In the early 1990s, politicians floated the term “peace dividend” regarding a hoped-for post-Cold War reduction in the U.S. defense budget, and Pentagon spending indeed fell somewhat in the mid- and late ‘90s. Sean McElwee, a research associate at the lefty think tank Demos, argues that America now needs a post-9/11, post-Afghanistan, post-Iraq peace dividend which would allow greatly increased spending on certain domestic programs.
“As violent deaths from war and terrorism decline,” wrote McElwee in a Sunday piece for Salon, “the greater threat to Americans is their failing infrastructure, costly healthcare system and incoherent environmental policy…In addition, [America’s] ability to lead by example is threatened by poverty, homeless[ness] and rampant inequality.”
McElwee concluded that “Americans need to realize that today, the larger threat they face is their own fear leading them to underinvest in vital services. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously warned, ‘the only thing we have to fear is… fear itself.’”