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Millions of Americans Lack Adequate Health Coverage, But the Pentagon Has a New Nuclear Bomber to Flaunt

GUEST COMMENTARY - Peace and economic justice advocates responded to the imminent unveiling Friday of the United States Air Force's new $750 million-per-plane nuclear bomber by reiterating accusations of misplaced priorities in a nation where tens of millions of people live in poverty and lack adequate healthcare coverage.

Military-industrial complex giant Northrop Grumman is set to introduce its B-21 Raider on Friday. The B-21, whose development was 30 years in the making and whose total project cost is expected to exceed $200 billion, is tapped to replace the aging B-2 Spirit.

"One thing the world definitely does not need is another stealth bomber," Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the peace group CodePink, told Common Dreams.

"This ominous death machine, with its price tag of $750 million a pop, brings huge profits to Northrop Grumman but takes our society one more step down the road of spiritual death," Benjamin added, referring to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1967 anti-war speech, "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence," in which the civil rights leader called the U.S. government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."

Noting the B-21's impending introduction, Canadian professor Christopher Stonebanks tweeted on Wednesday: "Hey, how's the good old USA doing on free healthcare, eliminating poverty, and accessible education for all? What? Oh, I see. They have a new stealth bomber. OK. And their citizens are good with that trade-off?"

The Pentagon, which recently failed its fifth consecutive annual audit, is slated to get $847 billion in 2023 after Congress rubber-stamps the next National Defense Authorization Act, possibly as soon as this month. That's more than the combined military spending of China, India, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and South Korea, according to the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).

(Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for CommonDreams.org where this article was first published.)