Tag Archives: Military spending

…And Now For The Bad News, by Simon Black

To think that the federal government can pull a rabbit from its hat and painlessly solve its debt problem is to believe in a fiscal Easter Bunny. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

In the late 1760s and early 1770s, the government of France was in a deep panic.

They had recently suffered a disastrous and costly defeat in the Seven Years War, and the national budget was a complete mess.

France had spent most of the previous century as the world’s dominant superpower, and the government budget reflected that status.

From public hospitals to shiny monuments and museums, social programs and public works projects, overseas colonies and a huge military, France had created an enormous cost structure for itself.

Eventually the costs of maintaining the empire vastly exceeded their tax revenue.

And by the late 1760s, France hadn’t had a balanced budget in decades.

Debt was ballooning, interest payments were rising, and the government of Louis XV was desperate to do something about it.

There’s a famous story in which the Comptroller-General of Finances summoned all the government ministers to make deep budget cuts.

But no one could come up with anything substantial.

The overseas colonies were too important to cut.

And they couldn’t cut public hospitals… because too many people were now relying on them. Similarly they couldn’t cut veteran pensions either.

At the end of the session they could hardly find anything to cut that would make a meaningful difference.

All of their fancy programs and benefits had become too ingrained in society at that point; and any cut would have proven politically disastrous.

I thought of this story earlier this week when the US government released a sweeping budget proposal that aims to cut the deficit over the next ten years.

In fairness I’m always happy to see any government cutting spending.

But before uncorking the champagne bottles it’s important to understand some basic realities:

The budget slashes $3.6 trillion in spending through 2028 while proposing zero cuts to Defense, Social Security, and Medicare.

To continue reading: …And Now For The Bad News

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The American Way of War Is a Budget-Breaker, Never Has a Society Spent More for Less, by William Hartung

On to more substantial things, like the costs of military and war. So far Trump is running up the tab, which is far more consequential than firing James Comey. From William D. Hartung at tomdispatch.com:

When Donald Trump wanted to “do something” about the use of chemical weapons on civilians in Syria, he had the U.S. Navy lob 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield (cost: $89 million). The strike was symbolic at best, as the Assad regime ran bombing missions from the same airfield the very next day, but it did underscore one thing: the immense costs of military action of just about any sort in our era.

While $89 million is a rounding error in the Pentagon’s $600 billion budget, it represents real money for other agencies.  It’s more than twice the $38 million annual budget of the U.S. Institute of Peace and more than half the $149 million budget of the National Endowment of the Arts, both slated for elimination under Trump’s budget blueprint. If the strikes had somehow made us — or anyone — safer, perhaps they would have been worth it, but they did not.

In this century of nonstop military conflict, the American public has never fully confronted the immense costs of the wars being waged in its name.  The human costs — including an estimated 370,000 deaths, more than half of them civilians, and the millions who have been uprooted from their homes and sent into flight, often across national borders — are surely the most devastating consequences of these conflicts.  But the economic costs of our recent wars should not be ignored, both because they are so massive in their own right and because of the many peaceable opportunities foregone to pay for them.

Even on the rare occasions when the costs of American war preparations and war making are actually covered in the media, they never receive the sort of attention that would be commensurate with their importance.  Last September, for example, the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute released a paper demonstrating that, since 2001, the U.S. had racked up $4.79 trillion in current and future costs from its wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria, as well as in the war at home being waged by the Department of Homeland Security.  That report was certainly covered in a number of major outlets, including the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the Atlantic, and U.S. News and World Report.  Given its importance, however, it should have been on the front page of every newspaper in America, gone viral on social media, and been the subject of scores of editorials.  Not a chance.

To continue reading: The American Way of War Is a Budget-Breaker, Never Has a Society Spent More for Less

‘Defense’ – The U.S. Military Outspends These Countries Combined, by Tyler Durden

The US outspends the next seven nations combined on its military, and President Trump has proposed spending another $54 billion for our “depleted military.” From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Not long into Trump’s presidency, he announced his plans to increase the country’s defense budget in 2018 by 54 billion dollars. The extra money is seen as necessary in order to “rebuild the depleted military of the United States of America at a time we most need it”. Whether justified or not, this extra outlay will take the U.S. even further ahead of the rest of the world in terms of outright military spending.

The infographic below shows how the current budget compares to the world’s other top spenders.

Infographic: Defense: The U.S. Outspends These Countries Combined | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2016 U.S. defense spending outstripped that of China, Russia, UKFrance, Japan, Saudi Arabia and India combined. When it comes to spending as a share of own GDP, the United States’ huge output naturally brings them down the rankings somewhat. Of the top outright spenders, Saudi Arabia is way ahead, with an estimated 10 percent.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-04-24/defense-us-military-outspends-these-countries-combined

 

Beware the Dogs of War: Is the American Empire on the Verge of Collapse? by John W. Whitehead

John W. Whitehead’s math and statistics are a little sketchy (if the debt is growing at $35 million/hour it is growing at $840 million/24 hours, not $2 billion), but the message isn’t: America’s empire has bled it dry. From Whitehead at rutherford.org:

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes… known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. — James Madison

Waging endless wars abroad (in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Syria) isn’t making America—or the rest of the world—any safer, it’s certainly not making America great again, and it’s undeniably digging the U.S. deeper into debt.

In fact, it’s a wonder the economy hasn’t collapsed yet.

Indeed, even if we were to put an end to all of the government’s military meddling and bring all of the troops home today, it would take decades to pay down the price of these wars and get the government’s creditors off our backs. Even then, government spending would have to be slashed dramatically and taxes raised.

You do the math.

The government is $19 trillion in debt: War spending has ratcheted up the nation’s debt. The debt has now exceeded a staggering $19 trillion and is growing at an alarming rate of $35 million/hour and $2 billion every 24 hours. Yet while defense contractors are getting richer than their wildest dreams, we’re in hock to foreign nations such as Japan and China (our two largest foreign holders at $1.13 trillion and $1.12 trillion respectively).

The Pentagon’s annual budget consumes almost 100% of individual income tax revenue. If there is any absolute maxim by which the federal government seems to operate, it is that the American taxpayer always gets ripped off, especially when it comes to paying the tab for America’s attempts to police the globe. Having been co-opted by greedy defense contractors, corrupt politicians and incompetent government officials, America’s expanding military empire is bleeding the country dry at a rate of more than $57 million per hour.

To continue reading: Beware the Dogs of War: Is the American Empire on the Verge of Collapse?

 

Trump’s Military Budget Is Not NATO’s Fault, by Sheldon Richman

The $54 billion increase in military spending President Trump requested is more than the entire military budget of every nation except Saudi Arabia and China. From Sheldon Richman at antiwar.com:

President Trump’s budget proposal would increase military spending $54 billion, not quite a 10 percent increase over the current level. According to Quartz, the increase alone is more than all but two countries – China and Saudi Arabia – spend on their militaries. (China spends $145 billion, Saudi Arabia $57 billion, Russia $47, and Iran $16 billion, the International Institute for Strategic Studies reports.)

Meanwhile, Trump implies that NATO members take advantage of America by not paying enough for own defense. When German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Washington recently, Trump tweeted: “Germany owes … vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”

As we’ve come to expect, Trump gets it wrong. NATO members don’t pay dues to NATO, and they don’t pay the United States for defense. However, NATO requires members to budget at least 2 percent of their GDP for their own militaries. Some members haven’t spent that much, but that has changed in recent years.

Trump leaves the impression that Americans shoulder an unnecessarily large military burden because some NATO members underfund their military establishments. But that’s nonsense because that’s not how things work in Washington. Americans don’t pay more because Germans Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese, and Norwegians pay less.

At other times Trump seems to acknowledge this. In his campaign he never said the U.S. military budget would be smaller if NATO members paid up. Rather, he said he wanted to make America “strong again” – so strong that no one would dare “mess with us.” His budget message said, “In these dangerous times, this public safety and national security Budget Blueprint is a message to the world—a message of American strength, security, and resolve.” His address to a joint session of Congress also did not justify greater military spending by pointing to how little the allies spend. It was all about making America “great again.”

To continue reading: Trump’s Military Budget Is Not NATO’s Fault

U.S. Military Personnel Deployments by Country, by The Visual Capitalism

Good information on the American Empire’s outposts, and military spending, from visualcapitalist.com:

U.S. Military Personnel Deployments by Country

200K ACTIVE TROOPS OVERSEAS IN 177 COUNTRIES

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

There was no shortage of cuts proposed in Trump’s budget for 2018, which was released earlier this week.

However, one of the few departments that did not receive a haircut was the Department of Defense. If the proposed budget ultimately passes in Congress, the DoD would be allocated an extra $54 billion in federal funding – a 10% increase that would be one of the largest one-year defense budget increases in American History.

To put the proposed increase in context, the United States already spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined. Meanwhile, the additional $54 billion is about the size of the United Kingdom’s entire defense budget.

Country Military Spending (2015) Share

United States $596 billion 35.8%
China $215 billion 12.9%
Saudi Arabia $87 billion 5.2%
Russia $66 billion 4.0%
United Kingdom $55 billion 3.3%
India $51 billion 3.1%
France $51 billion 3.1%
Japan $41 billion 2.5%
Germany $39 billion 2.4%
South Korea $36 billion 2.2%
Others $427 billion 25.6%

“BE ALL YOU CAN BE”

With over half of all U.S. discretionary spending being put towards the military each year, the U.S. is able to have extensive operations both at home and abroad. Our chart for this week breaks down military personnel based on the latest numbers released by the DoD on February 27, 2017.

In total, excluding civilian support staff, there are about 2.1 million troops. Of those, 1.3 million are on active duty, while about 800,000 are in reserve or part of the National Guard.

On a domestic basis, there are about 1.1 million active troops stationed in the United States, and here’s how they are grouped based on branch of service:

Military Branch Active Domestic Personnel As a Percentage
Army 394,236
35%
Navy 283,499
25%
Marine Corps 149,992
13%
Air Force 249,738
22%
Coast Guard 38,659
3%
Total 1,116,124
100%
Internationally, there are just under 200,000 troops that are stationed in 177 countries throughout the world.

To continue reading: U.S. Military Personnel Deployments by Country

On Military and Spending, It’s Trump Versus Trump, by Ron Paul

Here’s two different perspectives on Donald Trump’s military policies—one from Trump and the other from Trump. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

It can be a challenge to follow the pronouncements of President Trump, as he often seems to change his position on any number of items from week to week, or from day to day, or even from minute to minute. Consider his speech last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). It was reported as “fiery” and “blistering,” but it was also full of contradictions.

In the speech, President Trump correctly pointed out that the last 15 years of US military action in the Middle East has been an almost incomprehensible waste of money – six trillion dollars, he said – and that after all that US war and meddling the region was actually in worse shape than before we started.

It would have been better for US Presidents to have spent the last 15 years at the beach than to have pursued its Middle East war policy, he added, stating that the US infrastructure could have been rebuilt several times over with the money wasted on such militarism.

All good points from the President.

But then minutes later in the same speech he seemed to forget what he just said about wasting money on militarism. He promised he would be “upgrading all of our military, all of our military, offensive, defensive, everything,” in what would be “one of the greatest military buildups in American history.”

This “greatest” military buildup is in addition to the trillions he plans on spending to make sure the US nuclear arsenal is at the “top of the pack” in the world, as he told the press last Thursday. And that is in addition to the trillion dollar nuclear “modernization” program that is carrying over from the Obama Administration.

Of course when it comes to nuclear weapons, the United States already is at the “top of the pack,” having nearly 7,000 nuclear warheads. How many times do we need to be able to blow up the world?

At CPAC, President Trump is worried about needlessly spending money on military misadventures, but then in the same speech he promised even more military misadventures in the Middle East.

To continue reading: On Military and Spending, It’s Trump Versus Trump