The military budget of the United States has long been much higher than it reasonably should be. At approximately $600 billion annually, it is higher already than at least the highest next seven countries’ military budgets combined, and it may in actuality be even higher than that. Consider that former President Obama remarked not too long ago that the U.S. military budget was bigger than the military budgets of the next eight countries combined. Obama is privy to information classified from the general public, and that includes information regarding military spending. The additional difference between one or a few countries military budgets may not seem like much, but in reality, it’s billions of dollars, billions that U.S. taxpayers should spend in better ways. This comes while military spending has increasingly been going up and oversight in how it’s used has been going down.
The Pentagon has actually been violating federal law for decades by failing to disclose sufficient auditable data to the Government Accountability Office of the U.S. Congress. It is the only federal department or federal agency that fails to do this, despite how the Department of Defense has the largest budget by far in the approximately $1.1 trillion discretionary spending, or by what’s appropriated by Congress outside of the approximately $3 trillion mandatory budget. A lack of transparency in government tends to lead to corruption and wastefulness, and the military budget budget is no exception to that. Years ago, billions were reported to have been “lost” resulting from the criminal invasion of Iraq. Recently, it was reported that there was a wasteful $125 billion of bureaucracy being spent at the Department of Defense. It’s really little surprise that misuse of public funds is at such a grotesque level when there is such a lack of clarity in how it’s being spent.
And why, for example, should the excess billions be spent on weapons that spread violence and hatred instead of on reducing child poverty? Why should there be too much money for war and not enough for helping the poor?
President Dwight Eisenhower warned in his farewell address about the military-industrial complex, and unfortunately, those warnings proved correct. Military contractors benefit from the majority of U.S. military spending, in a relationship that represents taxpayer monies being transferred to corporations. It is sinister that this money is then used against the public interest.
Bombing countries overseas, keeping a generally unknown but high number of oppressive military bases, utilizing drone strikes that represent terrorism, murdering innocent civilians in raids, and other policies of militarism do a lot to undermine safety in the U.S. Those military policies are not defeating terror – they are breeding it and participating in it. Whistleblower reports have detailed the 90% civilian death tolls in past drone strike operations, in what are U.S. war crimes abroad. It is unfortunate but true that that this will destabilize other societies and create people who would like to retaliate against the U.S. in violently harmful ways. This has great implications, since one terrorist attack is all it takes to drown out other issues and lead to a more repressive society. The 9/11 attacks (motivated to a significant extent by military aggression) lead to the civil liberties-shredding Patriot Act, the war in Iraq, the War on Terror, warrantless surveillance, among a whole cast of other negative effects. The 9/11 attacks lead to at least $10 billion in infrastructure costs, and for the U.S., the costs of war over the last 16 years have added up to around $5 trillion.There are also the costs of human repression and lost lives, which cannot truly be measured by money.
Also important to note is that the phrase “defense spending” or “defense budget” should either be avoided or used with caution. The military budget as it currently is and has been in the past erroneously risks blowback on the very American public it is supposed to protect. Offensive warfare is present when the incomes and savings of Americans are attacked. Offensive warfare is present when Americans are illegally subjected to mass surveillance by the NSA (whose parent agency is the DoD) and otherwise conspired against by the Deep State. Offensive warfare is perhaps most importantly conducted on the minds of Americans, through which propaganda terms such as “defense spending” are generated.
A silver lining is that genuine progressives and American libertarians tend to detest the large, bloated military budget. There’s a convergence, then, to cut and improve it from across the political spectrum. It’s what will be needed if the military budget is ever to be reasonably reduced (meaning by around half at least), and a more peaceful world created.