New Record for Military Spending
On April 17, 2012, as millions of Americans were filing their income tax returns, the highly-respected Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released its latest study of world military spending. In case Americans were wondering where most of their tax money — and the tax money of other nations — went in the previous year, the answer from SIPRI was clear: to war and preparations for war.
World military spending reached a record $1,738 billion in 2011 — an increase of $138 billion over the previous year. The United States accounted for 41 percent of that, or $711 billion.
Why are military expenditures continuing to increase — indeed, why aren’t they substantially decreasing — given the governmental austerity measures of recent years? Amid the economic crisis that began in late 2008 (and which continues to the present day), most governments have been cutting back their spending dramatically on education, health care, housing, parks, and other vital social services. However, there have not been corresponding cuts in their military budgets.
In the United States, an estimated 58 percent of the U.S. government’s discretionary tax dollars go to war and preparations for war.
“Almost every country with a military is on an insane path, spending more and more on missiles, aircraft, and guns,” remarked John Feffer, co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus. “These countries should be confronting the real threats of climate change, hunger, disease, and oppression, not wasting taxpayers’ money on their military.”
[Excerpt of CounterPunch article by Lawrence S. Wittner, professor of history emeritus]