The United States is back to defense spending, in constant dollars, that is higher than the peak spending levels under Ronald Reagan [bold mine-DL]. Only in 2010, at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was defense spending higher.Support for expanding an already bloated, excessive military budget is broad and bipartisan, but it is also profoundly misguided. For one thing, much of this spending has had and will have little or nothing to do with actually defending the United States or its allies, and most of it isn’t necessary for that purpose. The U.S. spends this much on a military this large in order to police and attack other parts of the world, and the only reason to increase that spending for an even larger military is to do more of those things. We should call it military spending or hegemony spending or imperial spending, but we should stop the bad habit of referring to it as spending on defense.
There is no security threat comparable to the Soviet Union today that would begin to justify spending more than at the height of the Reagan build-up. Reagan’s splurging on the military was also excessive, but he could at least point to a major rival that posed a serious threat as the reason for doing it. Threats to the U.S. today are not remotely on the same scale and don’t require anything like the same outlays on the military. We are frittering away resources on a much more expensive military at a time when we don’t need one and can’t afford one. Jacking up military spending at the same time as cutting taxes makes the new expenditure that much more irresponsible, and compounding the fiscal irresponsibility is the fact that there is no good reason to do it.
Adams notes that the surge in military spending is happening only because the military is demanding it and our representatives and president have no interest in rejecting that demand:
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