Why would anyone want to cut the U.S. military budget?
With $549 billion requested for basic military expenditures, and another $159 billion requested for U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—the record $708 billion military spending called for by the Obama administration for fiscal 2011 will be nearly equivalent to the military spending of all other nations in the world combined.
And when it comes to military appropriations, the U.S. government already spends about seven times as much as China, thirteen times as much as Russia, and seventy-three times as much as Iran.
Is this really necessary? During the Cold War, the United States confronted far more dangerous and numerous military adversaries, including the Soviet Union. In those years, U.S. military spending accounted for only 26 percent of the world total.
Where does this vast outlay of U.S. tax dollars—the greatest military appropriations in U.S. history—go? One place is to overseas U.S. military bases, …. as much as $250 billion per year is used to maintain some 865 U.S. military facilities in more than forty countries and overseas U.S. territories.
The money also goes to fund vast legions of private military contractors. The Defense Department relies on 766,000 contractors at an annual cost of about $155 billion, and this figure does not include private intelligence organizations. A Washington Post study, which included all categories, estimated that the Defense Department employs 1.2 million private contractors.
Furthermore, Americans should not forget the enormous price the United States has paid for its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the highly-respected National Priorities Project, their cost, so far, amounts to $1.06 trillion. (For those readers who are unaccustomed to dealing with a trillion dollar budget, that’s $1,060,000,000,000.)
Lastly, how many times have government officials told us that there is not enough money available for health care, for schools, for parks, for the arts, for public broadcasting, for unemployment insurance, for law enforcement, and for maintenance of America’s highway, bridge, and rail infrastructure?