Monday, October 06, 2014

Washington's Bloated Defense Budget

Washington's Bloated Defense Budget

by Stephen Lendman

Washington Post editors want America's bloated defense budget increased. So do some of its contributors. More on this below.

America's business is war. Without end. Ravaging, destroying and pillaging one nation after another.

Doing it for wealth, power and dominance. While vital homeland needs go begging. At a time America's only enemies are ones it invents.

Annual congressional national defense authorizations are the tip of the iceberg. America's defense spending constitutes a black hole of waste, fraud and abuse. More on this below.

It's military Keynesianism on steroids. With all categories included, America spends as much or more on militarism, wars and related areas than the rest of the world combined.

Over $1.5 trillion annually goes for so-called defense. Doing so makes the world safe for war profiteers. They never had it better.

Enormous sums get tossed around mindlessly. Government watchdogs identify hundreds of billions of potential savings from unneeded weapons, defective ones, no-bid excess, overpayments, and outright fraud.

Intelligence spending accounts for tens of billions of dollars annually. Other black budgets include enormous unknown amounts.  

Add-ons increase them exponentially. What's spent is hidden from public view. Most congressional members don't know.

On January 13, HR 3855: Intelligence Budget Transparency Act of 2014 was introduced. 

It requires annual federal budget submissions to include total dollar amounts proposed for intelligence and related activities, as well as estimated appropriations required for each of four ensuing years.

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Budget. It's gone nowhere so far. 

Gov Track explains only 11% of legislation makes it through committees. In 2011 - 2013, only about 3% passed.

On November 24, 2013, the Army Times said Pentagon base budgeting increased 85% post-9/11. Including overseas contingency operations, it's up over 104%.

Military and civilian personnel costs alone increased by 78% from 2001 to 2012. Weapons development costs grew by around the same amount.

Much of the increase came from cost overruns. The Government Accountability Office said 85 "major (DOD) acquisition programs" ran a collective $411 billion over initially budgeted amounts.

Some acquisition programs aren't completed. Some weapons produced aren't used. Tens of billions of dollars, perhaps hundreds, spent are wasted.

For FY 2015, Obama's proposed discretionary spending allocated 61% for military related purposes, including veterans' benefits. 

Excluded are military related Department of Energy, State and Treasury spending. Department of Homeland Security. NASA. 

Department of Veterans Affairs administration and net interest attributable to past debt-financed defense outlays.

Other priorities get crumbs by comparison:

Government: 6%

Education: 6%

Social Security, Unemployment & labor: 5%

Housing & community: 5%

Medicare & Health: 5%

Energy & environment: 3%

International affairs: 3%

Science: 3%

Transportation: 2%

Food and agriculture: 1%

A previous article discussed enormous Pentagon waste, fraud and abuse. It's a black hole of unaccountability. 

On September 10, 2001, then Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said:

"According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions."

On November 18, 2013 Reuters headlined "Behind the Pentagon's doctored ledgers, a running tally of epic waste."

Since 1996, DOD was never held accountable for $8.5 trillion. Sweetheart deals, no-bid contracts, out-of-control cost overruns,  bribes and kickbacks are commonplace.

So is routine over-billing amounting to grand theft. DOD has a virtual blank check. Defense contractor favorites cash in hugely.

At taxpayers' expense. Sacrificing peace, stability, security, equity and justice. Shutting out vital homeland needs.

According to Reuters, DOD "chronic(ally) fail(s) to keep track of its money - how much it has, how much it pays out, and how much is wasted or stolen."

Monthly it spills far more than most nations spend annually in total. It's entire record keeping system is dysfunctional. Nothing remedial is done.

It doesn't keep track of its vast amount and types of weapons, munitions and related supplies. It spends huge amounts on what's not needed. 

How much isn't known. Operations are rife with waste and fraud. Abuses go undiscovered for years. Accountability is entirely lacking.

Congress largely ignores abusive practices. It pays lip service at times. Too weak-kneed to matter.

Advancing America's imperium matters most. Pedal-to-the-metal unaudited spending continues out-of-control.

Not according to Washington Post editors. They want more. On October 5, they headlined "Paying for wars against the Islamic State, Ebola and more," saying:

Budgets "needed to sustain them (are) crumbling." Despite rising defense spending with all categories included, WaPo editors claim huge cuts were made.

More are coming, they say, at a time America spends as much or more on defense and related areas than the rest of the world combined.

Not enough, say WaPo editors. "(T)he Pentagon's ability to respond to the multiple international crises of this year (is) hamstrung," they claim.

Pentagon spending is likely to be "underfunded by hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming years," they added.

Congress should budget adequately for America's wars and then some, they urge. Never mind their lawlessness. Or destructiveness. Or cost in millions of lives.

A previous article discussed Mitt Romney's September 4 WaPo op-ed headlined "The need for a mighty US military," saying:

"Russia invades, China bullies, Iran spins centrifuges, the Islamic State ('a terrorist threat beyond anything that we've seen,' according to the defense secretary) threatens - and Washington slashes the military."

So-called defense cuts are more illusion than real. Military Keynesianism remains official US policy.

Sequestration cuts barely touched defense authorizations. Nor will they going forward. Unaccountable trillions are wasted.

Spending goes for high crimes against peace. Wars without mercy. Without end. In multiple theaters. With others planned. Romney wants more than already. So do others in Washington.

No nation causes more harm to more people globally than America. None more lawlessly. Or ruthlessly. Or cynically. Or unapologetically. 

Dominance matters most. So does plundering world resources. America's military is an out-of-control monster. It threatens humanity's survival.

Hawks infesting Washington want greater destructive power than already. They want it used to advance America's imperium.

Michele Flournoy and Eric Adelman are former undersecretaries of defense for policy. For Obama and GW Bush respectively.

On September 19, they headlined "Cuts to defense spending are hurting our national security," saying:

"(D)ramatic global events (remind) us all that the United States faces perhaps the most complex and volatile security environment since World War II."

It's an "environment" of its own making. It's pure evil. It's lawlessly out-of-control. Permanent wars assure more to come.

Mass slaughter and destruction reflect the American way. So does carving up whole continents for plunder and profit.

Don't expect Flournoy and Adelman to explain. They call reigning in irresponsible defense spending a "serious strategic misstep."

It compromises America's "national defense strategy." A "readiness crisis within our armed forces" already exists, they claim.

"The US military is an indispensable instrument underpinning the diplomatic, economic and intelligence elements of our national power," they insist. 

"It keeps key trade routes open, maintains stability in vital regions such as the Persian Gulf and sustains alliances that serve US and global interests."

US forces "must be able to deter or stop aggression in multiple theaters," they claim. They exist because Washington initiates them.

Continues them. Does so against one country after another. It bears repeating. America's business is war. Permanent ones against enemies it invents.

Stopping them requires huge defense spending cuts. Closing overseas bases. Curtaining weapons development. Waging peace, not war.

If US military spending was one-fourth or less its current amount, it would still outspend world nations budgeting more for defense than other nations except Washington.

Imagine possible savings if US aggressive wars ended. And occupations. And its empire of bases was shuttered. 

And its 2.3 million active frontline and active reserve personnel numbers were drastically reduced.

Imagine peace instead of war. Imagine a world safe to live in. 

Imagine US resources going for popular and other responsible needs. Imagine polar opposite today's conditions.

Not as long as hawks make policy. Flournoy and  Adelman ludicrously claim US security requires more military spending, not less.

For "critical capabilities," they say. For better ways to wage aggressive wars. To make the world safe for monied interests. To risk destroying it at the same time.

Robert Samuelson is a WaPo columnist. He covers politics, business and economic issues. 

He makes economics look like pseudoscience. He's notoriously neoliberal. He moralizes over deficit conditions.

He prioritizes austerity. He wants Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid cut more than already. Last month, he hyperventilated over "America's neglected defense."

He turned truth on its head doing it. Big Lies littered his commentary. It makes painful reading.

He lied claiming Russia "manufactured a 'rebellion' " in Ukraine. He ignored Washington using Islamic State fighters as foot soldiers saying they expanded their footprint in Iraq.

He omitted key facts saying "China harassed ships of nations claiming islands (it) considers its own." He claimed "implications of these events seem to have escaped the Obama White House and Congress."

He blames his convoluted version of events on nonexistent defense cuts. "(J)ust another line in the budget," he said. "(D)isconnected from our strategic interests and potential threats."

"(A) money pot (to be used for) Social Security and Medicare, which are largely immune to cuts," he said.

Fact check

Social Security and Medicare have been on the chopping block for years. Obama alone cut hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare.

Plans are either to hand both programs to Wall Street or end them altogether. "Creeping normalcy" intends death by a 1,000 cuts by one means or another.

No matter that both programs aren't entitlements. They're insurance plans paid for by payroll taxes. 

They're contractual federal obligations Washington intends reneging on. Don't expect Samuelson to explain.

Or that defense spending sucks up 61% of US discretionary spending. He wants more. As much as possible to battle America's invented enemies. 

To enrich war profiteers. To advance America's imperium. To do it at the expense of world peace, stability and security.

Samuelson ludicrously claims strategic US needs "are twisted to fit available defense dollars, as opposed to" spending unlimited amounts on war-making.

On mass slaughter and destruction. On creating unspeakable human misery. On ravaging planet earth to control it. Pillage it.

"Defense makes a tempting target for budget-cutters," Samuelson claims. So-called sequester cuts were illusory. So are planned future ones.

When America goes to war on plans one, Congress appropriates whatever is needed to wage it.

It's mindless about amounts spent. Or on unneeded new weapons. Or on billions given Israel annually for its wars in violation of US law prohibiting human rights abusers from receiving any military aid.

Or trillions down the drain on massive waste, fraud and abuse. America's top priority is serving corrupted monied interests. Wars benefit them hugely.

Amounts spent way exceed budgeted totals. At the expense of vital popular needs.

Not according to Samuelson. "There are more missions and fewer resources," he says. Why any so-called "missions" at all he left unexplained.

Ones he named included:

  • "fighting terrorism" America invents;

  • "protecting Europe" from a nonexistent Russian threat;

  • "coping with Iran's (well-known peaceful/legitimate) nuclear program;

  • "containing North Kore" despite its longstanding efforts seeking rapprochement with Washington and other Western nations; they've been rebuffed for decades; and

  • what Samuelson calls "a resurgent China" posing no threat to America or Asian nations.

US global leadership depends on "military might," he claims. He ludicrously says it provides "stability." It's "under-appreciated," he added.

At a time huge military spending cuts are needed more than ever, he claims increased amounts are "in our interest."

Billions worldwide disagree. So do the vast majority of world nations. Don't expect Samuelson to explain.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

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