The military budget of China is $230B, a fraction of the U.S. defense budget, $813B (Biden FY 2023). The U.S. targeted China as the most serious competitor and highlighted with rhetoric that China is a threat to the U.S. and to the world. It is a fact that the military budget of both countries have been increasing since the end of WW II (mutual insecurity complex?), seemingly it can be correlated with the warfare (or inversely peace) of the world (more wars cause insecurity). This is an unfortunate fact which deserves mankind’s attention (especially for Americans): Is the military budget a cause or consequence of warfare? Should citizens of every country have a say on the country’s military budget? In particular, what is the causality logic of the military budget of a great nation with nuclear arsenal? The author was struck by an article published by David Stockman (AntiWar.com, April 7, 2022), entitled, The Warfare State’s Infinitely Mendacious Echo Chamber. This excellent article contains lots of military spending data and facts of war activities, especially the current Ukraine war. It is a great report that every citizen should read. Dr. Wordman would like to append to Stockman’s well-articulated essay with a discussion on the questions posed above. Hopefully, this column will inspire fellow American citizens to take actions, speaking up and writing to their Congressmen to terminate the U.S. being a warfare state.
Stockman, a two time Congressman and a director of the Office of Management and Budget during the Reagan Administration, correctly pointed out that the Biden 2023 military budget, $813B, is a “grotesquely large”, being a fountain nourishing the “war fevers, Russophobia and sweeping disinformation that now gushes from the Washington war machine and its auxiliaries in the mainstream media.” To his statement, the present author may add: ‘the hyped China-Threat theory’ has also been feverishly portrayed in the media with an evil motive. Stockman also rightly stated, “the fact is, never before in the history of mankind have economic resources of this gigantic magnitude been showered upon the blob-like military-industrial-intelligence-foreign aid-think tank-NGO-lobbying complex that is now well ensconced in the world’s leading national capital.” Stockman didn’t explicitly discuss whether the gushing of resources is triggering more wars or caused by wars; the current Ukraine-Russia war is a clear example pondering the causality question. The very existence of the huge military budget supporting “the complex” over the years, nurtured NATO, making the U.S. the leader of NATO to become a warfare state, that is a state generating wars all over the world.
Stockman described, “there are literally hundreds of thousands of uniformed and civilian government employees and private contractors and consultants operating within the confines of the beltway (DC) and its outlying nodes.” They have vested interest in keeping the military budget growing by inventing and hyping the national security threats to warrant a defense budget of humongous size. What is not explicitly said was that to justify their existence actually induces them to do so. Endless research and study and funds supporting the think tanks, NGOs and consultants to simulate war scenarios and create actual wars and to fuel a massive and exaggerated national security threat. To the American people, we are lost in the causality logic when the wars are prolonged across many years of military budget cycles, was the budget fueling the war or the war fueling the budget?!
As clearly explained by Stockman, the U.S. military budget at the height of Cold War during President Eisenhower’s Administration was $52B (today’s value $370B, 45.5% of Biden’s $813B), a budget he felt adequate for national security. Recalling Eisenhower’s farewell speech, he delivered the warning of the dangers of unchecked power in the military-industrial complex. According to Stockman, Biden’s military budget is 2.2X of Ike’s 1960 budget, 2.0X of Nixon’s in 1972, 2.2X of Carter’s outgoing year 1982 and 1.54X and 1.33X of Reagan’s in 1986 and 1990. The 1990 was supposedly a dropping off point for U.S. foreign engagement, because the Soviet Union was having economic problems and China was raising debt to finance her economic development. The end of Cold War should have changed the trend of military spending. The U.S. was the only superpower in 1990’s and the U.S. military-industry complex was in full control. Why wasn’t the warfare state stopping expanding? Why was our military budget kept on rising?
The explanation has to be in the nature of “the complex” that was created in the U.S. First, there is the greed nature alluded to by Stockman. Second, the causality logic between warfare and military budget is inter-looped in complexity. The warfare is a multi-year affair and the budget cycle is an annual event subject to Congressional scrutiny. In a representative democracy, the citizens usually do not track closely on foreign affairs (thus vulnerable to brainwash). Hence, during each year’s budget time, only a few Congressional delegates who would look back on war expenditures and war threats or pending threats to make appropriations on military budget. If there was no war, the budget might get cut, so “the complex” would have to keep the war going, often using the existing money from past budget or employing creative financing (remember selling drugs?) to sustain or create new wars. The complex would often lobby the few key Congressional delegates to pass its desired budget. Perhaps, “the complex” has become “the Congress-military-industrial-intelligence-foreign aid-think tank-NGO-lobbying complex.”
Stockman also commented (reference Patrick Lawrence, Casualties of Empire, Consortium News, March 8, 2022) on the fake news created during the current Russia-Ukraine war, such as Russian bombing the maternity ward, then the theater, then the school and the massacre in Bucha town in Kiev killing the civilians with 410 corpses exposed in the Bucha street. The evidences were suspicious (corpses wearing white bands indicating neutral or pro-Russian citizens) and they were denied from UN inspections. The media reporting of the war was full of propaganda designed to paint Zelensky as a hero, Ukrainians were brave and winning, and Russians were committing genocide and war crimes, all for the purpose of prolonging the war passing the U.S. election. This author has written numerous times about the problem of distorted media and suggested that an UN World Media Organization (WMO) should be established to prevent and clean up fake news wars. The consequence of fake war news is that unnecessary wars can be encouraged and triggered and peace negotiation can be sabotaged. This is exactly happening to Ukraine. The media machine has become the evil tool in the causality chain of warfare and military budget. On the one hand, it is used to create and exaggerate the war threat to justify military budget and weapon development and on the other hand it is used to paint and horrify the war results to justify spending and winning cruel warfare.
So to American citizens, it is irrelevant to consider whether military budget caused warfare or vice versa, either way we will be falling into the warfare-military budget inter-loop. It is important to understand that our national security today is never worse than Eisenhower, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Obama eras. (Ukraine not joining the NATO may even enhance our national security.) It is crucial for American citizens to stop “the complex” to keep fueling the threat-warfare-military budget inter-loop. The most critical part perhaps is to break the Congress from “the complex”. Please start by writing to your Congress representatives asking why the U.S. is a warfare state having wars in 99% of her history of independence?! Why can't the U.S. start a peace movement for a change?!