Tag Archives: Military spending

Fueling the Warfare State, by William D. Hartung

There’s a yawning gap between what the U.S. spends on military, intelligence, and related costs and what every other country spends. From William D. Hartung at tomsdispatch.com:

America’s $1.4 Trillion “National Security” Budget Makes Us Ever Less Safe

This March, when the Biden administration presented a staggering $813 billion proposal for “national defense,” it was hard to imagine a budget that could go significantly higher or be more generous to the denizens of the military-industrial complex. After all, that request represented far more than peak spending in the Korean or Vietnam War years, and well over $100 billion more than at the height of the Cold War.

It was, in fact, an astonishing figure by any measure — more than two-and-a-half times what China spends; more, in fact, than (and hold your hats for this one!) the national security budgets of the next nine countries, including China and Russia, combined. And yet the weapons industry and hawks in Congress are now demanding that even more be spent.

In recent National Defense Authorization Act proposals, which always set a marker for what Congress is willing to fork over to the Pentagon, the Senate and House Armed Services Committees both voted to increase the 2023 budget yet again — by $45 billion in the case of the Senate and $37 billion for the House. The final figure won’t be determined until later this year, but Congress is likely to add tens of billions of dollars more than even the Biden administration wanted to what will most likely be a record for the Pentagon’s already bloated budget.

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All War; Hot Cold, Geopolitical, International or Domestic, Is Always War Against All of Us, by Gary D. Barnett

Rational people have no use for war. From Gary D. Barnett at lewrockwell.com:

“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”

~ George Orwell, 1984

Due to the recent (and not so recent) bombastic geopolitical idiocy by the U.S. pundits concerning Ukraine, there has been much talk about the possibility of World War III. These statements are meant to strike fear in the populace, and propagandize the idea that a single enemy exists, that ‘real’ global war is likely, and that ‘world war’ is meant to bring an end to tyranny. This notion is confusing at best, but everything reported about war by governments, mainstream media, much alternative media, and by the ignorant public at large, is little more than lies and deceit. The common thinking about war is literally absurd, as war has been continually waged throughout the entirety of our existence. As far as humanity is concerned, war is and has always been, perpetual. With that said, all war is not against a single or even multiple ‘enemies,’ but is against all of us. When governments exist, constant war is inevitable.

War takes on many forms; most of which are not openly discussed by the claimed ‘news outlets.’ Although the U.S. always claims moral superiority, history would dictate that the U.S. for example, has been involved in or prosecuting aggressive war for approximately 93% of its existence, but alas, it is most assuredly closer to 100%. Just because troops are not known to be harassing, tormenting, maiming, raping, and killing innocent people here or in faraway lands, does not mean that war, war plans, and psychological war are not always active in one manner or another. U.S. aggression is monumental, and surpasses all other nations on earth, now and in the past, and U.S. policy that is total aggression against its own population is never ending. The ‘covid’ hoax is just the latest example.

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The War Party Wants a New Cold War, and the Money That Comes with It, by Ryan McMaken

It’s good to know that amidst the horrors of war, defense contractors are making money. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

In perhaps the most predictable column of the year, the Wall Street Journal this week featured a column by Walter Russell Mead declaring it’s “Time to Increase Defense Spending.”

Using the Beijing Olympics and the potential Ukraine war to push for funneling ever more taxpayer dollars into military spending, Mead outlines how military spending ought to be raised to match the sort of spending not seen since the hot days of the Cold War.

Mead claims that “[t]he world has changed, and American policy must change with it.” The presumption here is that the status quo is one of declining military spending, in which Americans have embraced some sort of isolationist foreign policy. But the reality doesn’t reflect that claim at all. The status quo is really one of very high levels of military spending, and even outright growth in most years. This sort of gaslighting by military hawks is right up there with left-wing attempts to portray the modern economy as one of unregulated laissez-faire.


Rather, according to estimates from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, military spending is set to reach a post–World War II high in 2022, rising to more than $1.1 trillion. That includes $770 billion spent on the Pentagon plus nuclear arms and related spending. Also included is current spending on veterans. Keeping veteran spending apart from defense spending is a convenient and sneaky political fiction, but veteran spending is just deferred spending for past active-duty members—necessary to attract and retain personnel. And finally, we have the “defense” portion of the interest of the debt, estimated to be about 20 percent of total interest spending. Taking all this together, we find military spending has increased thirteen years out of the last twenty and is now at or near the highest levels of spending seen since the Second World War.

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How Awesome Is “Awesome”? By Andrew Bacevich

The military loses wars. Nobody is held to account. The military’s budget keeps increasing. Nothing ever changes. From Andrew Bacevich at tomdispatch.com:

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch” is an old American adage. Venerable, time-tested, and seemingly true, though here’s an exception: retired general, disgraced former CIA chief, and leaker of classified information, David Petraeus.

For years, I’ve presented the retired general with an opportunity for that rarest of opportunities, a noon nosh out for nothing. More than five years ago, I offered to take “King David” to lunch at New York City’s tony Four Seasons. That posh restaurant — a Manhattan mainstay for 60 years — is now long gone, but my appetite for that meal remains. Earlier this month, I renewed my offer to take him to lunch. An intermediary replied: “Hi, Nick — Appreciate your interest, but he respectfully declines.”

Petraeus is in a rare position. Leakers of government secrets often end up eating their lunch in a prison mess hall. After former CIA agent John Kiriakou pleaded guilty to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by disclosing the name of a covert CIA officer to a freelance reporter, he was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. After Stephen Kim, a former State Department official, merely discussed a classified report about North Korea with a Fox News reporter and pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Espionage Act, he was handed a 13-month prison sentence.

Petraeus, on the other hand, leaked hundreds of secret documents to his then-lover, yet pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor and served no jail time, allowing him, as the New York Times put it, “to focus on his lucrative post-government career.” More specifically, he became a partner at New York private equity firm Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co. L.P. (KKR), where he also serves as the chairman of the KKR Global Institute. There, he’s overseen “the institute’s thought leadership platform focused on geopolitical and macro-economic trends, as well as environmental, social, and governance issues.” He also serves on the board of directors of Optiv (“a market-leading provider of end-to-end cyber security solutions”) and of OneStream (“which supports a cloud-based platform that helps companies close their books accurately and do planning, budgeting, forecasting, and analysis”), while acting as “a venture investor in some 20 startups.” And when he’s not engaged in “thought leadership” or venture investing, Petraeus takes time out to pontificate on national security issues, like praising the U.S. armed forces, while pressing for the endless military occupation of, and lamenting the end of, the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

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When Your Government Ends A War But Increases The Military Budget, You’re Being Scammed, by Caitlin Johnstone

When was the last time the military’s budget was reduced? From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

The US Senate has passed its National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) military spending bill for the fiscal year of 2022, setting the budget at an astronomical $778 billion by a vote of 89 to 10. The bill has already been passed by the House, now requiring only the president’s signature. An amendment to cease facilitating Saudi Arabia’s atrocities in Yemen was stripped from the bill.

“The most controversial parts of the 2,100-page military spending bill were negotiated behind closed doors and passed the House mere hours after it was made public, meaning members of Congress couldn’t possibly have read the whole thing before casting their votes,” reads a Politico article on the bill’s passage by Lindsay Koshgarian, William Barber II and Liz Theoharis.

The US military had a budget of $14 billion for its scaled-down Afghanistan operations in the fiscal year of 2021, down from $17 billion in 2020. If the US military budget behaved normally, you’d expect it to come down by at least $14 billion in 2022 following the withdrawal of US troops and official end of the war in Afghanistan. Instead, this new $778 billion total budget is a five percent increase from the previous year.

“Months after US President Joe Biden’s administration pulled the last American troops out of Afghanistan as part of his promise to end the country’s ‘forever wars’, the United States Congress approved a $777.7bn defence budget, a five percent increase from last year,” Al Jazeera reports.

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Addicted to Military Keynesianism: Why Can’t Even Our Most Progressive Politicians Break with the Military Industrial Complex? by Joan Roelofs

The military has a lot of money to spread around, and it spreads that loot all over the country. From Joan Roelofs at covertactionmagazine.com:

New Hampshire, like many other states, is deeply penetrated by military culture, funding, and institutions. Yet its presence is hardly visible to many people. This is amazing, as the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about was a mere fragment of its scope today.

An interactive map of the New Hampshire military-industrial-educational-recreational complex is available here: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1DW10hd6cE7XmFuNIrycFLEShv7f0RtE-&usp=sharing

Military contractor campaign donations, propaganda, and patriotism account for much of the support for our endless wars and preparation for them, costly in economic, environmental, and human ways. In addition, a multitude of interests sustains the military and its budget, and encourages silence about its wars of aggression and other activities.

The antiwar movement must contend with the many ordinary citizens who may have no desire to kill people, destroy the environment, or overthrow governments. They are trying to earn a living, fund their charitable organizations and schools, or save their communities from economic devastation. At present, without a national budget devoted to human needs, they see no other choice but to slip under the wings of the lush military budget.

The military contracts for almost everything. Along with other government enterprises, such as prisons and highways, this further ensures their survival while contributing to booming regional economies where unemployment levels are low.

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Who Stole the People’s Money? by Philip Giraldi

The stuff that goes in Washington, sub rosa and out of sight, is nowhere near as disturbing as the crimes that are transacted right out in the open. From Philip Giraldi at unz.com:

You might well ask why the world’s most expensive army can’t fight

Too many American politicians at all levels of government have come to believe that your money is their money. Federal, state and local tax rates are set annually and often arbitrarily based on the issues that elected officials and tax managers consider to be important. Input from the public is basically unwelcome except at election time but, even then, the breakdown of dollars and cents that will be coming out of one’s pocket is rarely under discussion.

It is past time to consider what the pie in the sky being proposed by the Democrats, since they are currently in power, will actually cost the American taxpayer. Bear in mind, that Democratic Party proposals that are now being floated are directed at certain constituencies that the party is seeking to weld into an unbeatable coalition that will defy all Republican attempts to recover either Congress or the Presidency. Similar activity is taking place at the state and local level. There is no consideration of the fact that government, at least theoretically, is intended to benefit all of the citizenry, not a select portion thereof that will henceforth be required to deliver the vote loyally. Politicians who manipulate the system with that in mind should be sent to jail, but alas, in the US system no one is ever punished, even if they start a war under false premises as did former President George W Bush and his apparatchiks.

Under the Democrats, the entire process whereby the spoils derived from being power are distributed is being driven by social engineering, i.e. race and gender. One of President Joe Biden’s first moves upon taking office was to propose special payments and other incentives for black farmers, who, his administration argued, had been disadvantaged because they had been systematically denied loans for many years. It should seem outrageous that federal tax dollars were to be used to support only one racial group, but not a single Democrat appeared to be disturbed. Fortunately, a federal court ruled favorably in a case brought by a white farmer claiming that racially directed government assistance is unconstitutional as it violates the “equal protection under the law” principle. The Democrats are, however, continuing to push for their program of tying blacks firmly into their coalition, even if it means creating a system that is manifestly and even transparently unfair.

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America Still Loves the Warfare State, by José Niño

A lot of the dollars the military spends could be put to better uses, like paying off debt or returned to taxpayers. From José Niño at mises.org:

he Biden administration’s announcement in mid-April to withdraw American troops looks like a positive first step in the right direction in ending America’s longest military conflict to date. Undoubtedly, questions remain about the sincerity of such a withdrawal, and whether there will still be a residual military presence left over under the cloak of “counterterrorism” or some type of arrangement with private defense contractors to maintain order in the graveyard of empires.

Looking back, it was rather amusing all the stops the corporate press pulled out to derail former president Donald Trump’s previous attempts to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. The Russian bounty program took the cake as the most significant news story used to thwart Trump’s sensible withdrawal proposal in Afghanistan. On that occasion, the media started spreading stories about Russian military intelligence paying militants connected to the Taliban bounties for killing Americans and allied armed forces in the Afghan conflict. In its predictable salvo against the Trump administration, the corporate press made a major stink about this program throughout the 2020 elections, adding another chapter to the ridiculous anti-Russia saga.

Farcically enough, once Biden was safely installed in office, the US intelligence community began to walk back allegations regarding the bounty program by noting that there was not sufficient evidence from US military intelligence to corroborate its existence. Whether or not Biden’s withdrawal was motivated by politics is up for speculation.

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The F-35 and Other Legacies of Failure, by Dan Grazier

Don’t hold your breath, but there’s a possibility that the F-35 boondoggle will be stopped before it soaks taxpayers for additional hundreds of billions of dollars. From Dan Frazier at pogo.org:

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen; Illustration: Leslie Garvey / POGO)

For 20 years, the Pentagon’s program to develop the F-35 aircraft appeared invincible, even as the project hit repeated delays and went well over budget. And then, just within the span of a few weeks, official support for the F-35 has seemingly evaporated. It could not come soon enough.

At the end of the Trump administration, the acting secretary of defense called it a “piece of…” The Air Force chief admitted the F-35 would never be able to live up to its original purpose. And now, the chair of the House Armed Services Committee said we should stop throwing money down the F-35 “rathole.”

This all comes as the program is rightfully on a list of programs facing a Pentagon review that could result in recommended cuts to the total number of aircraft to be purchased. It signals a tectonic shift in support for a program that previously received near universal official support from the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill.

This shift is due to the sudden realization in Washington, despite years of warnings, that the F-35 is too challenging and costly to maintain.

And if there are to be major changes to the F-35 program, now is the time to do it. Otherwise, if the program does manage to squeak through operational testing, Congress could then authorize a bulk purchase of F-35s, something the program office and the manufacturer have wanted for years. But even if the plane is technically deemed operational, such a move would saddle the services with hundreds of flawed, high-maintenance aircraft, which will depress readiness rates, further strain the already harrowed maintenance crews, and require years of costly retrofits.

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Joe Biden waves the white flag on the Pentagon budget, by Mark Perry

The Biden defense budget gives the military even more than it wanted. From Mark Perry at responsiblestatecraft.org:

It appears that the U.S. military has dodged a bullet. Defense officials reported last week that rather than cut the Pentagon budget, the Biden White House will “flatline” military expenditures, postponing a reset of defense spending priorities.

A senior Pentagon official confirms the report, first headlined in Breaking Defense, telling me that the Biden defense budget (due for release on May 3), will come in at just over $696 billion (total national security outlays, including those to the Department of Energy, could total more than $735 billion), a figure comparable to the base funding provided to the Pentagon in 2021. Put simply, the new Biden administration will keep in place the lavish spending on defense that was a hallmark of the Trump years — a decision likely to spur howls of protest from Biden’s progressive supporters.

The report that Biden’s new defense budget will look a lot like the old defense budget brought sighs of relief to defense hawks who’d spent the last two years prepping for deep cuts in military outlays, reflecting the economic cratering that has accompanied the global pandemic as well as growing unease over the “Trump bump,” which saw defense expenditures rise by $100 billion over three years. “With slim Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and resistance among moderate Democrats to cutting defense significantly, a major reduction in the budget is unlikely,” a Center for Strategic and International Studies paper recently noted.

The senior Pentagon official who spoke with Responsible Statecraft agrees. “If you had asked me just six months ago I would have said that we’re going to have cuts, and maybe even big cuts, in defense spending,” the official said. “But no more. This is all politics. Biden doesn’t want to endanger his domestic agenda, which means he’s not going to pick a fight over defense dollars.”

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