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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/2/21

America's Exploding Defense Budget

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Message Jason Sibert

With our country leaving Afghanistan, and with the Joe Biden administration pursuing more limited foreign-policy goals, one would think we could move to a security structure based on realistic needs.

But if one looks at proposed military spending, that is not the case. Busy Americans probably don't know about the two votes - one in the Senate and one in the House that could pave the way for Congress to spend a whopping $1.2 trillion additional dollars on the military, above current projections, over the next decades, as stated by Andrew Lautz in his story "Lawmakers Pave the Way for $1.2 Trillion in New Military Spending in the Next 20 Years."

This is a nonpartisan move, as Democrats and Republicans joined hands to fatten up the defense bill by 3.5 percent, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) casting the lone dissenting vote. That increase was just endorsed by the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) on Wednesday. Lawmakers approved, again on a widespread and bipartisan basis, an amendment by the committee's ranking Republican, Mike Rogers of Alabama, to add $23.9 billion to the House version of the defense bill. Rogers proudly noted that his amendment would provide for a five-percent increase over the defense budget topline enacted in the previous fiscal year. And that's where the $1.2 trillion comes in.

Some in Congress have made no secret that they would like to see up to 5 percent growth in the defense budget each year. Rogers has said it, and his Senate counterpart, Jim Inhofe (R-OK), has also said it. Now, let's look at the impacts of a 5 percent annual boost to the defense budget. It would leave the U.S. with a whopping $1.2-trillion defense budget by the end of the decade, heading into fiscal year (FY) 2031! Congressmen and senators on the progressive side of the isle would like to spend more on the greenhouse effect and pandemic response. The one thing to remember, a $1.2-trillion-dollar defense budget without any corresponding offsets will be a tremendous cost to taxpayers!

The $3 billion in the Rogers amendment will go toward fulfilling 69 "wish list" requests from the service branches and combatant commands. Fiscal and military watchdogs have sharply criticized this practice, warning that lawmakers will abuse these annual "wish lists" and drum up the defense budget, which is exactly what the House and Senate committees have done.

How do we release our democratic republic from this type of thinking? We need to be realistic about security and realize that security is being defined by companies that benefit from connections to the military-industrial complex and not by current threats. The greenhouse effect, rogue states, authoritarian democracy, pandemics, failed states are not fought by a military designed to fight a ground war in the Soviet Union in Europe in the 1970s. In managing the state-based threats, rogue states, authoritarian democracy, and failed states, we must exhaust the diplomatic arm of our government (State Department) before considering force, and this means correctly funding the State Department!

Jason Sibert is the executive director of the Peace Economy Project.

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Jason Sibert worked for the Suburban Journals in the St. Louis area as a staff writer for a decade. His work has been published in a variety of publications since then and he is currently the executive director of the Peace Economy Project.
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