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This is and always has been insane. Massive military expenditures have brought on the collapse of history’s greatest empires: Rome, Spain, Great Britain. We’re on our way to being next. 

 Remember the “peace dividend” we anticipated at the end of the Cold War? At last we could divert tax dollars from the military to things that would enhance the quality of our lives, things like health care, education, infrastructure, diminishing poverty and protecting against climate change.

But alas, the peace dividend never happened. Why not? Because the military, and persons profiting from the military like weapons’ manufacturers and their lobbyists in Congress, didn’t want it to. That’s why. Only eight percent of Americans polled in 2014 wanted the United States to lead the world militarily. But that 8 percent won out. That’s plutocracy.

According to Gareth Porter of the Washington Spectator the real reason for the Iran crisis was that the CIA and Pentagon desperately needed to replace the former Soviet threat with another crisis in order to continue Cold War levels of military spending and profitability. A great deal of evidence support this theory.

We have spent an estimated trillion dollars or so a year on “defense” related expenses and continuous wars ever since we were bombed September 9, 2011.

Almost 7000 American lives have been lost in wars since 9/11. Thousands of active duty soldiers and reservists have committed suicide. While medical advances and body armor resulted in a high survival rates, huge numbers were wounded; sixteen thousand soldiers in Iraq alone. Denise Grady wrote for the New York Times that survivors’ wounds are often multiple and awful combinations of damaged brains and spinal cords, vision and hearing loss, disfigured faces, burns, amputations, mangled limbs. Not to mention horrible psychological diseases like depression and post-traumatic stress. Treating the wounded, often for their lifetimes, is also very expensive.

In 2012 the United States spent more on defense than the next ten highest spending countries combined; China, Russia, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, Italy and Brazil. Most of these ten are our allies, giving us overwhelming superiority over any possible enemies.

Where is the money going? Well, profits from weapons manufacturing are enormous. That’s a huge incentive to buy more and more. And that’s what we’re doing.

We already have 68 nuclear submarines. But you can’t have too many so we’re buying more for about $2.6 billion each.

Consider the F35 airplane. It has been under construction for almost fifteen years and is now almost a decade behind schedule. But it catches fire, and spews toxic fumes and its stealth technology is easily defeated. Nonetheless the United States plans to buy 245 of them. Total estimated cost is over $1,000,000,000,000. For that amount of money, we could give free tuition to college for every student in the United States who wanted it for twenty years .

By the way, F35s are not the sort of weapons you need for terrorists. Neither are the submarines and aircraft carriers we have. So just whom are we planning to fight anyway?

Speaking of trillions, we now have a nuclear weapons modernization program that is estimated to cost $1 trillion over 30 years. Meanwhile we spend about $17 billion annually just maintaining the nuclear weapons we already have. Each of them is 20 times as powerful as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, so we have enough to destroy all life on earth several times over. And consider this: it has been said that to accept nuclear weapons’ continued existence is to accept their eventual use.

We have 5300 operational nuclear warheads. Why? We’re buying 277 F22 Raptors for $258 million each, although no other country could possibly challenge the planes we already have. Why? We have over 700 military bases in foreign countries. Why?  Other countries don’t have bases in America. We have spent $80 billion, $10.4 billion this year alone, on an anti-ballistic missile system which critics say will never work. Why? What evil nation do we think might commit suicide by shooting a missile at us anyway?

In 2015 Special Operations forces were sent to 147 countries (that’s 70% of the countries on the planet), a 145% increase from the days of George Bush.

Pentagon waste and pork, estimated at $100 billion a year by the Cato Institute, account for as much as one third of military expenditures by some estimates. The Nation describes the military as the largest source of waste, fraud and mismanagement in the federal government. The Tacoma News Tribune refers to “atrocious financial management.” A recent year’s Pentagon budget included 2000 items of Congressional pork, which were not even requested by the military; they benefitted the constituencies of members of Congress. The General Accounting Office finds the Defense Department’s books such a mess they refuse to audit them. William D. Hartung says the accounting mismanagement is not a matter of sloppy bookkeeping but a maneuver to make it impossible for anyone to hold the Pentagon accountable for anything. And did you notice: neither Presidential candidate dared mention military budgets in campaigning for election.

I could go on and on but won’t. Except I can’t resist telling you that the Pentagon owns 234 golf courses around the world.


by Ted Sanford, WWII Navy Veteran

(edited for the web)

Find complete version in Adbusters #133

Lets consider the wars we have fought since 1965 and our degrees of succes:


In 1965 we invaded Vietnam…


Fifteen years. Thats the length of our war against the Taliban …


Finally we chose to give up Afghanistan temporarily in order to invade Iraq.

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