Just in case you were wondering where your tax dollars went in this century, consider the American war, now 20 years old, in Iraq (and after 2014 in Syria as well). Neta Crawford of the invaluable Costs of War Project has just released her latest summary of what that invasion and the disaster that followed cost the American taxpayer. Her estimate: $1.79 trillion, if you don’t count the future costs of caring for that war’s damaged U.S. veterans. If you do, we’re talking about $2.89 trillion by 2050. And in case you think that’s all so been-there-done-that, don’t forget, while this country no longer has 170,000 troops in Iraq as it did in 2007, there are still 2,500 of them there and another 900 or so in Syria. Add in the no less disastrous war in Afghanistan, another $2.3 trillion or so, and you’ve already made it over the $5-trillion mark before you even include the costs of the rest of the disastrous global war on terror (still ongoing) in places ranging from Somalia to West Africa.
Think of that as the context for the latest Pentagon budget, already larger than those of the next nine countries combined, because here’s what couldn’t be stranger: the less successful the U.S. military has been globally, the more we, the taxpayers, have to ante up. Yep, the 2023 Pentagon budget, passed late last year, was $858 billion and, if you’re talking about the full “national security” budget, including all our intelligence agencies, the Department of Homeland Security, and the like, that figure is closer to $1.5 trillion annually.
In fact, these days, hiking the Pentagon budget may be just about the only thing congressional Republicans and Democrats can actually agree on, which means… yes, as retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, historian, blogger, and TomDispatch regular William Astore makes strikingly clear today, we’re still heading for the stratosphere (and I’m not thinking about the U.S. Air Force or even that American drone Russian planes forced down over the Black Sea recently). In fact, when it comes to that budget, the proverbial sky may not be the limit, but outer space itself. Tom
A Highway to Peace or a Highway to Hell?
The Vast Power of the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex
In April 1953, newly elected President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a retired five-star Army general who had led the landings on D-Day in France in June 1944, gave his most powerful speech. It would become known as his “Cross of Iron” address. In it, Ike warned of the cost humanity would pay if Cold War competition led to a world dominated by wars and weaponry that couldn’t be reined in. In the immediate aftermath of the death of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, Ike extended an olive branch to the new leaders of that empire. He sought, he said, to put America and the world on a “highway to peace.” It was, of course, never to be, as this country's emergent military-industrial-congressional complex (MICC) chose instead to build a militarized (and highly profitable) highway to hell.
Eight years later, in his famous farewell address, a frustrated and alarmed president called out "the military-industrial complex," prophetically warning of its anti-democratic nature and the disastrous rise of misplaced power that it represented. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry, fully engaged in corralling, containing, and constraining it, he concluded, could save democracy and bolster peaceful methods and goals.Read More