Global Day of Action on Military Spending

April 12, 2011

For decades, the “Stockholm International Peace Research Institute” has annually issued what is regarded as the foremost assessment on global military spending. On Tuesday, April 12—the release date of the Institute’s 2011 statistical report—“A Global Day of Action on Military Spending” is being held around the world to to focus international attention on the $1.6 trillion now being annually squandered on war-making. Conceived by the Nobel Prize-winning “International Peace Bureau” (the oldest international peace federation, founded in 1891) and the Institute for Policy Studies (based in Washington, D.C.), the global day of action has been endorsed by host of U.S. organizations, including Peace Action, Pax Christi, FOR, Global Exchange, the National Priorities Project (and our own Nebraskans for Peace).

The biggest culprit in this costly (and deadly) enterprise is, of course, the United States.

Our government’s military-related expenditures annually account for $1 trillion of that $1.6 trillion global total. (The Pentagon budget in 2010 totaled over $700 billion. Additional funding for Homeland Security, the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons research program, the FBI’s ‘counter-terrorism’ activities, NASA’s spy satellite surveillance, the CIA, foreign arms sales and interest on the military-related share of the federal debt push the annual price tag over $1 trillion.)

  • All told, we are currently spending $3 billion a day on the military—roughly equal to what state government in Nebraska spends in a year.
  • Over half (59 percent) of every federal tax dollar goes to fund some military function of the U.S. government.
  • U.S. military spending is greater than the rest of the nations of the world combined. (The second-highest nation—China—spends a tenth of what the U.S. spends and hasn’t got a single foreign military base.)
  • Finally—by the Pentagon’s own admission—it cannot account for 25 percent of what it spends. (Way back in 2002, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged that the Department of Defense “cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions.”)

If our politicians are serious about reducing the federal deficit, they can start by cutting the Pentagon budget in half. It should be at the top of the list, because they couldn’t find a more glaring example of waste, fraud and abuse.

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