only a 12% cut over five years. And further, since the Pentagon budget was projected to grow by 20% over that period, military spending would actually be 8% higher than it is now.

. Military spending has grown by over $100 billion since 1975, amounting to nearly 30% of the entire federal budget in 1989. Over the last few years, however, it has reached a plateau. And real spending has declined slightly when adjusted for inflation. Cheney's proposal would keep the Pentagon budget at this high level.

. Despite the talk of "peace," both the USSR and the U.S. want to move very slowly in pulling back troops in Eastern Europe. The USSR fears that a rapid demobilization will further destabilize their economy as the soldiers find there are no jobs to come back to. In the U.S. too, big cuts in military spending would create major economic dislocation. Rudy Oswald, the AFE-CIO's chief economist, estimates that up to 300,000 direct defense jobs would be lost if the Pentagon budget was cut even by 5%.

. What is more, as the U. S. economic strength weakens, the U.S. imperialists are not about to give up the military strength they use to bully other countries and maintain their spheres of influence. There may be some reductions. And there may be changes in the type of forces, such as building more quick strike forces for invasions like in Panama. But imperialist warmongering remains the order of the day in the U.S. <>

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