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Posts Tagged ‘military spending’

U.S. Defense Budget May Bankrupt America

April 7th, 2009 Comments off
Robert Gates serves as the Secretary of Defense for President Obama, just as he did for President Bush. He has just unveiled the proposed U.S. defense expenditures for fiscal year 2009. Though in real terms the increase being proposed is modest compared to the annual expansions of the Bush years, the overall number is daunting. Gates is proposing that the United States spend $654 billion on its military in FY 09. This stratospheric expenditure is equivalent to the combined totals for the next 25 largest military budgets on the planet. Even more disconcerting, the planned military budget for the upcoming year represents a 72% increase from 2000, the year George W. Bush was elected president.
As is well recognized, this massive explosion in Pentagon spending was not due to any military conflict or arms race involving a major power. The primary justification is the threat posed by Al-Qaeda. There are also rationalizations regarding the need for missile defense to protect America from a possible Iranian threat, and especially peculiar, a long-term threat from China, a nation that has become the primary source of credit for the U.S. government. It is indeed awkward to justify China’s ambitions as a basis for the explosive growth of the U.S. defense budget, given that the Chinese treasury has become the banker of last resort for the Pentagon.
In reality, the only sustained threat to national security that would warrant an increase in the defense budget is that emanating from Al-Qaeda in the wake of 9/11. However, Al-Qaeda, notwithstanding its deadly intentions, is a non-state actor with a few thousand adherents scattered in different countries. Rather than a proportionate response to the quality and quantity of the actual threat posed by Al-Qaeda, what we have witnessed has been an explosive growth in military spending. Since this money did not grow the actual size of the U.S. armed forces in the period from 2000-2008, and the strength of some components actually shrank, as with the number of air force combat aircraft, it appears to have been infused into the military industrial complex in the perpetuation of costly research and development programs that have limited value towards enhancing national security.

At a time when the United States in sinking deeper in debt amid a devastating economic crisis, does a bloated military budget that requires Chinese loans to finance represent a true enhancement of U.S. national security? There should be much more serious and critical discussion involving the scope, size and vast increase in the outlays for military spending. Ultimately, it is America’s economic viability that is the bedrock of her national security. Appropriating funding for the Pentagon that exceeds the nation’s capacity or willingness to pay is not, in the long-term, a sound direction for safeguarding America’s security. To maintain the status quo is to proclaim that the United States can borrow money indefinitely from China, using those funds to pay for gold-plated military programs to protect us from that same creditor. It is also a path leading to national bankruptcy.

 

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Economic Crisis And Disintegration Of The American Empire

January 14th, 2009 Comments off
What we of this generation are witnessing is one of those rare epochal events that occur perhaps once in a millenium: the disintegration of an empire. The Global Economic Crisis will claim as its ultimate casualty the American Empire. How ironic that the neoconservative clique that advocated “American exceptionalism” based on wars of imperial expediency without end, financed by borrowing from foreign creditors, have ended up being the eventual gravediggers of the United States as the hyper-power of the planet.

For over a year, while the U.S. economy was mired in recession and exporting its economic disasters globally, the senior political and business leaders of the American establishment proclaimed to the American people that all was well, that the fundamentals of the economy were “strong,” while they threw taxpayers money at corporations and financial institutions “too big to fail” in a vain and desperate attempt to keep the floodtide of financial failure from inundating the whole economy. The collapse of Lehman Brothers exposed the fragility and rot for all to see and now the entire world is mired in a Global Economic Crisis that more and more economists are labeling as a second Great Depression.

While no one can predict with exactitude what the ultimate outcome will be after the world’s economies have completed their march through Calvary, it is likely that the denouement of this economic and financial apocalypse will see the end of American power as the hegemony-driven master of the planet.

America’s superiority was based on its military infrastructure, and the capability to project power thousands of miles from its shores, inflicting “shock and awe” on any foreign entity that inspired its ire. However, that military industrial complex required a massively productive and successful economy to maintain itself. During the last eight years, while America replaced its ability to create goods that the world needed with complex financial instruments and securitized mortgages as its primary export product, it relied on foreign creditors to subsidize the American military establishment and the cost of the foreign wars it was engaged in. That bubble is now in the process of bursting with tectonic force.

The U.S. government managed to double its national debt during the last 8 years, even before the onset of the Global Economic Crisis. Since then, the government has borrowed $700 billion for the TARP Wall Street Bailout, and is projecting a budget deficit of over one trillion dollars in 2009. That is before the Obama administration passes its own stimulus package after it takes office, possibly boosting the deficit to the stratospheric level of over two trillion dollars! With foreign countries America relies on to finance its deficit now about to embark on their own massive stimulus spending based on deficits, that source of credit will either dry up or become costly beyond tolerance. A few years more of multi-trillion dollar deficits and the single largest item in the federal budget will be the servicing of the national debt. When that happens, it will be fiscally impossible for the United States to maintain its current military outlay, which equals if not exceeds the rest of the world combined.

At present the U.S. pours roughly a trillion dollars into its military industrial complex. What must be understood about the U.S. defense budget is the depth of its deceptive architecture. While the official Pentagon budget is in the range of $600 billion, it excludes other expenditures scattered throughout the line items of the federal budget that properly belong under the category of military allocations. For example, the official defense budget excludes nearly two hundred billion dollars of unfunded (meaning borrowed) spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It excludes military benefits for veterans, intelligence gathering and other national security activity. Most deceptively excluded is most spending on nuclear weapons, measured in the tens of billions of dollars, which is clearly a military allocation, but is budgeted under the Department of Energy.

The smoke and mirrors is about to be shattered, as the Global Economic Crisis gathers momentum. The U.S. will lose its capacity to finance its military establishment, unless it replicates the example of the once-mighty Soviet Union, which placed its military first and civilian economy last, ultimately leading to the implosion of both.

We are truly witnessing a global economic trauma that will also radically reorder the geopolitical configuration of our planet. What is uncertain is if America will emerge as a constitutional, democratic republic at peace with the world, or as a desperate actor that will grasp at retaining its once invincible economic and military power no matter the cost to its future generations.