America must decide whether it wants a small military for national defense or one large enough to try and rule the world, Ted Christian says.
A Greenville stock market investor and aerospace engineer formerly employed by NASA, Christian, 45, is seeking the Democratic nomination for the Fourth Congressional District seat. An opponent of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Christian says that if elected he will work to “rein in the military-industrial complex.” To do that, he said, the American people must first be made aware of the fact that their country spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined.
“You never hear this discussed anywhere in politics but we spend more on weapons and the military than every other country on earth combined,” he said. “With 4 percent of the population we outspend the other 96 percent put together. You couldn't begin to justify that on a rational basis. It's plainly ridiculous and yet it's not discussed at all in politics and it is not a minor matter.
“Even without the death and destruction aspect to it, it's something approaching a trillion dollars a year now, so it's a massive amount of money,” he said. “That, if nothing else, at least needs to be discussed openly and it simply is not. I mean, how many people out there on the street know that we spend more on weapons than the other 96 percent of the planet combined? People should know that.”
Christian said America needs to choose between a military that can meet its legitimate defense needs and one that's large enough to undertake what he says is the impossible task of trying to rule the world.
“Obviously there's such a thing as legitimate defensive need but whatever that is we are far beyond it, it seems like by any rational standard,” he said. “It seems to me that it's a question of what do we need the military for, what is its legitimate mission. If it's to defend the United States it could obviously be much smaller. All the other countries make do with a much smaller per capita outlay.
“If our mission for the United States is to control the world our military isn't nearly big enough,” he said. “We actually can't control the world, but if we wanted to try let's get rid of all our cars and lets go to a full on military economy and let's try and have this empire where we control the world.”
Christian, who favors a military that meets America's legitimate defensive needs, said he will also work to get the United States to pursue a global ban on nuclear weapons. He said he believes the longer nuclear weapons exist the greater the likelihood they will be used and that their most likely targets will be Washington, D.C., and New York City.
“We've substantially done it with chemical weapons and biological weapons and there are other classes of weapons that have been effectively banned on a global basis,” he said. “I think if we can ban those weapons and if we can ban nuclear weapons for this country and this country and this country, it's certainly a practical matter that we can ban them on a global basis. They are reasonably difficult weapons to build so they could be banned and they ought to be banned.”
“If they continue to exist they will eventually be used again and the reality is that Washington and New York are at the top of the target list,” he said. “Eventually nukes are going to get used, there is no class of weapons in history that persists that isn't eventually used. It's just a direction we don't want to go.”
While other cities and other nations would also be likely targets, Christian said the United States is the “big dog” on the global stage and therefore the most likely target for nuclear attack. To keep from happening, he said, the United States must take the lead in seeking a global ban on nuclear weapons. While the outcome of such an effort is uncertain, without it, nuclear proliferation will continue as more and more countries seek their own nuclear arsenals. As the number of nuclear powers proliferate, the likelihood that the weapons will be used will increase.
“It's not going to be the case that we have them and maybe China has them and maybe France has them and these few countries have them and all the other countries aren't going to have them,” he said. “Children in the school yard could tell you that doesn't to persist into the future. The technology and the capability is going to continue to diffuse and more countries are going to have them and eventually it's going to reach a tipping point.”