War is America's main export. Without it, the USA is nothing. It's economy depends on it.
Let's take a look at the tip of a very deep iceberg.
For example the US spending on its military in the year 2012 was the colossal amount of $684 billion. To get a perspective of just how high this spending is, this figure is less than what all the rest of the next 10 "military high spenders" countries of the world spent on defense put together. China, Russia, UK, Japan, France, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, Italy and Brazil together spent $654 billion on their military in the same period.
The US already spends 40% of the entire world's budget on military expenses. This is actually a much reduced figure since during this time the US reduced its military commitment in Iraq and Afghanistan, the two wars which have been estimated to have cost the US anything between $4 trillion and $6 trillion. Thus the $684 billion represents a reduction from a wartime budget and a return to a peacetime budget!
When looked at in comparison to the rest of what the US government spent on other items, the military budget was second only to the amount spent on Social Welfare. The military expenditure is in fact much higher than Medicare ($529 billion) and Medicaid ($331 billion). When compared with other sectors this comparison looks even more ridiculous when one look at what the US spent on other sectors: Health and Human Services ($73.1 billion), Education ($68.6 billion) and Housing and Urban Development ($32.6 billion). The baffling thing about all this is that the American public appears to blissfully unaware of how ridiculous these priorities appear to be -- or they approve of them.
The picture is made even bleaker by the fact that the military spending is not the total amount the US spends on its defense. When you add the other costs associated with defense such as the cost of Homeland security, veterans' affairs' expenses and overseas military aid, the total defense expenditure is almost $1 trillion. It is estimated that what the US spends on its military in a week would be enough to wipe out hunger from the world.
Nowhere is the military expenditure more wasteful and obscene as in the development of drones and other futuristic military equipment. The US military has been developing a new F-35 Fighter Jet since the 1990s at a cost that is so far in excess of $1 trillion, yet the plane is still not operational yet. The US military is expected to acquire 2,443 of these fighter planes at a unit cost of $159 million. Given the maintenance and running costs of these aircraft, the lifetime cost of each of these aircraft is likely to be in excess of $600 million. It is these sorts of costs that show where the US Government priorities lie.
When it comes to military assistance to other countries the story is no different. The biggest recipient of military assistance from the US is a country that has a higher GDP than most of the European countries and which has become a major military threat and cause of disruption of the Middle East peace process for decades now -- Israel. US military assistance to Israel over the years has been estimated at over $120 billion. The US funds up to 25% of the Israeli military expenditure -- and it keeps increasing. The US continues to provide upwards of $10 billion annually in military assistance to Israel to protect its "strategic interests".
Mick Meaney is the editor of RINF Alternative News.