News Release

MLK Would Have Called Debt Ceiling Deal “Demonic”


The San Francisco Chronicle just published an op-ed by IPA executive director Norman Solomon headlined “What word would MLK have used to describe Biden’s debt ceiling deal? ‘Demonic.’

“The debt-ceiling deal reached by President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is a picture of priorities that Martin Luther King Jr. deplored,” the piece says. “While reductions in military spending are completely off the table, the knives are out for deep cuts in government programs to feed the hungry, aid children in low-income families, provide housing assistance, assist seniors and much more.”

The op-ed notes that “a year before his death, King described huge spending for war as a ‘demonic, destructive suction tube’ siphoning vast resources away from anti-poverty programs to pay for warfare in Vietnam. Now, 56 years later, the nation’s military expenditures are at record highs while the Pentagon ‘suction tube’ easily blends in with the political scenery.”

Solomon — whose book War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine will be published later this month — pointed out that “in cities, suburbs and rural areas, the cascading effects of chronic neglect are rife, from underfunded public schools and social services to inadequate and exorbitant housing to life-threatening shortfalls of health care from infancy to old age.”

Meanwhile, “the United States spends more money on its military than the next 10 countries combined, and most of those countries are allies. The U.S. has 750 military bases in foreign countries and territories, compared to no more than three dozen for Russia and five for China. Basic facts about these multibillion-dollar outlays don’t often see the light of day, much less receive critical scrutiny.”

Solomon added: “Today’s bloated military spending is immensely powerful, yet the end use of its power is scarcely visible to Americans. During the past decade, U.S. military actions have required fewer and fewer boots on the ground while increasingly relying on the latest technologies to appear above it all, dropping bombs and firing missiles from on high. . . .

“When tens of thousands of ground troops were engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, U.S. news media provided some coverage of the impacts on them and their loved ones. American deaths and injuries were deemed newsworthy, in sharp contrast to scant coverage of the deaths and suffering of Afghans and Iraqis due to military actions subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. Now, with so much of U.S. warfare relying on air power and secrecy, media coverage of the Pentagon’s war efforts has faded almost to the vanishing point.”

Solomon’s piece concludes: “Making war invisible goes hand in hand with making gigantic military budgets uncontroversial — and disconnecting the profligate spending for the Pentagon from the depletion of resources for the common good. As long as the grim impacts of massive funding for the military are concealed from the American people, the actual consequences of the ‘demonic, destructive suction tube’ will remain hidden in plain sight.”

Available for interviews:

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at