Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Duda: Bipartisan support feeds the military-industrial complex

Bipartisan support, which is rarer and rarer today, should represent Democrats and Republicans setting aside their differences to serve the American people. But lately, it has embraced a much darker identity.

A Pew Research Center analysis found that Democrats and Republicans are ideologically further apart now than at any time in the past 50 years.

This partisan polarization means that legislative advances cannot be made on some of the nation’s key issues, such as addressing inflation, healthcare accessibility and immigration. The divisiveness among politicians in Congress causes partisan gridlock, where neither party is willing to vote for an issue or compromise, and they are using strategic stalling tactics to ensure a vote does not happen.

Legislation on these key issues rarely receives bipartisan support, leading most Americans to ponder if Congress actually does anything to serve the American people. A recently published article by Reuters states that Congress is becoming less productive, as just 27 bills were passed in 2023.

Bipartisan support in Congress is important to a healthy democracy, so what does it mean that only 27 bills were passed last year? Perhaps our democracy is not functioning as it should.

It seems like in any case where Congress is presented with a potential war involving the U.S. or its allies, Congress stokes the flames of war by providing billions of dollars in military aid. A few weeks ago, politicians on both sides of the aisle enthusiastically voted to pass a $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. This massive amount comes after the U.S. provided tens of billions of dollars to each country already.

The military-industrial complex is stronger than ever, and it may actually be worse than what former President Dwight Eisenhower initially cautioned against in 1961. He drew a connection between a country’s military and the defense industry that supplies it, warning of the influence of this connection on national policy. However, he did not strongly acknowledge the intimate connectedness of politicians to the complex.

A gross number of politicians in Congress hold stock in defense companies such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics. This poses a major conflict of interest. In October 2023, an X account by the name “unusual_whales” released a report of Democratic and Republican Congress members who are actively benefiting from the war in Ukraine and the war in Gaza.

If more aid is provided for world conflicts, Congress members are bound to profit since that money goes directly back to defense companies. The financial success of politicians and defense companies relies on some of the most immoral and unethical actions being perpetrated across the world.

About $61 billion of the aid package went to Ukraine. The casualties on both sides are staggering, nearing half a million soldiers killed by most estimates. But Ukraine has a much smaller population, so these casualties affect their military ranks to a point where the country is having difficulty replenishing its numbers.

Since Ukraine decimated its younger male age cohorts, the average age of a soldier in the Ukrainian military is 43. There are concerning reports of Ukrainian military recruiters taking unethical, forceful actions to refill their ranks, such as confiscating passports, removing people from their jobs and sending people with mental disabilities and elderly people to military training.

Ukraine is dependent on the U.S. for funding its war, and aid dollars are providing false hope that an army of older folks can beat a much more equipped Russia. I honestly feel bad for Ukraine. A few weeks after the war started, Russia and Ukraine came very close to a negotiated settlement, but “western” leaders like the U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Joe Biden instructed Ukraine to reject it. Ukraine would most likely be better off now if a settlement was reached.

The aid package also provided billions of dollars to Israel to carry out a genocide in Gaza. The ground invasion of Rafah, a place where nearly 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltered, has begun. These injured, tortured and traumatized Palestinians have nowhere else to go since nearly all of Gaza has been reduced to rubble.

The blame for this genocide should be equally placed on Israel, Biden and U.S. Congress members for approving more aid. The Israel Defense Forces are heavily reliant on access to U.S. weaponry like the F-35 aircraft, precision-guided bombs and artillery shells to commit their inhumane acts against the people of Gaza, many of which violate international humanitarian law.

I have never been more ashamed of American politicians. It is horrifying that military aid legislation can easily pass through Congress with bipartisan support, all while Congress members fight tooth and nail to stymy laws that could help the people here at home — the people the government is supposed to be serving.

There is a surprising amount of issues that Americans in both political parties agree on, such as taking money out of politics, protecting against rent hikes, reducing inflation and paying teachers more. Surely these issues are what bipartisan support in Congress is meant for, not to fuel the military industrial complex.

Melissa Duda is a second-year graduate student in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. She can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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