September 3, 2021

US Has Spent $21,000,000,000,000 On War & Militarism Since 9/11 –
And Biden's Proposed Pentagon Budget For 2022 Is $750+ Billion

In the 20 years since the September 11 attacks, the United States government has spent wasted more than $21 trillion on war and militarism.

How much is $21,000,000,000,000?

If you laid that amount in $1,000 bills end-to-end, the line would stretch more than two million miles (2,035,037 actually).

That's more than 84 trips around the Earth at the equator.

If you had $21 trillion, you could spend one million dollars every day and not run out of money for 57,534 years.

To waste that much money (and kill or irrevocably damage or disable tens of millions of innocent people) is an unfathomable crime against humanity.

And yet . . . Joe Biden has requested a military budget for 2022 of $753 billion, and a House of Representatives panel yesterday approved a $37.5 billion increase to that figure (14 Democrats voted Yes). You don't dedicate that kind of money to the Dept. of Defense [sic] if you don't expect them to use it. There will have to be a lot more war in order to "get rid" of that money in only 12 months.

In 2020, the United States spent $778 billion on its military, more than any other nation, indeed more than the next 11 countries combined. The US accounts for 39% of the world's total military spending.

State of Insecurity: The Cost of Militarization Since 9/11 (pdf), a report released yesterday by the National Priorities Project:

Twenty years ago, we were promised a vision of the War on Terror that did not come to pass: that Afghanistan would not become a quagmire, or that the Iraq War would be over in "five weeks or five days or five months" and cost a mere $60 billion. As the country went to war and refocused domestic security spending on terrorism, few had any inkling of the far-reaching ramifications for the military, veterans, immigration, or domestic law enforcement. . . .

There is evidence that the War on Terror drove transfers of military equipment to police, as surges ended and the Pentagon looked to divest from surplus equipment. Transfers in 2010, when the military was still deeply engaged in the War on Terror, totaled $30 million. Over the next few years, the U.S. pulled forces out of Iraq, and military equipment transfers skyrocketed, peaking at $386 million in 2014. Today, transfers are still far higher than they were early in the War on Terror, totaling $152 million in 2020 and $101 million in just the first half of 2021.

So that military equipment is being used to fight "them" over there and fight "them" over here. (Again, if you give police departments weapons of war, they will use them. Thus, the US continues to devolve into a more militarized nation; one example of that ever-increasing violence against its own citizens is the crackdowns on dissent. (Biden deserves some blame for that, as well.)

Lindsay Koshgarian, program director of NPP and lead author of the report, said in a statement that "our $21 trillion investment in militarism has cost far more than dollars":

It has cost the lives of civilians and troops lost in war, and the lives ended or torn apart by our brutal and punitive immigration, policing, and mass incarceration systems. Meanwhile, we've neglected so much of what we really need. Militarism hasn't protected us from a pandemic that at its worst took the toll of a 9/11 every day, from poverty and instability driven by staggering inequality, or from hurricanes and wildfires made worse by climate change. . . .

The end of the war in Afghanistan represents a chance to reinvest in our real needs. Twenty years from now, we could live in a world made safer by investments in infrastructure, job creation, support for families, public health, and new energy systems, if we are willing to take a hard look at our priorities.

The report demonstrates it would have cost far less than $21 trillion for the U.S. to make major investments in climate action and infrastructure. As Jake Johnson of Common Dreams lays out:

  • $4.5 trillion could fully decarbonize the U.S. electric grid;

  • $2.3 trillion could create five million $15-per-hour jobs with benefits and cost-of-living adjustments for 10 years;

  • $1.7 trillion could erase student debt;

  • $449 billion could continue the extended Child Tax Credit for another 10 years;

  • $200 billion could guarantee free preschool for every 3-and-4-year old for 10 years, and raise teacher pay; and

  • $25 billion could provide Covid vaccines for the population of low-income countries.

Even with the grotesque charade of the US ending its involvement in Afghanistan – as Joe Biden made clear in his announcement of the withdrawal, he reserves the right to bomb the fuck out of the country (mostly probably by drones) in the future for any goddamn reason he chooses or for no reason at all - there is zero danger of the US suffering any withdrawal from addiction to war.

As mentioned, Biden's proposed military budget is $753 billion, which was increased by a House panel. Fourteen Democrats (only 14?) voted for the $37.5 billion boost.

Erica Fein, Win Without War's senior Washington director said:

Every congressperson who voted for this should be ashamed. . . . Right now, people around the country are struggling to survive in the middle of a pandemic that has already taken the lives of millions. Right now, families are being thrown out of their homes because they can't afford rent. Right now, lives are being upturned in Louisiana, California, Tennessee, and beyond by the devastating effects of climate change.

In the midst of all of this, HASC chose to spend tens of billions of dollars inflating the already bloated Pentagon budget and lining the pockets of wealthy arms-makers at the expense of working families. It is astonishing that now, of all times, when we should be continuing to end our endless wars, HASC is doubling down on the same approach to national security we've seen fail for decades.

Carley Towne, national co-director of CodePink, an anti-militarism group working for peace and social justice, stated:

A day after the United States withdrew from one of the most costly wars in history, the absolute LAST thing congressional representatives should be doing is increasing the Pentagon budget. Add to that the fact that we're facing Covid, an ongoing climate catastrophe, and a struggling economy and it's clearer than ever that we cannot allow our representatives to continue this costly and destructive forever war paradigm. We need to slash the Pentagon budget and invest in what will truly make us safe: healthcare, a Green New Deal, and public housing.

William Hartung, director of Arms & Security Program at the Center for International Policy, stated:

Biden's proposed Pentagon budget was already at near-record levels . . . [I]t is irresponsible to throw more money at the Pentagon at a time when the greatest risks to our security are not military in nature. . .  If we're concerned about making America and the world safer, we should be investing more funds in addressing pandemics, climate change, and racial and economic injustice—not buying weapons we don't need at prices we can't afford.

Joseph Cirincione, a distinguished fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, blasted the move as "outrageous" and "strategically bankrupt":

In a time of climate crisis, a raging pandemic, rampant racial injustice, and growing income inequity, Congress votes to increase the size of the trough for the arms dealers who fund their campaigns.

No comments: