Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

America’s $1.4 Trillion So-Called “National Security” Budget Makes Us Less Safe—Not More

America and the world would be far safer places if this outrageous spending was drastically cut and those funds redirected to “moral” investments in people, society, and planetary health—not war and weapons.

Common Dreams WILLIAM HARTUNG, July 7, 2022 by TomDispatch

This March, when the Biden administration presented a staggering $813 billion proposal for “national defense,” it was hard to imagine a budget that could go significantly higher or be more generous to the denizens of the military-industrial complex. After all, that request represented far more than peak spending in the Korean or Vietnam War years, and well over $100 billion more than at the height of the Cold War. 

It was, in fact, an astonishing figure by any measure — more than two-and-a-half times what China spends; more, in fact, than (and hold your hats for this one!) the national security budgets of the next nine countries, including China and Russia, combined. And yet the weapons industry and hawks in Congress are now demanding that even more be spent. 

In recent National Defense Authorization Act proposals, which always set a marker for what Congress is willing to fork over to the Pentagon, the Senate and House Armed Services Committees both voted to increase the 2023 budget yet again — by $45 billion in the case of the Senate and $37 billion for the House. The final figure won’t be determined until later this year, but Congress is likely to add tens of billions of dollars more than even the Biden administration wanted to what will most likely be a record for the Pentagon’s already bloated budget.

This lust for yet more weapons spending is especially misguided at a time when a never-ending pandemic, growing heat waves and other depredations of climate change, and racial and economic injustice are devastating the lives of millions of Americans.  Make no mistake about it: the greatest risks to our safety and our future are non-military in nature, with the exception, of course, of the threat of nuclear war, which could increase if the current budget goes through as planned.

But as TomDispatch readers know, the Pentagon is just one element in an ever more costly American national security state.  Adding other military, intelligence, and internal-security expenditures to the Pentagon’s budget brings the total upcoming “national security” budget to a mind-boggling $1.4 trillion. And note that, in June 2021, the last time my colleague Mandy Smithberger and I added up such costs to the taxpayer, that figure was almost $1.3 trillion, so the trend is obvious.

To understand how these vast sums are spent year after year, let’s take a quick tour of America’s national security budget, top to bottom.

The Pentagon’s proposed “base” budget, which includes all of its routine expenses from personnel to weapons to the costs of operating and maintaining a 1.3 million member military force, came in at $773 billion for 2023, more than $30 billion above that of 2022. Such an increase alone is three times the discretionary budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and more than three times the total allocation for the Environmental Protection Agency. 

In all, the Pentagon consumes nearly half of the discretionary budget of the whole federal government, a figure that’s come down slightly in recent years thanks to the Biden administration’s increased investment in civilian activities. That still means, however, that almost anything the government wants to do other than preparing for or waging war involves a scramble for funding, while the Department of Defense gets virtually unlimited financial support.

And keep in mind that the proposed Biden increase in Pentagon spending comes despite the ending of 20 years of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, a move that should have meant significant reductions in the department’s budget.  Perhaps you won’t be surprised to learn, however, that, in the wake of the Afghan disaster, the military establishment and hawks in Congress quickly shifted gears to touting — and exaggerating — challenges posed by ChinaRussia, and inflation as reasons for absorbing the potential savings from the Afghan War and pressing the Pentagon budget ever higher.

It’s worth looking at what America stands to receive for its $773 billion — or about $2,000 per taxpayer, according to an analysis by the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. More than half of that amount goes to giant weapons contractors like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, along with thousands of smaller arms-making firms.

The most concerning part of the new budget proposal, however, may be the administration’s support for a three-decades long, $1.7-trillion plan to build a new generation of nuclear-armed missiles (as well, of course, as new warheads to go with them), bombers, and submarines. As the organization Global Zero has pointed out, the United States could dissuade any country from launching an atomic attack against it with far fewer weapons than are contained in its current nuclear arsenal.  There’s simply no need for a costly — and risky — nuclear weapons “modernization” plan. Sadly, it’s guaranteed to help fuel a continuing global nuclear arms race, while entrenching nuclear weapons as a mainstay of national security policy for decades to come. (Wouldn’t those decades be so much better spent working to eliminate nuclear weapons altogether?) 

The riskiest weapon in that nuclear plan is a new land-based, intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).  As former Secretary of Defense William Perry once explained, ICBMs are among “the most dangerous weapons in the world” because a president warned of a nuclear attack would have only a matter of minutes to decide whether to launch them, increasing the risk of an accidental nuclear war based on a false alarm. Not only is a new ICBM unnecessary, but the existing ones should be retired as well, as a way of reducing the potential for a world-ending nuclear conflagration……………………..

The Nuclear Budget

The average taxpayer no doubt assumes that a government agency called the Department of Energy (DOE) would be primarily concerned with developing new sources of energy, including ones that would reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels to help rein in the ravages of climate change.  Unfortunately, that assumption couldn’t be less true.

Instead of spending the bulk of its time and money on energy research and development, more than 40% of the Department of Energy’s budget for 2023 is slated to support the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which manages the country’s nuclear weapons program, principally by maintaining and developing nuclear warheads.  Work on other military activities like reactors for nuclear submarines pushes the defense share of the DOE budget even higher. The NNSA spreads its work across the country, with major locations in California, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Its proposed 2023 budget for nuclear-weapons activities is $16.5 billion, part of a budget for defense-related projects of $29.8 billion……………………………

Our Misguided Security Budget

Spending $1.4 trillion to address a narrowly defined concept of national security should be considered budgetary malpractice on a scale so grand as to be almost unimaginable — especially at a time when the greatest risks to the safety of Americans and the rest of the world are not military in nature. After all, the Covid pandemic has already taken the lives of more than one million Americans, while the fires, floods, and heat waves caused by climate change have impacted tens of millions more. 

Yet the administration’s proposed allocation of $45 billion to address climate change in the 2023 budget would be less than 6% of the Pentagon’s proposed budget of $773 billion………………………………..  https://www.commondreams.org/views/2022/07/07/americas-14-trillion-so-called-national-security-budget-makes-us-less-safe-not-more

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July 9, 2022 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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