Reprinted from Strategic Culture
The monstrous US military budget is a classic illustration of the proverb about not seeing the wood for the trees. It is such an overwhelming outgrowth, all too often it is misperceived.
In recent years, Washington's military expenditure averages around $600 billion a year. That's over half of the total discretionary spending by the US government, exceeding budgets for education, health and social security. It's well over a third of the total world military annual spend of $1.7 trillion.
The incipient military-industrial complex that President Dwight Eisenhower warned of in his farewell speech in 1961 has indeed become a central, defining feature of American society and economy. To talk of American free-market capitalism is a staggering oxymoron when so much of the country's economy is wholly dependent on government-funded militarism.
Or put it another way: if the US military budget were somehow drastically reduced in line with other nations, the all-powerful military-industrial complex and the American state as we know it would collapse. No doubt something better would evolve in time, but the impact on established power interests would be calamitous and therefore is trenchantly resisted.
This is the context for the escalation in Cold War tensions with Russia this week, with the deployment of the US missile system in Romania. The $800 million so-called missile shield is set to expand to Poland over the next two years and eventually will cover all of Europe from Greenland to southern Spain.
Washington and NATO officials maintain that the Aegis anti-missile network is not targeted at Russia. Unconvincingly, the US-led military alliance claims that the system is to defend against Iranian ballistic missiles or from other unspecified rogue states . Given that Europe is well beyond the range of any Iranian ballistic capability and in light of the international nuclear accord signed last year between Tehran and the P5+1 powers, the rationale of defense against Iranian rockets beggars belief.
The Russian government is not buying American and NATO denials that the new missile system is not directed at Russia. The Kremlin reproached the latest deployment as a threat to its security, adding that it would be taking appropriate counter-measures to restore the strategic nuclear balance. That's because the US Aegis system can be reasonably construed as giving NATO forces a first-strike option against Russia.
A couple of things need to be clarified before addressing the main point here. First, European states are chasing Iranian business investments and markets following the breakthrough P5+1 accord signed last July. Germany, France, Italy, Britain and Austria are among the Europeans who have been vying to tap Iran's huge economic potential. The notion that Iran is harboring a military threat to such prospective partners is ludicrous, as Russian officials have pointed out.
Secondly, the US protestations of innocent intentions towards Russia are a contemptible insult to common sense. They contradict countless statements by Washington, including President Obama and his Pentagon top brass, which have nominated Russia as an aggressive threat to Europe. Washington is quadrupling its military spending in Europe, increasing its troops, tanks, fighter jets, warships and war exercises on Russia's borders on the explicit basis of deterring Russian aggression.
In other words, Russia is viewed as a top global enemy -- an existential threat -- according to Washington. So, the deployment of the US Aegis missile system this week in Eastern Europe is fully consistent with Washington's bellicose policies towards Russia. It would thus be irrational and foolishly naive to somehow conclude otherwise, that the US and its NATO allies are not on an offensive march towards Russia.
The depiction of Russia as a global security threat is of course absurd. We can also include similar US claims against China, Iran and North Korea. All such US-designated enemies are wildly overblown.
Western claims -- amplified relentlessly in the Western news media -- of Russia annexing Crimea and invading eastern Ukraine can be easily contested with facts and indeed counterpoised more accurately as belying Washington's covert regime change in Kiev.
Nevertheless, Western fear-mongering supported by unremitting media propaganda has to a degree succeeded in conflating these dubious claims into a bigger specter of Russia menacing all of Europe with hybrid warfare. It is, to be sure, a preposterous scare story of a Russian bogeyman which has racist undertones and antecedents in Nazi ideology of demonizing Slavic barbarians.
But this demonizing of Russia, as with other global enemies, is a necessary prop for the American military-industrial complex and its essential functioning for the US economy.
The $600 billion-a-year military spend by Washington is roughly tenfold what Russia spends. And yet, inverting reality, Russia is presented as the threat!