This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

The Babel Pentagon

We peacemakers have not been vigilant over the military-industrial complex. The Department of Defense has grown into an unmanageable monster, gulping down enormous amounts of our taxes, often losing account of where money went. On Dec. 5, 2016, The Washington Post uncovered that the Pentagon buried evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste. Last year’s budget was more than $600 billion, with another $100 billion to be added in the next budget.

The DOD is the only federal agency that has avoided an audit for more than 20 years. Its finances are in such disarray that the number of employees, contractors and cost overruns is virtually impossible to tally. Russell Ber­man says in The Atlantic that “the DOD has misspent or not accounted for anywhere from hundreds of billions to several trillion dollars.”

Bryan Bender writes in Politico that Sen. Chuck Grassley declared “the odds of a successful DOD audit . . . are zero.” Yet Congress keeps flooding the Pentagon with many more billions while cutting funds from education, Medicare, Social Security and other vital needs.

The Project on Government Oversight, staffed by seasoned former military experts, warns that “more money will only reward continued bad behavior. Slashing military budgets would force the Pentagon and Congress to make choices leading to a more effective fighting force,” according to The Defense Monitor.

The Pentagon’s confusion with finances reminds me of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. Here the desire to “make a name for ourselves” leads to debilitating confusion. One-upmanship involves forgetting and abusing others. Thankfully, God’s creation is designed to dismantle such hubris.

Our nation thinks we must be No. 1, symbolized by the mammoth “temple” we call the Pentagon. It’s long overdue to recognize that it is God’s mercy coming down to further confuse the insane spending by this monstrosity. To cooperate with God, we would be wise to begin dismantling it by stopping the flood of billions of dollars.

God is coming down — and will continue to come down through things like the Project on Government Oversight, God’s church and others focused on the other “temple,” the one of justice and peace.

John Shearer
Lititz, Pa.

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