Here’s the strange thing: almost 20 years into a series of chaotic, staggeringly expensive, failing wars across significant parts of the planet, the U.S. military — “the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known” (George W. Bush), aka “the finest fighting force that the world has ever known” (Barack Obama) — continues to eat taxpayer dollars as if they were nothing at all. According to the Costs of War Project, the U.S. has sunk almost $2.3 trillion dollars into the failed Afghan War from which it’s now retreating and a minimum of $6.4 trillion into all the major conflicts of the Global War on Terror (not even counting future costs caring for the war’s vets). And all of this happened in years in which little indeed went into American domestic infrastructure. And yet, even as it leaves Afghanistan, the Biden administration is actually upping the already stratospheric Pentagon budget, and Republicans in Congress, who normally fight spending a cent on anyone other than corporations and billionaires, are urging the president to spend even more. Worse yet, the American public generally seems remarkably satisfied with such spending. Somehow, what the U.S. military machine has done over all these years just never seems to sink in here.
The latest polling figures show that only 14% of Americans saw this country’s “defense” efforts (as they’re always called, despite those “forever wars” in distant lands) as too much and would like to see military spending lowered. Half of all Americans consider the U.S. defense posture “just right” and 35% would like more of the same (up from 25% last year). In January, a Gallup poll indicated that 74% of Americans were “very or somewhat satisfied with the nation’s military strength and preparedness” and, in that context, the military always has a sky-high positive image in polling here — and it only rose in pandemic year 2020.
It’s as if Americans were simply not living in the world that the U.S. military was operating in and, in a sense, as retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and TomDispatch regular William Astore, who runs the Bracing Views blog, suggests today, they may not be. That military and the “industrial complex” that goes with it may, in fact, represent another universe entirely, one that Americans look at from afar as if it were all happening to someone else — as, in a sense (ask the Afghans, Iraqis, or Somalis), it is. Tom
On Pulling the Plug on the War Machine
Why don’t America’s wars ever end?
I know, I know: President Joe Biden has announced that our combat troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by 9/11 of this year, marking the 20th anniversary of the colossal failure of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to defend America.Read More