Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

America’s Military Budget Must Be Halved… AT LEAST

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, August 30, 2021

It is NOT an “unpatriotic” matter to assert, or claim, that America’s military budget is out of control. Numerous boondoggles over the past several years – most notably the F-35 program, now recognized as an untenably disastrous failure – have proven as much.

Former WWII Supreme Allied Commander, 5-star General, and 2-term Republican President, Dwight David Eisenhower, warned in his January 17, 1961 Farewell Address that,

“We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United State corporations.

“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence-economic, political, even spiritual-is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

“We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

• See: “The US Air Force Quietly Admits the F-35 Is a Failure“; By Joel Hruska, February 25, 2021 at 8:38 am
• See also: “The U.S. Air Force Just Admitted The F-35 Stealth Fighter Has Failed“; By David Axe, February 23, 2021, 08:00am EST
• See also: “What Went Wrong with the F-35, Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter?“; By Michael P. Hughes, Scientific American, The Conversation US, June 14, 2017
• See also: “This Country Is Spending $1.7 Trillion on Planes That Don’t Work“; By Charles P. Pierce, February 25, 2021
• See also: “F-35 Failure: The Air Force Wants a Different Replacement for Its Aging F-16 Jet Fighters“; By Mark Episkopos, February 25, 2021
• See also: “Israel Is Hiding That Its State-Of-Art F-35 Warplane Was Hit By Syrian S-200 Missile – Reports“; SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence, 2017-10-17T 09:56:39+00:00
• See also: “The F-35 tells everything that’s broken in the Pentagon“; By Dr. Sean McFate, PhD, 03/11/21 01:00 PM EST
• See also: “The sad saga of the F-35: Too big to fail, too expensive to fly“; By Jamie McIntyre, Senior Writer, March 18, 2021 11:00 PM

In conjunction with that measure, of slashing the budget for the Department of Defense, we must also require a period of national service from our young people – two, or three, years of mandatory service after high school graduation is NOT too much to expect from, or ask of them in return for the blessings of liberty for ourselves, and our posterity. Plus, it would make Congress and the President think long and hard – twice – before so freely sending their children into harm’s way.

The money saved should be redirected toward other, much more needful things at home, such as education, healthcare, infrastructure, and more. If we cannot, or refuse to take care of our own FIRST, how can we possibly be expected to care – in any way – for others? We are already exposed as hypocrites. How much more should we allow? How much more can we endure?

The United States presently spends 3.413% of its Gross Domestic Product on military expenditures, according to figures from the World Bank. While comparatively with other nations, it is not the greatest percentage of GDP, when compared to other nations’ military spending, it is MORE than the next 11 closest nations COMBINED, according to the Institute for Policy Studies, and their National Priorities Project.

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation has found similarly, and wrote “The United States spends more on national defense than China, India, Russia, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, Italy, and Australia — combined.” The MediaBiasFactCheck website writes this about the Peterson Foundation:

  • Overall, we rate the Peterson Foundation Least Biased based on the publication of low biased bipartisan analysis. We also rate them High for factual reporting due to proper sourcing and a clean fact check record.
  • The Peterson Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that is funded through donations. According to Open Secrets they generally fund both Democrats and Republicans. For example, in 2016 they contributed 50% to Republicans, 49% to Democrats, and 1% to others. However, in 2020 they contributed 85% to Democrats.

The Congressional Budget Office has an entire site dedicated to Defense spending.

On May 28, 2021, the DOD released a statement about their 2022 budget request through the Office of the President: “The Biden-Harris Administration today submitted to Congress the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Budget request of $752.9 billion for national defense, $715 billion of which is for the Department of Defense (DOD). The FY 2022 President’s Budget request of $715 billion when compared to the FY 2021 enacted amount of $703.7 billion, reflects a 1.6% increase.”

Defense One, a website dedicated to matters of U.S. defense and national security, published an item about the United States defense budget, January 26, 2020 by Patrick Collins, entitled Why Does the US Spend So Much on Defense? It is well to remember that the real bill includes not just DOD spending but VA, intelligence, and more. But those who would cut spending must also propose a new strategy.
It stated in part that, “America’s true total spending on national security in 2019, when including the DoD, VA, NNSA, and some portion of the IC’s non-military intelligence program, is probably between $902.2 and $962.4 billion. And yet this total does not include domestic security elements such as the Department of Homeland Security (2019: $72.3 billion) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

And finally, as an anecdotal observation, some years ago, a gentleman, who himself was an engineer employed by a defense contractor, once stated to me that, “Military spending is a middle-class welfare program.”

History Is Clear. America’s Military Is Way Too Big.

Guest Essay
by Dr. Jeremi Suri, PhD
August 30, 2021

Dr. Jeremi Suri, PhD, is the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, is the recent author of “The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Highest Office” and host of the podcast “This Is Democracy.”

For much of its history, the United States was a big country with a small peacetime military. World War II changed that permanently: American leaders decided that a country with new global obligations needed a very large peacetime military, including a nuclear arsenal and a worldwide network of bases. They hoped overwhelming military capacity would avert another world war, deter adversaries and encourage foreign countries to follow our wishes.

Yet this military dominance has hardly yielded the promised benefits. The collapse of the American-supported government in Afghanistan, after 20 years of effort and billions of dollars, is just the latest setback in a long narrative of failure.

The war in Afghanistan is much more than a failed intervention. It is stark evidence of how counterproductive global military dominance is to American interests. This military hegemony has brought more defeats than victories and undermined democratic values at home and abroad.

History is clear: We would be better off with more modest, restrained military and strategic goals. U.S. public opinion seems to have moved in this direction, too. Our country needs to re-examine the value of military dominance.

The reliance on military force has repeatedly entangled the United States in distant, costly, long conflicts with self-defeating consequences — in Vietnam, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and other places. American leaders have consistently assumed that military superiority will compensate for diplomatic and political limitations. Time and again, despite battlefield successes, our military has come up short in achieving stated goals.

In the Korean War, the overestimation of American military power convinced President Harry Truman to authorize the Army to cross into North Korea and approach the border of China. He hoped American soldiers could reunite the divided Korean Peninsula, but instead the incursion set off a wider war with China and a stalemated conflict. Now, after seven decades of American military deployments on the peninsula, the Communist regime in North Korea is as strong as ever, with a growing nuclear arsenal.

In Vietnam, the “best and brightest” experts around President Lyndon Johnson advised him that America’s overwhelming power would crush the insurgency and bolster anti-Communist defenses. The opposite was true. American military escalation increased the popularity of the insurgency while also creating greater South Vietnamese dependence on the United States. Following an offensive by North Vietnam in 1975, American-trained allies collapsed, much as they did in Afghanistan this week.

The fault lies not with the soldiers, but with the mission. Military forces are not a substitute for the hard work of building representative and effective institutions of governance. Stable societies need to have a foundation of peaceful forms of trade, education and citizen participation.

If anything, the record shows that a large military presence distorts political development, directing it toward combat and policing, not social development. American military occupations have worked best where the governing institutions preceded the arrival of foreign soldiers, as in Germany and Japan after World War II.

American leaders have depended on our armed forces so much because they are so vast and easy to deploy. This is the peril of creating such a large force: The annual budget for the U.S. military has grown to more than a gargantuan $700 billion, and we are more likely to use it, and less likely to build better substitutes.

This means that when nonmilitary overseas jobs like training local government administrators are required, the U.S. military steps in. Other agencies do not have the same capacity. We send soldiers where we need civilians because the soldiers get the resources. And that problem grows worse as the military uses its heft to lobby for yet more money from Congress.

At home, the growth of the armed forces means that American society has become more militarized. Police departments are now equipped with battlefield gear and military equipment, some of it surplus from the Army. Former soldiers have joined the violent extremist groups that have multiplied over the last decade. Less than 10% of Americans have served in the military, but 12% of those charged in the assault on the Capitol on January 6 had military experience.

Of course, the U.S. military is one of the most professional and patriotic parts of our society. Our uniformed leaders have consistently defended the rule of law, including against a president trying to undermine an election. The trouble stems from how bloated their organizations have become, and how often they are misused.

We must be honest about what the military cannot do. We should allocate our resources to other organizations and agencies that will actually make our country more resilient, prosperous and secure. We will benefit by returning to our history as a big country with a small peacetime military.

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