Why Is the Bloated U.S. Defense Budget Never on the Chopping Block?

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The debt limit crisis came and went with much unnecessary fanfare. The ultra-wealthy donors with combined billions invested in the stock market—the ones who own the leadership of both parties—were never going to permit the payments servicing the debt to stop. It would have been catastrophic for their bottom lines, just as it would for the overall economy.

It was all theatre, with the ancillary benefit of pushing through a few austerity measures for the poor.

If the governing class is so concerned about the debt, why is the bloated, nearly $900 billion military budget never on the chopping block?

Via Peter G. Peterson Foundation (emphasis added):

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The United States spends more on national defense than China, Russia, India, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Germany, France, South Korea, Japan, and Ukraine — combined…

Defense spending accounts for 12 percent of all federal spending and nearly half of discretionary spending. Total discretionary spending — for both defense and nondefense purposes — is typically only about one-third of the annual federal budget. It is currently below its historical average as a share of GDP and is projected to decline further.

No department in the U.S. federal administrative state is more ripe for pruning than the Defense Department. As I reported previously at PJ Media, the DoD has failed five consecutive audits with no repercussions of any kind for the bureaucrats flushing public money down the toilet. Yet the vast majority of members of Congress seen preening over the last few weeks about the debt and government waste have never even mentioned it.

Via Responsible Statecraft, Nov. 2022:

The news came as no surprise to Pentagon watchers. After all, the U.S. military has the distinction of being the only U.S. government agency to have never passed a comprehensive audit.

But what did raise some eyebrows was the fact that DoD made almost no progress in this year’s bookkeeping: Of the 27 areas investigated, only seven earned a clean bill of financial health.

Jon Stewart pressed a Pentagon spokeswoman on the matter, and in return received a word salad of bureaucratic gibberish.

But even if massive sums of taxpayer money funneled to the DoD weren’t wasted outright—as in, there is no accounting of where they went—they wouldn’t do very much good for legitimate U.S. national security interests anyway and, in fact, often have the opposite effect.

Since the end of WWII, the government has assumed the role of geopolitical policeman, the security arm of the neoliberal world order.

What good has it afforded the average American footing the bill?

The US government has over 800 military bases located in 70 countries throughout the world. It underwrites the security of East Asian “allies” (South Korea, Japan), European “allies” (NATO countries), and Middle Eastern “allies” (Saudi Arabia, Israel).

The most egregious American “ally,” Saudi Arabia, is, in addition to being an authoritarian theocracy that beheads political dissidents, the world’s pre-eminent exporter of Islamic terrorism. Yet the U.S. government acts as its guarantor of security against its regional foe, Iran.

This is an unpopular fact in certain political circles, but American meddling abroad on faraway continents where it shouldn’t be has engendered significant blowback. The most notable example in recent history is seen in Osama bin Laden and his fixation on the United States as his terror organization’s main geopolitical foe.

Via Council on Foreign Relations:

Antagonism toward the seemingly prolonged U.S. presence [in Saudi Arabia] fed resentment and anger toward the kingdom’s authoritarian government and fueled Islamic extremism. One of the chief grievances of Saudi-born Osama bin Laden was that “infidel” troops from the United States were present in Saudi Arabia, which contains Islam’s two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina.

This is not apologism for Sunni Islamic terror. It’s a statement of reality. Would 9/11 still have happened if the U.S. hadn’t been so militarily active in the region for so long? Perhaps, but perhaps not. War begets more war until it becomes endless.

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