This post is also available in: Spanish
By Jan Oberg
A major economic factor behind the relative decline of the US is one hardly ever mentioned, at least not in the Western mainstream circles: Militarism. The US is militarizing itself to death.
Instead, we get a constant news stream about all the enemies the US believes it has all over the world – serving its addiction more than the truth.
The costs of its armed forces, its global war on terror, the homeland security, pensions and medical aid to veterans, its bases abroad and all its wars – plus, not the least paying interest on the loans that finance it all – add up to sums no one can imagine.
These are the facts: Every hour since 2001, the US taxpayers are paying US $ 32 million. That is now close to US$ 5000 billion in total!
Add to that the tragedy of the absurd: from Vietnam to Syria, 1955 till today or 64 years, there is no documentable evidence that all of its wars, interventions, occupations, meddlings, regime changes have been anything but failures.
There is no evidence either that today’s world is a better place than it would have been without these wars, alliances, deterrence and confrontational policies.
But there is plenty of hard evidence that the United States of America is in relative decline as a world power. Plenty of facts to show that others – who spend much less on their military and have no Empire – are growing and destined to surpass the US on fundamental indicators in just a few years.
As the largest military machine in human history, it has lost wars in small countries, lost the battles for local people’s hearts and lost the media wars too. On its way to these – predictable – fiascos, it has systematically violated international law, including UNCharter norms, and thrown out every moral criterion.
It has lacked exit strategies, left countries and cultures worse than when it entered. It has – thereby – caused most of the terrorism problem it maintains that it must fight worldwide since 9/11: It’s now a perfect perpetuum mobile to hell.
Militarism has ended the US where it is today: one of the most hated and least trusted major actors.
The peace that was promised the American people and humanity at each increase of the costs turned out – every single time – to be false. There was always a need for more, more, and more, always a new enemy or an old enemy doing new bad things.
eople believed it because they were told to fear, told that their fear would only go away if the military got more.
In summary, the diagnosis should be pretty obvious: Uncontrollable addiction. Denial. Delusion. It is not healthy. It is a life-threatening disease for which the patient should seek help.
Various aspects of these costs are calculated on a still-counting basis by the Massachusetts-based National Priorities Project of the Institute for Policy Studies and the Cost of War Project at Brown University. (No, this is not a Russian/Putin propaganda operation).
You should browse these two sites if you are interested in the issues as such and if you are tired of being told that all the rest of the world are bad guys while the U.S. seeks only peace.
And, as The Guardian correctly points out, “A budget shows our values more clearly than any tweet, campaign speech, or political slogan”.
As you can see, pure defence (the Pentagon budget) takes 57% of the FY 2020 discretionary Trump budget. Add to that Homeland Security 4% and Veterans Affairs 7%.
Add to that what is not here, namely interest on war debt. Every hour, taxpayers in the US are paying $ 10.05 million on that since 2001. And add some of Energy’s work related to nuclear weapons etc. – and we are talking about a country that spends at least 70% of its national budget on militarism… US$ 34 million per hour…
Depending on which research institute you rely on and what budget items you include in the concept of “military expenditures”, the US alone stands for 45 to 55% of the world’s total military (“defence”) expenditures.
And, still, it feels threatened all the time, pointing constantly at this or that enemy – be it Iran, North Korea, Russia, China – all de facto dwarfs when compared with the U.S.
Now, money is of course not the only and perhaps not the most important measure of the costs of militarism. Here’s the human toll:
Isn’t it heart-breaking? The facts are available. Why don’t you hear about them? Why don’t they make top stories anywhere?
Militarism is a major, never-mentioned – destroyer of the environment and misuser of nature’s resources. How often is that mentioned in the reports about climate change – or, rather global warming, pollution, resource depletion?
Militarism – sold as “defence”, “stability”, “security” and “peace” – is a de facto mass killer, a mass destroyer, a massive waste of scarce resources in times of socio-economic crisis – and for what is wasted on militarism, we could build a wonderful world (the so-called opportunity costs calculation).
Imagine a US president who would declare that s/he would cut these costs by, say, 50% and allocate those US$ 500-600 billion annually to both make the US itself a better country to live in and invest in doing good around the rest of the world.
The US would immediately become the most respected and loved country on earth – two things it lacks today. And by that, it would become much more secure.
You probably don’t hear about these facts – but surely and all the time about the bad guys out there – because there is something called propaganda, fake and omission. And something called self-censorship and paid, commissioned research that legitimates the addiction.
Sadly, the ever-narrowing interpretation of freedom of speech and writing and of truly free research prevents these figures from being part of the public discourse. They are systematically omitted from the public eye, even from critical media and academia.
And who and what masterminds these mechanisms? Of course, those who profit – economically or otherwise – from militarism: The MIMAC – that is, the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex.
In 1961, in his farewell speech, president Dwight D. Eisenhower, warned the American people about the fundamental dangers that he called the “Military-Industrial Complex” (MIC). He saw it as a mortal threat to democracy and freedom and only an alert citizenry would be able to keep it in its rightful place in society.
Please see these 3 minutes of his historic speech backed up by research and background information. And you’ll understand better how far the cancer of US militarism has grown and how it threatens to destroy US society and its democracy:
The West – led by the United States of American – is not only committing a slow suicidebecause of its addiction to militarism – enough is never enough, as the above figures tell – it is also in denial about its major problem. And it’s a problem unique in scope, depth and dependence to that particular civilization.
There is no way this can go well in the long run.
A society that normally spends 70% of its taxpayers’ money on war and 5% only on education is doomed. It’s as tragic as can be and there are no signs that political and military decision-makers or major research institutions and think tanks have even begun to deal with that manifest denial.
The Trump administration’s budget is the largest ever. It’s delusional to believe it will make the US great, loved and secure.
It will maintain the US as the world’s leading rogue state and isolate it more and more from the rest of human civilization. It spells new wars in the future.
Please, now study the links above carefully. And if you shed a tear at the thought of how much goodthese sums could instead have bought – and can buy – the American people and the rest of humanity, your tears only prove that you are a human and that you have empathy. Use that humanity before it’s too late!
- I write this article with deep regret since I have never been “anti-American” but, rather, admired the society, its creativity and arts. I have, however, fought against its Empire and every one of its military actions since the Vietnam War. I firmly believe the US will only survive and prosper in the long run if it rids itself of its Empire and militarism.
- The photo above is of the “Portable War Memorial” (1968) by Edward Kienholz, US artist – one of the most important. Here a video of it and here a background.