Tag Archives: Defense Spending

Neocons Are Back With a Big War Budget and Big War Plans, by Ron Paul

What’s the use of spending a lot of money on the military if you never go to war? That’s the tortured logic of neoconservatism. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

On Friday, President Trump signed the omnibus spending bill for 2018. The $1.3 trillion bill was so monstrous that it would have made the biggest spender in the Obama Administration blush. The image of leading Congressional Democrats Pelosi and Schumer grinning and gloating over getting everything they wanted — and then some — will likely come back to haunt Republicans at the midterm elections. If so, they will deserve it.

Even President Trump admitted the bill was horrible. As he said in the signing ceremony, “there are a lot of things that we shouldn’t have had in this bill, but we were, in a sense, forced — if we want to build our military…”

This is why I often say: forget about needing a third political party – we need a second political party! Trump is admitting that to fuel the warfare state and enrich the military-industrial complex, it was necessary to dump endless tax dollars into the welfare state.

But no one “forced” President Trump to sign the bill. His party controls both houses of Congress. He knows that no one in Washington cares about deficits so he was more than willing to spread some Fed-created money at home to get his massive war spending boost.

And about the militarism funded by the bill? Defense Secretary James Mattis said at the same press conference that, “As the President noted, today we received the largest military budget in history, reversing many years of decline and unpredictable funding.”

He’s right and wrong at the same time. Yes it is another big increase in military spending. In fact the US continues to spend more than at least the next seven or so largest countries combined. But his statement is misleading. Where are these several years of decline? Did we somehow miss a massive reduction in military spending under President Obama? Did the last Administration close the thousands of military bases in more than 150 countries while we weren’t looking?

Of course not.

On militarism, the Obama Administration was just an extension of the Bush Administration, which was an extension of the militarism of the Clinton Administration. And so on. The military-industrial complex continues to generate record profits from fictitious enemies. The mainstream media continues to play the game, amplifying the war propaganda produced by the think tanks, which are funded by the big defense contractors.

This isn’t a conspiracy theory. This is conspiracy fact. Enemies must be created to keep Washington rich, even as the rest of the country suffers from the destruction of the dollar. That is why the neocons continue to do very well in this Administration.

How the Military Controls America, by Eric Zuesse

Defense policy generally has less to do with defense of the US proper, which could be achieved at a fraction of what’s currently spent playing global cop, and more with lining the pockets of military and intelligence contractors. It’s one reason the US can’t seem to win any of its wars. Winning would stop the gravy train. From Eric Zuesse at strategic-culture.org:

Unlike corporations that sell to consumers, Lockheed Martin and the other top contractors to the US Government are highly if not totally dependent upon sales to governments, for their profits, especially sales to their own government, which they control — they control their home market, which is the US Government, and they use it to sell to its allied governments, all of which foreign governments constitute the export markets for their products and services. These corporations control the US Government, and they control NATO. And, here is how they do it, which is essential to understand, in order to be able to make reliable sense of America’s foreign policies, such as which nations are ‘allies’ of the US Government (such as Saudi Arabia and Israel), and which nations are its ‘enemies’ (such as Libya and Syria) — and are thus presumably suitable for America to invade, or else to overthrow by means of a coup. First, the nation’s head-of-state becomes demonized; then, the invasion or coup happens. And, that’s it. And here’s how.

Because America (unlike Russia) privatized the weapons-industry (and even privatizes to mercenaries some of its battlefield killing and dying), there are, in America, profits for investors to make in invasions and in military occupations of foreign countries; and the billionaires who control these corporations can and do — and, for their financial purposes, they must — buy Congress and the President, so as to keep those profits flowing to themselves. That’s the nature of the war-business, since its markets are governments — but not those governments that the aristocracy want to overthrow and replace. The foreign governments that are to be overthrown are not markets, but are instead targets.  The bloodshed and misery go to those unfortunate lands. But if you control these corporations, then you need these invasions and occupations, and you certainly aren’t concerned about any of the victims, who (unlike those profits) are irrelevant to your business. In fact, to the exact contrary: killing people and destroying buildings etc., are what you sell — that’s what you (as a billionaire with a controlling interest in one of the 100 top contractors to the US Government) are selling to your own government, and to all of the other governments that your country’s cooperative propaganda will characterize as being ‘enemies’ — Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, etc. — and definitely not as being ‘allies’, such as are being characterized these corporations’ foreign markets: Saudi Arabia, EU-NATO, Israel, etcetera. In fact, as regards your biggest foreign markets, they will be those ‘allies’; so, you (that is, the nation’s aristocracy, who own also the news-media etc.) defend them, and you want the US military (the taxpayers and the troops) to support and defend them. It’s defending your market, even though you as the controlling owner of such a corporation aren’t paying the tab for it. The rest of the country is actually paying for all of it, so you’re “free-riding” the public, in this business. It’s the unique nature of the war-business, and a unique boon to its investors.

To continue reading: How the Military Controls America

 

Trump’s National Defense Strategy: Something for Everyone (in the Military-Industrial Complex), by Danny Sjursen

Defense spending is dictated by policy. The many beneficiaries of the US’s global hegemony policy got what they wanted in Trump’s new national defense strategy. It won’t, however, make the US population any safer from foreign invasion than they are now (the US hasn’t been invaded for almost 200 years). From Danny Sjursen at tomdispatch.com:

Think of it as the chicken-or-the-egg question for the ages: Do very real threats to the United States inadvertently benefit the military-industrial complex or does the national security state, by its very nature, conjure up inflated threats to feed that defense machine? 

Back in 2008, some of us placed our faith, naively enough, in the hands of mainstream Democrats — specifically, those of a young senator named Barack Obama.  He would reverse the war policies of George W. Bush, deescalate the unbridled Global War on Terror, and right the ship of state. How’d that turn out?

In retrospect, though couched in a far more sophisticated and peaceable rhetoric than Bush’s, his moves would prove largely cosmetic when it came to this country’s forever wars: a significant reduction in the use of conventional ground troops, but more drones, more commandos, and yet more acts of ill-advised regime change.  Don’t get me wrong: as a veteran of two of Washington’s wars, I was glad when “no-drama” Obama decreased the number of boots on the ground in the Middle East.  It’s now obvious, however, that he left the basic infrastructure of eternal war firmly in place. 

Enter The Donald.

For all his half-baked tweets, insults, and boasts, as well as his refusal to readanything of substance on issues of war and peace, some of candidate Trump’s foreign policy ideas seemed far saner than those of just about any other politician around or the previous two presidents.  I mean, the Iraq War was dumb, and maybe it wasn’t the craziest idea for America’s allies to start thinking about defending themselves, and maybe Washington ought to put some time and diplomatic effort into avoiding a possibly catastrophic clash or set of clashes with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Unfortunately, the White House version of all this proved oh-so-familiar.  President Trump’s decision, for instance, to double down on a losing bet in Afghanistan in spite of his “instincts” (and on similar bets in Somalia, Syria, and elsewhere) and his recently published National Defense Strategy (NDS) leave little doubt that he’s surrendered to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, the mainstream interventionists in his administration.

To continue reading: Trump’s National Defense Strategy: Something for Everyone (in the Military-Industrial Complex)

War Pay: Another Good Year for Weapons Makers Is Guaranteed, by William D. Hartung

This year is not going to be a good year for weapons makers, it’s going to be a banner year. From William D. Hartung at tomdispatch.com:

As Donald Trump might put it, major weapons contractors like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin cashed in “bigly” in his first year in office. They raked in tens of billions of dollars in Pentagon contracts, while posting sharp stock price increases and healthy profits driven by the continuation and expansion of Washington’s post-9/11 wars. But last year’s bonanza is likely to be no more than a down payment on even better days to come for the military-industrial complex.

President Trump moved boldly in his first budget, seeking an additional $54 billion in Pentagon funding for fiscal year 2018. That figure, by the way, equals the entire military budgets of allies like Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Japan. Then, in a bipartisan stampede, Congress egged on Trump to go even higher, putting forward a defense authorization bill that would raise the Pentagon’s budget by an astonishing $85 billion. (And don’t forget that, last spring, the president and Congress had already tacked an extra $15 billion onto the 2017 Pentagon budget.)  The authorization bill for 2018 is essentially just a suggestion, however — the final figure for this year will be determined later this month, if Congress can come to an agreement on how to boost the caps on domestic and defense spending imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011. The final number is likely to go far higher than the staggering figure Trump requested last spring.

And that’s only the beginning of the good news for the big weapons companies. Industry officials and Beltway defense analysts aren’t expectingthe real increase in Pentagon spending to come until the 2019 budget. It’s a subject sure to make it into the mid-term elections. Dangling potential infusions of Pentagon funds in swing states and swing districts is a tried and true way to influence voters in tight races and so will tempt candidates in both parties.

To continue reading: War Pay: Another Good Year for Weapons Makers Is Guaranteed

Trump’s Generals Fatten the Pentagon, by JP Sottile

The US spends more on the military than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany…combined! But according to Trump, his generals, and the defense industry’s minions in Congress, that’s not enough and they bumped spending this year by $80 billion, to $700 billion. From J.P. Sottile at antiwar.com:

Americans are really counting on President Trump’s vaunted team of generals who are widely regarded as “the adults in the room.” Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis make up the much-touted troika that stands between Trump’s itchy Twitter finger and the big red nuclear button.

This ring of rationality around the President has become paramount as Donald “The Dotard” Trump has engaged in an ever-escalating missile-size contest with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Trump originally dubbed the unusually-coiffed leader “Rocket Man” before realizing that he’d better qualify the size of Kim’s projectile by rechristening him as “Little Rocket Man” … perhaps out of fear that someone might confuse Trump’s campy criticism with rocket envy.

These latest, nerve-wracking salvos came after Trump went to the United Nations General Assembly to drop some Bannon-armed bombs on the global gathering. After telling the world how great his presidency has already been and how wonderful a world of fervent nationalism could be if we only tried, Trump went on to warn to Kim Jung UN that the United States is prepared to “totally destroy North Korea.”

It was an unusual approach. It might even have violated the UN Charter. But he blew past all that when he weaponized his Twitter account to warn North Korea’s Foreign Minister that North Korea’s leadership “won’t be around much longer!

That, and some macho goading of the North Koreans with flybys by U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers, led to North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho’s declaration at a U.N.-adjacent presser that the North Koreans regard Trump threats as a “declaration of war.” This “tit-for-tat” back and forth would be much funnier if the stakes weren’t so damn high and the road to a possible conflict wasn’t so damn low.

To continue reading: Trump’s Generals Fatten the Pentagon

 

Memo to the Next Administration: Defense Spending Must Be For Actual Defense, by Ron Paul

There is a vast disparity between what the US spends on defending itself, and its total spending on the military and the intelligence services. Ron Paul explains the difference at ronpaulinstitute.org:

In a disturbing indication of how difficult it would be to bring military spending in line with actual threats overseas, House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R – TX) told President Obama last week that his war funding request of $11.6 billion for the rest of the year was far too low. That figure for the last two months of 2016 is larger than Spain’s budget for the entire year! And this is just a “war-fighting” supplemental, not actual “defense” spending! More US troops are being sent to Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and elsewhere and the supplemental request is a way to pay for them without falling afoul of the “sequestration” limits.

The question is whether this increase in US military activity and spending overseas actually keeps us safer, or whether it simply keeps the deep state and the military-industrial complex alive and well-funded.

Unfortunately many Americans confuse defense spending with military spending. The two terms are used almost interchangeably. But there is a huge difference. I have always said that I wouldn’t cut anything from the defense budget. We need a robust defense of the United States and it would be foolish to believe that we have no enemies or potential enemies.

The military budget is something very different from the defense budget. The military budget is the money spent each year not to defend the United States, but to enrich the military-industrial complex, benefit special interests, regime-change countries overseas, maintain a global US military empire, and provide defense to favored allies. The military budget for the United States is larger than the combined military spending budget of the next seven or so countries down the line.

To get the military budget in line with our real defense needs would require a focus on our actual interests and a dramatic decrease in spending. The spending follows the policy, and the policy right now reflects the neocon and media propaganda that we must run the rest of the world or there will be total chaos. This is sometimes called “American exceptionalism,” but it is far from a “pro-American” approach.

Do we really need to continue spending hundreds of billions of dollars manipulating elections overseas? Destabilizing governments that do not do as Washington tells them? Rewarding those who follow Washington’s orders with massive aid and weapons sales? Do we need to continue the endless war in Afghanistan even as we discover that Saudi Arabia had far more to do with 9/11 than the Taliban we have been fighting for a decade and a half? Do we really need 800 US military bases in more than 70 countries overseas? Do we need to continue to serve as the military protection force for our wealthy NATO partners even though they are more than capable of defending themselves? Do we need our CIA to continue to provoke revolutions like in Ukraine or armed insurgencies like in Syria?

If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then I am afraid we should prepare for economic collapse in very short order. Then, with our economy in ruins, we will face the wrath of those countries overseas which have been in the crosshairs of our interventionist foreign policy. If the answer is no, then we must work to convince our countrymen to reject the idea of Empire and embrace the United States as a constitutional republic that no longer goes abroad seeking monsters to slay. The choice is ours.

http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2016/november/13/memo-to-the-next-administration-defense-spending-must-be-for-actual-defense/

We Don’t Know If the Department of Defense Is Actually Providing Security, by Ivan Eland

In addition to being unable to cleanly win a war (with the exception of Grenada) since World War II, the Department of Defense has done more than its share to bankrupt the United States. From Ivan Eland at antiwar.com:

The U.S. Army has been falsifying its accounting records to the tune of $6.5 trillion for the year, according to a recent report by Department of Defense auditors. And the Department of Defense has been falsifying its accounting on a massive scale for years, as was reported by Reuters in 2013 and others stretching back to at least 2001. A private company or individual would have probably been arrested years ago for such practices, but the government will never arrest itself. Yet the taxpayers need to penalize this flagrant behavior. Other government departments regularly pass audits, but the sacrosanct DOD, shielded by “national security,” is apparently exempt from such annoyances. And yet given the recent hyped threat environment, despite the actual very low probability of terrorist attacks, and the usual desire in a presidential election to avoid appearing “unpatriotic,” both presidential candidates have pledged to lavish even more cash on defense – despite its already getting a massive $573 billion in 2016.

Yet how can we get much “national security” if the Army, DoD, Congress, and the public cannot tell how trillions of taxpayer dollars are being spent? The fraudulent data in DOD accounting systems render them essentially useless for making resource and management decisions.

In 2001, I went to the Pentagon to get a briefing on the DOD budget. The then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, never a lover of his own Pentagon bureaucracy, had just publicly compared the efficiency of the DOD five-year spending plan to the five-year plans in the former Soviet Union. Also, the media had been running stories about how the DOD accounting system could not account for $1 trillion in spending. Yet, Victoria Clarke, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, appeared flummoxed when I asked why the taxpayers should be willing to increase the defense budget even one dollar, given these facts and concerns. At another meeting around that time Dov Zacheim, the DoD’s Comptroller (the chief budgeter), admitted that the massive problems with DOD accounting would likely not be solved for another decade or more. It has been about 15 years since that time, and Pentagon accounting seems to be no better.

Because the United States resides in stable North America, is oceans away from most of the world’s conflict zones, has weak and friendly neighbors, and has the world’s most potent nuclear arsenal, it is – unlike Russia, China, Germany, France, India, Pakistan, and most other major powers – very intrinsically secure. The bulk of foreign terrorist attacks in the United States, which are much lower in numbers than in countries closer to conflict zones, are blowback from the United States’ self-appointed role as world policeman, which thus has little to do with national security and much to do with actually undermining it.

Despite this intrinsic security, the United States accounts for 37 percent of world defense spending (but only about 16 percent of global GDP) and expends on defense equivalent to the next seven largest spending nations. So instead of ever increasing the defense budget, it could actually be lowered and should be, because the United States is in danger of overextension, with a massive $19 trillion national debt strangling its economy – the root of all future national political, military, cultural, and social power.

The expenses of the US Army could be cut back by transferring most of its heavy armored and mechanized divisions into the cheaper National Guard. This would make it harder for politicians to get the country involved in overseas quagmires on the ground, but still provide a potent land force capability to mobilize in case a legitimate security emergency arises. The savings from such transfer first could be put to fixing the accounting systems of the Army and DOD. After establishing a tight time window for that to be accomplished, future savings could be used to close the still yawning federal budget deficit.

http://original.antiwar.com/eland/2016/08/26/dont-know-department-defense-actually-providing-security/

Do We Need To ‘Rebuild the Military’? by Ron Paul

From Ron Paul at RonPaulLibertyReport.com, via antiwar.com:

The Republican presidential debates have become so heated and filled with insults, it almost seems we are watching a pro wrestling match. There is no civility, and I wonder whether the candidates are about to come to blows. But despite what appears to be total disagreement among them, there is one area where they all agree. They all promise that if elected they will “rebuild the military.”

What does “rebuild the military” mean? Has the budget been gutted? Have the useless weapons programs like the F-35 finally been shut down? No, the United States still spends more on its military than the next 14 countries combined. And the official military budget is only part of the story. The total spending on the US empire is well over one trillion dollars per year. Under the Obama Administration the military budget is still 41 percent more than it was in 2001, and seven percent higher than at the peak of the Cold War.

Russia, which the neocons claim is the greatest threat to the United States, spends about one-tenth what we do on its military. China, the other “greatest threat,” has a military budget less than 25 percent of ours.

Last week the Pentagon announced it is sending a small naval force of US warships to the South China Sea because, as Commander of the US Pacific Command Adm. Harry Harris told the House Armed Services Committee, China is militarizing the area. Yes, China is supposedly militarizing the area around China, so the US is justified in sending its own military to the area. Is that a wise use of the US military?

The US military maintains over 900 bases in 130 countries. It is actively involved in at least seven wars right now, including in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and elsewhere. US Special Forces are deployed in 134 countries across the globe. Does that sound like a military that has been gutted?

I do not agree with the presidential candidates, but I do agree that the military needs to be rebuilt. I would rebuild it in a very different way, however. I would not rebuild it according to the demands of the military-industrial complex, which cares far more about getting rich than about protecting our country. I would not rebuild the military so that it can overthrow more foreign governments who refuse to do the bidding of Washington’s neocons. I would not rebuild the military so that it can better protect our wealthy allies in Europe, NATO, Japan, and South Korea. I would not rebuild the military so that it can better occupy countries overseas and help create conditions for blowback here at home.

No. The best way to really “rebuild” the US military would be to stop abusing the military in the first place. The purpose of the US military is to defend the United States. It is not to make the world safe for oil pipelines, or corrupt Gulf monarchies, or NATO, or Israel. Unlike the neocons who are so eager to send our troops to war, I have actually served in the US military. I understand that to keep our military strong we must constrain our foreign policy. We must adopt a policy of nonintervention and a strong defense of this country. The neocons will weaken our country and our military by promoting more war. We need to “rebuild” the military by restoring as its mission the defense of the United States, not of Washington’s overseas empire.

http://original.antiwar.com/paul/2016/03/06/do-we-need-to-rebuild-the-military/

Huge Disconnect Between NATO Bellicosity And Declining Defense Spending Throughout Europe, by Daniel McAdams

From Daniel McAdams at ronpaulinstitute.org:

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, a former prime minister of Norway, took the podium during last week’s meeting of NATO defense ministers to hype the Russian threat to NATO while downplaying recent NATO military moves on Russia’s border.

While criticizing “a more assertive Russia investing heavily in defence,” Stoltenberg countered that, “We do not seek confrontation [with Russia], and we do not want a new arms race.”

He then announced that the new enhanced NATO Response Force will triple in size to include 40,000 personnel instead of the originally announced 13,000 and that NATO would be setting up six new east European mini-headquarters in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.

A joint statement of the NATO defense ministers underscored Stoltenberg’s Russia points:

Russia is challenging Euro-Atlantic security through military action, coercion and intimidation of its neighbours. We continue to be concerned about Russia’s aggressive actions.

If NATO is to be taken at its word, these accusations should set off alarm bells. One would think that NATO member countries, faced with these “aggressive actions,” would be scrambling to ramp up their military spending to whatever is necessary to counter this military threat from Russia.

Yet strangely the opposite is happening. Despite the heated rhetoric coming from Stoltenberg and his spin factory, NATO HQ is having a difficult time getting its member states interested at all in the Russian threat. NATO member countries — particularly those most geographically vulnerable to the claimed Russian aggression — are not only not ramping up military spending, but in some cases are actually cutting their budgets.

To continue reading: Huge Disconnect

http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2015/june/27/nato-hypes-russia-threat-while-nato-members-reduce-military-spending/