By David Swanson, World BEYOND War, April 11, 2023
The New York Times routinely tells bigger lies than the clumsy nonsense it published about weapons in Iraq. Here’s an example. This package of lies is called “Liberals Have a Blind Spot on Defense” but mentions nothing related to defense. It simply pretends that militarism is defensive by applying that word and by lying that “we face simultaneous and growing military threats from Russia and China.” Seriously? Where?
The U.S. military budget is more than those of most nations of the world combined. Only 29 nations, out of some 200 on Earth, spend even 1 percent what the U.S. does. Of those 29, a full 26 are U.S. weapons customers. Many of those receive free U.S. weapons and/or training and/or have U.S. bases in their countries. Only one non-ally, non-weapons customer (albeit a collaborator in bioweapons research labs) spends over 10% what the U.S. does, namely China, which was at 37% of U.S. spending in 2021 and likely about the same now despite the highly horrifying increases widely reported in the U.S. media and on the floor of Congress. (That’s not considering weapons for Ukraine and various other U.S. expenses.) While the U.S. has planted military bases around Russia and China, neither has a military base anywhere near the United States, and neither has threatened the United States.
Now, if you don’t want to fill the globe with U.S. weaponry and provoke Russia and China on their borders, the New York Times has some additional lies for you: “Defense spending is about as pure an application of a domestic industrial policy — with thousands of good-paying, high-skilled manufacturing jobs — as any other high-tech sector.”
No, it is not. Just about any other way of spending public dollars, or even not taxing them in the first place, produces more and better jobs.
Here’s a doozie:
“Liberals also used to be hostile to the military on the assumption that it skewed right wing, but that’s a harder argument to make when the right is complaining about a ‘woke military.’”
What in the world would it mean to oppose organized mass murder because it skews right wing? What the hell else could it skew? I oppose militarism because it kills, destroys, damages the Earth, drives homelessness and illness and poverty, prevents global cooperation, tears down the rule of law, prevents self-governance, produces the dumbest pages of the New York Times, fuels bigotry, and militarizes police, and because there are better ways to resolve disputes and to resist the militarism of others. I’m not going to start cheering for mass killings because some general doesn’t hate enough groups.
Then there’s this lie: “The Biden administration touts the size of its $842 billion budget request, and in nominal terms it’s the largest ever. But that fails to account for inflation.”
If you look at U.S. military spending according to SIPRI in constant 2021 dollars from 1949 to now (all the years they provide, with their calculation adjusting for inflation), Obama’s 2011 record will probably fall this year. If you look at actual numbers, not adjusting for inflation, Biden has set a new record each year. If you add in the free weapons for Ukraine, then, even adjusting for inflation, the record fell this past year and will probably be broken again in the coming year.
You’ll hear all sorts of different numbers, depending on what’s included. Most used is probably $886 billion for what Biden has proposed, which includes the military, the nuclear weapons, and some of “Homeland Security.” In the absence of massive public pressure on a topic the public hardly knows exists, we can count on an increase by Congress, plus major new piles of free weapons to Ukraine. For the first time, U.S. military spending (not counting various secret spending, veterans spending, etc.) will likely top $950 billion as predicted here.
War profiteer-funded stink tankers like to view military spending as a philanthropic project to be measured as a percentage of an “economy” or GDP, as if the more money a country has, the more it should spend on organized killing. There are two more sensible ways to look at it. Both can be seen at Mapping Militarism.
One is as simple amounts per nation. In these terms, the U.S. is at a historic high and soaring far, far over the rest of the world.
The other way to look at it is per capita. As with a comparison of absolute spending, one has to travel far down the list to find any of the designated enemies of the U.S. government. But here Russia jumps to the top of that list, spending a full 20% of what the U.S. does per person, while only spending less than 9% in total dollars. In contrast, China slides down the list, spending less than 9% per person what the United States does, while spending 37% in absolute dollars. Iran, meanwhile, spends 5% per capita what the U.S. does, compared to just over 1% in total spending.
Our New York Times friend writes that the U.S. needs to spend more to dominate four oceans, while China need worry only about one. But here the U.S. desire to treat economic competition as a form of war blinds the commentator to the fact that a lack of war facilitates economic success. As Jimmy Carter told Donald Trump, “Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody? None. And we have stayed at war. . . . China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that’s why they’re ahead of us. In almost every way.”
But you could drop the idiotic economic competition and still understand the benefits of investing in something other than death since tiny fractions of military spending could transform the United States and the rest of the world. Surely there would remain plenty of other things to lie about.