Sunday, May 13, 2012
The Military Industrial Complex; and the sheer size of the military.
From Wikipedia: Military budget and total US federal spending "World War II commenced a new era of permanency in the United States defense budget. With the advent of the Cold War, the United States began to maintain a standing army and a permanent state of readiness for war that permanently elevated national defense expenditures. At the conclusion of his second term, President Eisenhower, wrote: "Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea. Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations. This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together." Long an admirer of President Eisenhower, Kenneth Stepp agrees with President Eisenhower that "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex." Fiscal Year 2010 U.S. Federal Spending – Cash or Budget Basis The U.S. Department of Defense budget accounted in fiscal year 2010 for about 19% of the United States federal budgeted expenditures and 28% of estimated tax revenues. Including non-DOD expenditures, defense spending was approximately 28–38% of budgeted expenditures and 42–57% of estimated tax revenues. According to the Congressional Budget Office, defense spending grew 9% annually on average from fiscal year 2000–2009. Because of constitutional limitations, military funding is appropriated in a discretionary spending account. (Such accounts permit government planners to have more flexibility to change spending each year, as opposed to mandatory spending accounts that mandate spending on programs in accordance with the law, outside of the budgetary process.) In recent years, discretionary spending as a whole has amounted to about one-third of total federal outlays. Department of Defense spending's share of discretionary spending was 50.5% in 2003, and has risen to between 53% and 54% in recent years. For FY 2010, Department of Defense spending amounts to 4.7% of GDP. Because the U.S. GDP has risen over time, the military budget can rise in absolute terms while shrinking as a percentage of the GDP. For example, the Department of Defense budget is slated to be $664 billion in 2010 (including the cost of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan previously funded through supplementary budget legislation), higher than at any other point in American history, but still 1.1–1.4% lower as a percentage of GDP than the amount spent on defense during the peak of Cold-War military spending in the late 1980s. Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called four percent an "absolute floor". This calculation does not take into account some other defense-related non-DOD spending, such as Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, and interest paid on debt incurred in past wars, which has increased even as a percentage of the national GDP. Comparison with other countries Military spending as a percentage of GDP The 2009 U.S. military budget accounts for approximately 40% of global arms spending. The 2012 budget is 3-4 times larger than the 240 billions of the military budget of China, and is more than the next twenty largest military spenders combined. The United States and its close allies are responsible for two-thirds to three-quarters of the world's military spending (of which, in turn, the U.S. is responsible for the majority). In 2005, the United States spent 4.06% of its GDP on its military (considering only basic Department of Defense budget spending), more than France's 2.6% and less than Saudi Arabia's 10%.information 2006. This is historically low for the United States since it peaked in 1944 at 37.8% of GDP (it reached the lowest point of 3.0% in 1999–2001). Even during the peak of the Vietnam War the percentage reached a high of 9.4% in 1968. Countries like Canada and Germany spend only 1.4% of GDP on their military. The Congress should have hearings to determine the level of threat to us. We should try and have SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) with Communist China, and see if we can reach some mutually agreed arms limitations with verification and with inspections. SALT talks worked in reducing mutual military spending with the Soviet Union in the 1970's, and it would work to reduce mutual military spending with Communist China in the 2010's. Although I abhor communism, Communist China and the United States have a community of interest in preventing an arms race, and in preventing or reducing the likelihood of a war caused by accident. Most of the next ten military powers after Communist China are friendly with the United States, and not a threat. Kenneth Stepp.