If President Trump really feels the need to cut foreign aid, he should take a close look at the Pentagon’s “shadow” security assistance programs — programs that are buried deep in the department’s budget, where they are largely shielded from scrutiny by the news media, the public and most members of Congress.
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Pentagon has created dozens of new arms and training programs within its own budget, at a cost of about $10 billion per year, in support of activities in more than 130 countries, according to the Security Assistance Monitor. This is small change by Pentagon standards, but more than three times the value of the domestic programs that are on the White House’s “hit list,” including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, and funding for Planned Parenthood, Legal Services, AmeriCorps and the Export-Import Bank. Continue reading
And while Trump says increased military spending will reassert America’s strength, the United States already is the world’s 800-pound gorilla. In 2015, it was responsible for more than one third of all military spending on the planet. China and Russia, the United States’ main military competitors, don’t even come close.
Trump’s budget plans also feature drastic cuts to international and environmental spending. He’s reportedly pushing for a 24 percent cut to the EPA budget and a 37 percent cut to the State Department and USAID budget. While such reductions would have profound effects on these agencies, they are a drop in the bucket compared with the Pentagon budget. In 2016, the Department of State and USAID received an estimated $50.6 billion, or 1.3 percent of all federal spending. The EPA received $8.3 billion, or 0.2 percent of all federal spending. Meanwhile, the Pentagon got 15 percent.
“I don’t know how you take $54 billion out without wholesale taking out entire departments,” said Bill Hoagland, a longtime Republican budget aide in the Senate and now a senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “You need to control it in the area of the entitlement programs, which he’s taken off the table. It is a proposal, I dare say, that will be dead on arrival even with a Republican Congress.” Continue reading
WILLIAM HARTUNG: Well, he committed truth: He said it’s one of the largest military budget increases in history—about 10 percent, $54 billion, which, to put it in perspective, would be about what the United Kingdom spends—just the increase. That would be the seventh biggest military budget in the world. And, of course, we’re spending at historic levels, $600 billion a year, which is more than the peak of Reagan. The Obama years, we spent more than under George W. Bush. So the idea that there’s a gap in military spending is ludicrous. He hasn’t talked about tens of billion dollars in Pentagon waste. And, of course, he hasn’t said how he’s going use the military, other than rattling sabers about Iran, which, were they to go to war with Iran, as one person said, would be—make Iraq look like a walk in the park. So, I think the money is problematic, but also kind of the reckless possibilities of how they might use the military.
hit list” of agencies and programs to eliminate. Current candidates include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities; Legal Services Corporation; and AmeriCorps. And Trump—no doubt egged on by Mike Pence—has pledged to cut the more than $500 million in funding to Planned Parenthood…As The New York Times first reported, Trump’s newly confirmed budget director, former South Carolina congressman Mick Mulvaney, has assembled a “
All of the programs slated for closure, plus the proposed Planned Parenthood cuts, cost the federal government a combined total of about $3 billion per year. That grand totally amounts to one-half of one percent of, the current Pentagon budget, now runs at about $600 billion per year. And that’s before Trump’s pledge to throw an additional $1 trillion at that bloated department over the next ten years. Continue readingThe proposed cuts have everything to do with right-wing ideology and nothing to do with fiscal responsibility. All of the programs slated for closing provide essential public services.
At one point, there were something like 1,000 installations in Iraq and Afghanistan alone, from bases large enough to be small American towns to tiny combat outposts. In 2015, there were at least 800 significant U.S. bases in foreign countries (and more small camps and places where U.S. military equipment was pre-positioned for future use). No great power, not even Britain at its imperial height, had ever had such a global military “footprint,” such an “empire of bases,” and yet in this country it was as if no one noticed, as if it were of no importance at all.
Let’s start with a baseline look at the Pentagon’s finances at this moment. At $600 billion-plus per year, the government is already spending more money on the Pentagon than it did at the peak of the massive military buildup President Ronald Reagan initiated in the 1980s. In fact, despite what you might imagine, the Obama administration has pumped more tax dollars into the military in its two terms than did George W. Bush. According to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, the U.S. currently spends four times what China does and 10 times what the Russians sink into their military. Continue reading
There is a defense budget crisis on the horizon, but the Pentagon is hiding its head in the sand. Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s reluctance to deal with it threatens to waste billions and saddle the next president with a political time bomb before she/he even sets foot in the White House. …
According to a Jan. 27 report by budget guru Todd Harrison at the centrist Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), many of the new weapon systems the Pentagon plans to build will reach their peak funding requirements at the same time, around 2022. This is known in defense jargon as a modernization “bow wave” and, given budget caps and limited resources, there will not be enough money to pay for it. Continue reading
The $1.15 trillion spending package would fund the government in Fiscal 2016 if passed by both chambers of Congress. It includes $572.7 billion for defence, of which $111 billion procures new hardware and $69.8 funds research and development.
If passed, the spending deal would bless the F-35 programme with $1.33 billion in additional procurement money for an extra three F-35As, six F-35Bs and two F-35Cs, just as production ramps up in Fort Worth, Texas.
On this Global Day of Action on Military Spending, 13 April 2015, Pax Christi International expresses deep concern about the scandal of excessive military spending in a world where human and ecological well-being are in dire need of investment. Figures recently published by SIPRI, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, estimate world military expenditures in real terms for 2014 at roughly $ 1.8 trillion, a significant increase from the already shocking $ 1.75 trillion spent in 2013.
Gregory D. Johnsen wrote a detailed account of the rise of Huthis in Yemen. Adam Baron argued that the power struggle is primarily local and foreign intervention will be a very bad idea.
But what is abundantly clear at the moment is that this remains, by and large, an internal Yemeni political conflict—one that, despite frequent sectarian mischaracterizations and potential regional implications, remains deeply rooted in local Yemeni issues.
And if history is a guide, foreign intervention will only stand to exacerbate the situation. Ironically, talk now centers on a potential Saudi Arabian and Egyptian military intervention in Yemen, a scenario that immediately brought to mind the memory of North Yemen’s 1960s Civil War which saw both sides intervene—albeit on different sides—in a matter which only appeared to draw the conflict out further. This is not to say that there isn’t a place for foreign powers to aid Yemeni factions in negotiating some new political settlement. But any nation that aims to make Yemen’s fight their own is more than likely to come out on the losing side.
British MPs voted in favour of keeping defence spending at 2% of GDP. Just 40 MPs voted and the result carries no legal force.
Rory Stewart, Conservative MP for Penrith and the Border and chairman of the defence select committee, warned MPs that Britain could not continue to rely on the military might of America and be a “freeloader”. “This 2% is needed because the threats are real. The world is genuinely getting more dangerous,” he said.
Stephanie Gaskell, “Pentagon Wants to Keep Controversial War Budget Beyond Afghanistan,” 5 March 2014, Defense One
… But despite the massive drawdown, Pentagon officials want to keep a comparably oversized war chest funded well into next year, quickly raising eyebrows among members of Congress.
The fiscal year 2015 budget calls for $79 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO, which funds the war in Afghanistan and other overseas operations. Although the U.S.footprint in Afghanistan has shrunk over the past couple of years, the war budget has stayed robust. This year Congress approved $85 billion for the account.
Dinah Walker, “Trends in U.S. Military Spending,” Council on Foreign Relations, 30 July 2013
The following charts present historical trends in U.S. military spending and analyze the forces that may drive it lower.
These charts draw on data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Both data sets include spending on overseas contingency operations as well as defense. This distinguishes them from data used in the U.S. budget, which separates defense spending from spending on overseas operations.
Download Trends in US Military Spending 2013 [pdf].
Brad Plumer, “America’s staggering defense budget, in charts,” The Washington Post, 7 January 2013
The United States spends far more than any other country on defense and security. Since 2001, the base defense budget has soared from $287 billion to $530 billion — and that’s before accounting for the primary costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
1) The United States spent 20 percent of the federal budget on defense in 2011.
Timothy McGrath, “7 incredible ways the Pentagon mismanages its massive budget,” GlobalPost, 19 November 2013
In November, Reuters published the second part of its series on the Pentagon’s management (or lack thereof) of its $565.8 billion budget. And it’s a doozy. …
1) The Pentagon cooks the books
The agency in charge of the Pentagon’s accounting is called the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). It seems that a lot of what they do is make things up. The official mechanism for making things up is called an “unsubstantiated change action,” more commonly known as a “plug.” …
2) Those “plugs” add up to a lot of money
Joe Glenton, “Reducing the defence budget is not the end of Britain. It could be part of our rebirth,” The Independent, 17 January 2014
The tantrums which are emerging from the offense camp should be ignored. Britain has one of the largest military budgets in the world. As part of our swollen offense portfolio this small nation wields a preposterously expensive standing military which lacks utility (see Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya) and a nuclear arsenal which has no practical value beyond masculine prestige. There are three factors to consider.
Dave Gilson, “The Venn Diagram That Explains How the Ryan-Murray Budget Deal Happened,” Mother Jones, 12 December 2013