In late May, Vice President Mike Pence was the commencement speaker at West Point. In part, he told the graduating cadets this: “It is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life. You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen…And when that day comes, I know you will move to the sound of the guns and do your duty, and you will fight, and you will win. The American people expect nothing less.”
What Pence didn’t mention that day is why he could be so sure that this will come to pass. Or who the primary beneficiaries will be, if or when it does. Because the winners won’t be the American people, who see their taxes go to missiles instead of healthcare and education. Nor will they be the soldiers themselves—some of whom will return in flag-draped caskets while many more sustain life-altering physical and psychological injuries. The winners also won’t be the citizens of other countries who experience death and displacement on a horrific scale from our awesome military might. And our planet’s now-fragile climate won’t come out on top either, since the Pentagon is the single largest oil consumer in the world.