It's time for our annual game: How much is really in the U.S. military budget?
As usual, it's about $200 billion more than most news stories are reporting. For the proposed fiscal year 2009 budget, which President Bush released today, the real size is not, as many news stories have reported, $515.4 billion—itself a staggering sum—but, rather, $713.1 billion…
…It is (adjusting for inflation) larger than any U.S. military budget since World War II.
It’s astonishing, isn’t it?
In 1952, the United States had 180,000 American soldiers and Marines fighting in Korea, against like a million Chinese. We had the entire 7th Fleet plus a bunch of other ships in constant combat. We had air forces in Japan and Korea flying day and night. And, to top it off, we had about 300,000 Americans in Europe to keep the Red Army in check.
The defense budget in 1952, adjusted for inflation?
About $500 billion.
In 1968, with 500,000 Americans serving in Vietnam. 300,000 still in Europe. SAC flying twenty four hours a day, ready and just aching to drop the Big One.
The defense budget in 1968. adjusted for inflation?
About $450 billion.
Today, with 130,000 troops in Iraq and another—what?—10,000 in Afghanistan and about seventy thousand in Europe and our defense budget is seven hundred and thirteen billion dollars?
Where in the great big Red, White and Blue fuck is the other two hundred billion dollars going???
We’re spending at least two hundred billion dollars more than we spent during the hottest years of Korea and Vietnam because 19 fucking lunatics, whose last known addresses were caves, hijacked a couple of planes???
Are you shitting me???
Christ Almighty, we could do what the Saudis do and just pay bin Laden directly a couple hundred million a year to not attack the United States and we’d save two hundred billion dollars.
And if that encouraged every single homicidal maniac in the world to also come calling with their hands out, we could pay all of them too and still save one hundred and ninety nine billion dollars.
What is the sense of this War On Terrorism???
I mean, honestly, for two hundred billion dollars a year, we could just cut each and every Palestinian—all nine million of them--a check for $20,000 a year. I don’t think that’s a great idea, but I bet it would do a hell of a lot more to prevent mid-eastern terrorists from attacking the United States. And zero Americans would come home in body bags or wheel chairs or back braces with screws in their foreheads.
But then again, getting value for your tax payer dollar is something fiscally conservative, Republicans can’t even begin to understand.
That’s why most of them still think that lowering something like 40 million Americans’ tax payments by an “average” of $1500 a year, while doubling the national debt was a tax cut.
But even worse than the multibillion dollar rip off is the inescapable rip off that’s coming, but most of us don’t even know it yet:
("National Defense," by the way, does not include programs in the Department of Homeland Security; that's another story.)
Why is this so bad? Because Homeland Security will be just like the Department of Defense when it comes to handing out dollar bills. And how are dollar bills handed out to the Department of Defense now?
Congress exposes this budget to virtually no scrutiny, fearing that any major cuts—any serious questions—will incite charges of being "soft on terror" and "soft on defense." But $536 billion of this budget—the Pentagon's base line plus the discretionary items for the Department of Energy and other agencies—has nothing to do with the war on terror. And it's safe to assume that a fair amount has little to do with defense. How much it does and doesn't is a matter of debate. Right now, nobody's even debating.
We could probably have a bigger, meaner, more effective military machine for half of what we pay every year for our bloated defense budget.
The Pentagon is and has been for at least fifty years the world’s biggest shopping bazarr. And it’s a monstrously corrupt, almost comically inefficient machine—for just a taste, I’d highly recommend reading this book, Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed The Art Of War.
(And we can thank our lasting monumental military waste on the Sainted Ronny Rotten and his Reagan Republicans, who, just at the moment the Church Committee and the Military Reform Caucus, and the Pentagon reformers were gaining a bit of traction, spent the next eight years hysterically citing Team B reports and throwing billions of unnecessary dollars at totally inexistent threats. Our military has never recovered. It probably never will.)
And it’s political suicide for any Congress man or woman to object to anything the Department of Defense wants. Beyond that, it may even be political suicide for a politician to agree to what the Department of Defense wants—you all remember the Bush/Cheney ’04 ads accusing John Kerry of depriving the military of the Abrams tanks and Apache helicopters and F-16s it needed to combat the terrorism of men with plane tickets and plastic knives?
Oh, on September 11th, if only we had had more tanks flying from Boston to California!
That aside, Kerry voted for Defense cuts proposed by Dick Cheney! And he still got murdered for it! By Dick Cheney!
And now we have a second Department of Defense—the Department of Homeland Security. Which was appallingly stupid and unnecessary from its retarded inception in dumbass Joe Lieberman’s war fevered little brain.
In like seven years, I think the only thing I ever agreed with Bush about was how we did not need a creepy, Orwellian sounding Department of Homeland Security. It didn't eliminate any government agencies. It just added one more level to them. And nothing ever gets more efficient by adding a gigantic whole new level of administrators.
Seriously, I was a big Bush backer on his one good decision, in seven years, to oppose that stupid thing.
But, then, Bush, , waffling, irresolute flip flopper that he was, caved because of politics—because stupid ass Joe Lieberman had the votes—and created a bigger monster than even Lieberman had envisioned in his wildest, stupidest, twisted little bobble-headed retarded garden gnomed dreams.
And, gee, guess what? Though, the Department of Homeland Security now gets a relatively small amount of our federal budget. It won’t be long before it gets bigger and bigger and bigger.
And it will face less and less scrutiny, as more and more Congress men and women become afraid of being called “weak on Homeland Security”. And more corporate Congressional lobbyists and donors, seek out those lucrative gubment Homeland Security contracts.
And soon, there won’t be any debate or scrutiny, or competitive bids on our brand new $700 billion Homeland Security budget.
And we’ll all get used to that.
Just like we’re used to spending outrageous and totally unjustified money for defense.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said recently that, quite apart from the wars, the nation should get used to spending 4 percent of its gross domestic product on defense. This isn't an unreasonable sum in terms of what the nation can afford. But the same could be said of many other functions of government. It has very little to do with what the nation needs. The $515.4 billion in the base line Defense Department budget amounts to 3.4 percent of GNP. Is that not enough? Should we throw in another $85 billion to boost it to 4 percent? The relevant question, in any case, should be not how much we spend, but what we buy.
Until the modern Gee Oh Pee hollows this country out like a gourd and totally bankrupts us, we will not have any intelligent discussion, with regard to defense or Homeland Security, about what we need.
If I believed in irony, I'd say it's ironic. The people who shout and scream the loudest about a strong military will, in the end, be the very people who wreck our American military.
Because when we finally do start talking about what we need, we’ll be so busted out and in debt, and hated and broke, we won’t have the money to pay for it.