The Pentagon’s hunger for money seems to be insatiable. The Bush Administration has requested a whopping $439.3 billion to feed its appetite the next fiscal year, an increase of seven percent.
This is just the regular military budget. There will be an estimated $50 billion in supplemental spending for Iraq and Afghanistan. And then there’s the money proposed to be spent on nuclear weapons, $16 billion, which is separately tallied in the Department of Energy budget. This brings the total to at least $506 billion or so, provided the “supplemental” demand does not reach higher.
What is the reason for this unrestrained expenditure? To maintain U.S. global supremacy in the years to come. Don’t take my word for it. Read the primary military strategy document of the Bush Administration, made public in September 2002. “Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries for pursuing a military buildup in hopes of surpassing, or equaling the power of the United States,” states the National Security Strategy. No wonder The Washington Post said that the doctrine “gives the United States a nearly messianic role.”
It is determined to play this role, which provides an easy cover for advancing U.S. corporate interests.
Amazingly, U.S. military spending is now almost equal to that of the rest of the world combined!
“The major determinant of the world trend in military expenditure is the change in the USA, which makes up 47 per cent of the world total,” states the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a group that does invaluable work in tracking global military expenditures.
“US military expenditure has increased rapidly during the period 2002–2004 as a result of massive budgetary allocations for the ‘global war on terrorism’, primarily for military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
As the group points out, much of U.S. spending has been not as part of the regular military budget, but as supplemental spending requests.
“The supplementary appropriations for this purpose allocated to the Department of Defense for financial years 2003–2005 amounted to approximately $238 billion and exceeded the combined military spending of Africa, Latin America, Asia (except Japan but including China) and the Middle East in 2004 ($193 billion in current dollars), that is, of the entire developing world,” states SIPRI. “Thus, while regular military spending has also increased in the USA as well as in several other countries and regions, the main explanation for the current level of and trend in world military spending is the spending on military operations abroad by the USA, and to a lesser extent by its coalition partners.”
And Donald Rumsfeld had the gall last October to question China’s defense expenditure!
"I think it's interesting that other countries wonder why they China would be increasing their defense effort at the pace they are and yet not acknowledging it," Rumsfeld said. "It is almost as interesting as the fact that it is increasing at the pace it is.”
But the Pentagon’s own estimate shows that Chinese military spending to be $90 billion, a fraction of the U.S. budget. The Pentagon’s analysts seem as unfazed by this fact as Rumsfeld.
“Over the long term, says the Pentagon, if current trends persist, the Chinese military could pose a credible threat to other modern militaries operating in the region,” the BBC reports. “According to the BBC's Pentagon correspondent Adam Brookes, this is code for American forces in Asia.”
What will be the economic impact of this uncontrolled Pentagon spending? Certainly, there will be winners and losers. Defense companies are salivating at the prospect of fatter contracts, and defense stocks have moved up after the budget announcement.
But since all this spending has to come from budgetary resources made scarce from Bush’s tax cuts, there will, of course, be losers, too. A lot of them, actually—ranging from the needy abroad to Medicare recipients at home, as Jim Lobe documents in a piece for the Inter Press Service.
But, hey, what’s a bit of deprivation when the goal is global domination?