At the end of World War II, American troops stationed on the island of Espiritu Santo didn’t know what to do with millions of tons of leftover food, clothing, housing, vehicles, heavy equipment and weaponry. So, they shoved all of it into the ocean.
The Pentagon is the only government agency not required to submit an annual budget to Congress. There is no way to track waste or figure out how many private contractors are on the Pentagon payroll, although estimates put the number at higher than 600,000.
Occasionally we get a peek into how money is spent, like the extra $479 million appropriated for F-35 jets, even though the Pentagon didn’t ask for it. The F-35, manufactured in Bernie Sander’s Vermont, has already cost $400 billion and still can’t turn, climb or run.
Funding for the Air Force’s new B-21 nuclear bomber is completed shrouded, allegedly for security reasons, but probably to avoid sticker shock for a machine that will cost over $100 billion.
More new bombers, missile submarines, nuclear missiles are on the way, which will cost $1 trillion over the next thirty years. One submarine program, estimated to cost $139 billion for twelve subs, is not even part of the Navy’s budget, but paid for with a special slush fund.
Military spending is purposefully hidden behind an exhausting labyrinth of rules, secrecy and bureaucracy, papered over with calls for homeland security and the need to maintain our status as the world’s only superpower.
It’s jaw dropping to stumble on this, the end of the line for mindless spending:
Espiritu Santo is part of an 80 island archipelago in the South Pacific, which in the 1940’s was called New Hebrides and ruled by the British and French. The country has since declared its independence and is now the Republic of Vanuatu.
The Americans intended to use it as a base to attack the Japanese. We landed 100,000 troops (the local population at the time was about 60,000). The Americans were accompanied by a mind-boggling cache of supplies, much of which was stacked up in newly razed jungle.
At the end of the war, the U.S. forces faced piles of mislabeled and disorganized stuff, much of it already deteriorating. They offered to sell all to the British and French for about six cents on the dollar. No way, said the British and the French. Once the Americans left, they figured they’d get everything for free.
No way to you, the Americans said. We’ll just toss it.
“The Seabees built a ramp running into the sea and … Americans drove trucks, jeeps, ambulances, bulldozers, and tractors into the channel, locking the wheels and jumping free at the last second.
There it still sits today.
According to locals, pollution from gas, diesel, rusting metal and decomposing tires made the area unfishable for decades.
Gradually coral began to grow on the old gun turrets and corrugated iron and fish started to return. The beach was renamed Million Dollar Point and the tribe that owns the land charges $5 per visit. It’s not a bad source of income in a country where cash is hard to come by.
We shell out more for military activities than all other military spending in the world combined.
How much is literally and metaphorically waylaid, mislaid, and dumped? How much is polluting other countries? How does military spending today mirror what happened in Vanuatu? In this election year, couldn’t we do more to find out?
More interpretations of this week’s WordPress Photo challenge: Mirror