President Dwight Eisenhower cautioned Americans regarding the military industrial complex. In his parting speech to Americans when he left office in January 17, 1961, Eisenhower said:
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Eisenhower warns us of the military industrial complex.
U.S. and Worldwide Military Expenditures
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the United States military expenditures are 46.51% of all worldwide military expenditures.
In 2009 the United States spent $712 Billion Dollars. China, which ranks No. 2 in military expenditures in the world, spent $100 billion in 2009 which is only 6.53% of the world’s military expenditures.
U.S. military spending is 7 times more than China and 13 times more than Russia. The U.S. spends more on military expenditures than the following 14 countries combined:
- United Kingdom
- Saudi Arabia
- South Korea
In 2009 total military spending topped $1.531 Trillion worldwide.
The entire United Nations budget is only 1.8% the amount of worldwide military expenditures. The United Nations annual 2009 budget was approximately $30 billion or $4 for each person in the world.
The BBC’s Jorn Madslien reported in “The Purchasing Power of Peace” on June 3, 2009,
Poverty fuels violence
At a time when a deep economic recession is causing much turbulence in the civilian world – buffeting both airlines and aerospace companies – defence giants such as Boeing and EADS, or Finmeccanica and Northrop Grumman, are enjoying a reliable and growing revenue stream from countries eager to increase their military might.
Do we really need to spend so much money on defense? Why?
What would happen to these companies if we moved towards a Culture of Peace? Could these companies turn their military technology into something else?
How much resources go into the military industrial complex? Could these resources be better used for improving infrastructure–roads, bridges, rail systems, schools?
Spending money on defense creates less jobs than those in other sectors of the economy. Blogger at NakedCapitalism.com has an interesting post that confirms that:
a study by one of the leading economic modeling companies shows that military spending increases unemployment and decreases economic growth.
What about the black budgets. How much money is off the grid?
Here’s a link to a relevant political cartoon about defense spending vs. domestic spending posted on The Portland Observer.
What role does the media play in promoting a culture of violence vs a culture of peace? This report by the Institute for Economics and Peace provides an in-depth report.
Where do we go From Here to Spend more Wisely?
The new Congress will begin on January 4, 2011. Many claim they want to rein in spending. It seems like a good place to begin is with the Defense Budget. As Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier explain in their PERI report of 2009, more jobs are created per dollar for non-defense related spending than for defense-related spending.
What does it mean to truly be “fiscally responsible?” Could we say it is obscene that the U.S. spends approximately 50% of all military expenditures in the world?
Where do we begin and how to reduce military expenditures in the U.S.? What are your ideas and thoughts on the topic?
Please share relevant information for the discussion.
Happy New Year Folks!