The Reduction Of The U.S. Military Budget

"The Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, taken from an airplane in January 2008." Picture by David B. Gleason, Wikimedia Commons (CC_BY-SA_2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en
“The Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, taken from an airplane in January 2008.” Picture by David B. Gleason, Wikimedia Commons (CC_BY-SA_2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

In late February 2014, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that the Pentagon would reduce the size of the United States Army “to its smallest force since before the World War II buildup and eliminate an entire class of Air Force attack jets,” according to the New York Times. The current spending proposal, Pentagon officials say, seeks to “aggressively push the military off the war footing adopted after the terror attacks of 2001.” In other words, there will be a reduction of the military budget.

However, there are two areas given special attention: Special Operations forces and cyberwarfare. The latter point has been unmistakably underscored through the Snowden leaks since last summer. U.S. aircraft carriers will remain at 11.

As it seems, the future of war will continue to involve special forces, drones, and hacking, not the mass armies of World War Two.

But any reduction of the military budget will prompt those working in the interest of the military-industrial complex to cry wolf.

For instance, war criminal former Vice President Dick Cheney. In an interview with Fox News, Cheney claimed that the real reason President Barack Obama wanted to cut the defense budget was because “he would rather spend money on food stamps.”

Do you remember the phrase “food stamp president”? It was used by Newt Gingrich in 2012. Some explanations from the Christian Science Monitor, NPR, CNNMoney, and the Economist.

Here is a quick reminder about the U.S. military budget:

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS),

[t]he United States remained by far the world’s biggest defence spender in 2013, with a budget of $600.4 billion, [. . .] followed by China ($112.2 billion), Russia ($68.2 billion) and Saudi Arabia ($59.6 billion).

Infographic from the AFP (2014) (via Digital Journal)

Here is an older infographic from 2010 (via the Guardian)

If you look at the data, you cannot help but think that the notion that cutting back on the military budget to some extent would render the U.S. militarily incapable is pure propaganda. The magnitude by which U.S. military spending currently trumps all other states in the world is just so vast.

Finally, another point why it might be worth considering to reduce some military spending is that there is some serious waste going on in the Pentagon.

Read more:

President Obama and the defense budget: a factoid that falls short.” (, Washington Post, 2012/01/12)  – Comparing military spending is fuzzy, but nevertheless the U.S. leads, Glenn Kessler shows.

Does America Spend More Than Next 10 Nations Combined on Defense?” (James Joyner, Outside the Beltway, 2012/01/12) – Joyner comments on Kessler’s criticism and concludes that “[the U.S.] and our allies absolutely dwarf and potential foe in military power.”

 

 

 

Reuters: Pentagon Has “Lost” $8.5 Trillion Of Taxpayer Money Since 1996

Reuters: The Pentagon has “lost” $8.5 trillion of taxpayer money since 1996

"The Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, taken from an airplane in January 2008." Picture by David B. Gleason, Wikimedia Commons (CC_BY-SA_2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en
“The Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, taken from an airplane in January 2008.” Picture by David B. Gleason, Wikimedia Commons (CC_BY-SA_2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

An often-repeated mantra in American politics, mostly (but not exclusively) coming from Republicans, is that the U.S. government should stop “wasting” the hard-earned tax dollars of its citizens.

Usually the proposed solution in Washington then involves some cuts to social programs that disproportionately affect the poor and middle classes. Examples of this modus operandi are cuts to food stamp programs as earlier in 2013.

One department to spend it all

But there is one institution that, according to the mainstream consensus in both the GOP and the Democratic Party, can never have enough funding: the Department of Defense.

Despite the fact that the official military spending of the U.S. unmistakably dwarves that of all other potential rival nations, i.e. China and Russia, lobbyists from defense contractors and the politicians who cannot wait to enter the revolving door after retiring from politics would have the American public believe that unless military spending increases, or is at least kept at its current level, the terrorists and communists might invade Kansas next week.

Don’t audit me, bro!

According to an investigative report by Reuters, the Pentagon cannot account for $8.5 trillion in military spending since 1996. That money is gone and supposedly nobody knows where it went.

Just in case you wonder: In 1996, a law was passed by Congress to audit the Pentagon. But the Pentagon never complied.

Just let that sink in. It is not hundreds of thousand of dollars. It’s not millions of dollars. It’s $8.5 trillion!

My hunch is that if one were to look for “wasteful government bureaucracies,” the DoD would be an excellent place to start.

Read more:

[Video + Article] “Want to Cut Government Waste? Find the $8.5 Trillion the Pentagon Can’t Account For.” (Lauren, Lyster, Daily Ticker, Yahoo Finance, 2013/11/25)