May 4, 2023
Honestly, it should take your breath away. We are on a planet prepping for further war in a staggering fashion. A watchdog group, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), just released its yearly report on global military spending. Given the war in Ukraine, you undoubtedly won't be surprised to learn that, in 2022, such spending in Western and Central Europe surpassed levels set as the Cold War ended in the last century. Still, it wasn't just Europe or Russia where military budgets leaped. They were rising rapidly in Asia as well (with significant jumps in Japan and India, as well as for the world's second-largest military spender, China). And that doesn't even include spiking military budgets in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere on this embattled planet. In fact, last year, 12 of the 15 largest military spenders topped their 2021 outlays.
None of that is good news. Still, it goes without saying that one country overshadowed all the rest -- and you know just which one I mean. At $877 billion last year (not including the funds "invested" in its intelligence agencies and what's still known as "the Department of Homeland Security"), the U.S. military budget once again left the others in the dust. Keep in mind that, according to SIPRI, Pentagon spending, heading for a trillion dollars in the near future, represented a staggering 39% of all (yes, all!) global military spending last year. That's more than the next 11 largest military budgets combined. (And that is up from nine not so long ago.) Keep in mind as well that, despite such funding, we're talking about a military, as I pointed out recently, which hasn't won a war of significance since 1945.
With that in mind, let Pentagon experts and TomDispatch regulars William Hartung and Ben Freeman explain how we've reached such a perilous point from the time in 1961 when a former five-star general, then president, warned his fellow citizens of the dangers of endlessly overfunding the -- a term he invented -- military-industrial complex. Now, let Hartung and Freeman explore how, more than six decades later, that very complex reigns supreme. Tom
Unwarranted Influence, Twenty-First-Century-Style
Not Your Grandfather’s Military-Industrial Complex
By William D. Hartung and Ben Freeman
The military-industrial complex (MIC) that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned Americans about more than 60 years ago is still alive and well. In fact, it's consuming many more tax dollars and feeding far larger weapons producers than when Ike raised the alarm about the “unwarranted influence” it wielded in his 1961 farewell address to the nation.
The statistics are stunning. This year’s proposed budget for the Pentagon and nuclear weapons work at the Department of Energy is $886 billion -- more than twice as much, adjusted for inflation, as at the time of Eisenhower’s speech. The Pentagon now consumes more than half the federal discretionary budget, leaving priorities like public health, environmental protection, job training, and education to compete for what remains. In 2020, Lockheed Martin received $75 billion in Pentagon contracts, more than the entire budget of the State Department and the Agency for International Development combined.
Click here to read more of this dispatch.
Hartung and Freeman, The Twenty-First Century of (Profitable) War
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