Winslow T. Wheeler, “America’s $1 Trillion National Security Budget,” 16 March 2014, Truthout
Scarcity of money is not their problem. Pentagon costs, taken together with other known national security expenses for 2015, will exceed $1 trillion. How can that be? The trade press is full of statements about the Pentagon’s $495.6 billion budget and how low that is.
There is much more than $495.6 billion in the budget for the Pentagon, and there are piles of national security spending outside the Pentagon-all of it as elemental for national security as any new aircraft and ships and the morale and well-being of our troops.
… In all, the Pentagon’s budget for all of its own expenses in 2015 is not $495.6 billion, it is $645.1 billion, or $149.5 billion (30 percent) more. If one were to add the nuclear weapons’ costs borne by the Department of Energy, the amount would be $664.5 billion, or 34 percent more. (Don’t add the four score billions of dollars for intelligence and snooping; the budgets for CIA, NSA and all the rest are embedded in the DOD budget.)
Consider also the substantial costs that are properly outside of the Pentagon’s budget but that are central to US national security:
- $52.1 billion in non-DOD spending in the Department of Homeland Security,
- $161.2 billion for the human consequences of past and ongoing wars in the Department of Veterans Affairs, and
- $39 billion for the activities of the Department of State and related agencies-for international security and the exercise of US power abroad.
With the addition of an equitable share of the interest on the national debt that is attributable to this spending, it all adds up to $1.0095 trillion. It is that amount, not $495.6 billion, that US taxpayers are being asked to pay out in 2015 for “defense,” defined generically. …
By converting annual Pentagon spending to “constant” (inflation adjusted) dollars adjusted to their 2015 value, and by using the economy-wide GDP measure of inflation for doing so (not the Pentagon’s own hopelessly self-serving measure of inflation), we can compare the 2015 Pentagon budget to its post-World War Two history.
(Those interested to do so can find a historically identical graph in CSBA’s 2013 study“Chaos and Uncertainty: The 2014 Defense Budget and Beyond” by Todd Harrison; see Figure 18 on page 25.)
… To repeat, the problem is not scarcity of money. The problem is how it is being spent. We are getting very little defense–training, maintenance, hardware, and troops–for a gigantic amount of money. By virtue of how they characterize $1 trillion dollars as penury, our national security leaders in the Pentagon and Congress are clearly incapable of dealing with the problem. …
Read the full article here.