How Much Is Enough?

In 2014, the US spent $612.5 billion on defense. Although numerous sources have reported that this number exceeds the military budgets of the next 12 biggest spenders combined, I find that most people still have trouble getting their minds around the number and even more difficulty putting it into perspective.

So let’s look at it another way. In 2014, the US and its closest known allies spent an astonishing $1.15 trillion on defense.

Meanwhile our known “enemy” nation states of North Korea and Iran spent a total of $13.8 billion. If we add Pakistan, which is home to many extreme jihadists, and our one-time enemies who are now close trading partners (China and Russia), our potential adversaries (at least theoretically) spent a grand total of $223.4 billion on defense. Combined, that is little more than one-third of the US defense budget alone, and roughly one-fifth of the combined military budgets of the US and its close allies.

The US and its allies not only spend more money than the so-called rogue nations and the former communist bloc. They have more weapons of every kind; more sophisticated weaponry; and the financial means to build ever newer and better weapons. This is, of course, great comfort to our military-industrial complex consisting of Boeing, Halliburton, General Dynamics, General Electric, Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon and more.

It is, however, small comfort to US taxpayers who are expected to pay for this ever-growing budget item, especially since the only real threats to our homeland appear to come from relatively small groups of terrorists whose weaponry consists of handguns, AK47s, IEDs and captured weaponry that we previously sold to corrupt or failed governments.

Take into account that the costs of the Afghan War, the Iraq War, the war against ISIS, military aid to other countries, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and veterans’ benefits are paid for out of budget line items separate from our defense budget, and you quickly discover that the vast majority of our taxes now go to defense. Yet the Department of Defense is asking for significant increases for 2015 and 2016, and it’s almost certain to get them.

One can only conclude that we are the most gullible, most paranoid people on Earth.