By David Sole
On December 15 the U.S. Senate passed a “Defense Appropriations Act” of $858 billion, moving this piece of legislation on to President Joe Biden for signing. The Senate, often split between the two parties, is usually unable to agree to anything important. However the vote on the military spending bill was 83 to 11, showing strong bipartisan support for United States imperialism’s world domination. The two houses of Congress even voted for $45 billion more spending than was requested by Biden.
With the U.S. deeply committed to weakening Russia by using its Ukrainian proxies, only $800 million of the monies were allocated for Ukraine military aid. Of course there has been other legislation passed committing the U.S. to spending around $80 billion for Ukraine.
In fact the War Budget is only part of the total U.S. spending on military matters. Not included, but directly related to Pentagon expenses, are the separate budgets for nuclear research and weapons, as well as the large item of veterans benefits from previous wars. Homeland Security is counted separately, too. One could also include the enormous interest on the national debt – money borrowed to pay for the ever expanding cost of militarism and war.
All together it is no exaggeration to say that U.S. militarism this year is swallowing up well over $1 trillion of taxpayers’ money. Most people really cannot comprehend this huge figure. Think about winning a million dollar lottery prize. One trillion is one million million!
Then consider what other parts of the annual U.S. budget cost. A chart from the National Priorities Project from government figures for 2020 shows military spending (Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security) gobbled up about 68% of the total budget. Education was only 5%, Health and Human Services was 7%, and Housing and Urban Development only 4%.
These figures don’t fully expose the cost to the world of U.S. militarism in the service of Wall Street capitalism. Hundreds of U.S. military bases cover the world, making sure that people trying to win basic human and labor rights never succeed. War and devastation in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, to name just a few recent conflicts have taken tens of thousands of lives and destroyed untold billions in property. These conflicts also have caused unprecedented shifts in population as migrants seek to escape their homes in distant lands. It also is true that the Pentagon is a major and uncontrolled cause of climate change.