The president's biartisan deficit-reduction commission, cochaired by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, has come in with a preliminary report on ways to reduce costs and increase revenue over the next 10 years. Although I agree with the commission's primary proposals - even doubling the federal tax on a gallon of gasoline (and yes, I do drive) - I am appalled to find no mention of making serious cuts in defense spending.

Well, of course not! The first commandment of American politics is that there shall be no mention of reducing our bloated military budget. The military-industrial-congressional complex has that cash cow by the tail. We spend about as much on our military as do many of the other nations of the world combined. Empire and greed have built the system, and billions in profits accrue from the huge outlays for weapons, bases, troops, and fighting the wars of empire. U.S. military spending amounts to more than $700 billion a year, including the off-the-books wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and funds spent in the Department of Energy for nuclear weapons.

There is waste aplenty in a system that includes funding even weapons the Pentagon tells Congress it no longer wants.

President Obama's office has cited $295 billion in annual cost overruns alone. Removing our troops from the unwinnable war in Afghanistan would save $25 billion in the first year. Closing half of our 950 global military bases would save $51 billion per year. That's just for starters. It's time we adopted a realistic defense budget, tailored to meet our actual defense needs instead of the demands of empire and greed. That's the way to attack the annual deficit and long-term national debt.

Gordon C. Bennett

West Brandywine