Welfare For The Rich – OpEd

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Why does the US military budget keep skyrocketing? The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2024 passed in December came in at a whopping $841.1 billion, and that’s just part of the total amount that will be spent on military-related issues this year. Just this weekend, for example, the Senate cleared the way for a nearly $100 billion in additional spending to boost the military capabilities of Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan!

What do we get for all that spending? A military that can do whatever it takes to defend the United States? A military whose mere formidable existence acts as a deterrent to any would-be invaders of our geographically unique country surrounded by a massive moat? We shouldn’t be naive! 

What we do get for the overall well-over-a-trillion in yearly military spending is…a hollowed-out military that doesn’t even have enough ammunition to defend the United States!

We get a military that is so unattractive to young people that they have had to make radical reforms in desperate attempt to recover from the recruiting death-spiral – including, in the US Navy at least, abandoning the requirement to have any educational credential at all, including a high school diploma or GED. Prospective US Navy personnel need only score 50 or above out of 99 on the notoriously rudimentary ASVAB test (that means with a score of 50% – which in the real world is a failing grade – you’re in!).

But surely for all those billions we are getting weapons that are absolutely crushing it on the battlefield? Not exactly. As we have seen for two years on the Ukraine battlefield of the US proxy war against Russia, each new “wonder weapon” sent by the Pentagon – starting with Javelins and continuing through HIMARS, Bradley fighting vehicles, M1A1 Abrams tanks, and even the new Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bombs (which are so new the Pentagon itself doesn’t yet have them in its arsenal) – is quickly defeated by Russian counter-measures. 

Even the rabidly pro-war and anti-Russia Washington Post – the Pravda of our regime – is admitting that Ukraine is headed for defeat. The Pentagon – and NATO – has sent all they had into Ukraine to fight Russia and still it is losing. 

How could it be that we spend orders of magnitude more on the military than a country like Russia and still are being bettered on the battlefield? It is not that our servicemembers are sub-par or that the US is incapable of technical and industrial innovation. 

The problem is very different. It has to do with a deeply broken system that serves not US security, but special interests.

Here’s but one good example: After spending more than two billion dollars to develop the next generation scout helicopter, the Pentagon made a surprise announcement last week that it was cancelling the entire Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program. The FARA program was launched in 2018 and rather than pick a winner to fund and develop, the Pentagon decided to fund both the winner and the runner-up. So both the Bell-Textron with the 360 Invictus and Sikorsky with its Raider X were funded and developed these past five years with more than two billion dollars and…suddenly…the Pentagon said, “never mind.”

Will the US taxpayer get a refund on all that money spent? Not on your life! The bulk of that money didn’t go to develop a helicopter, rest assured. This was a two billion dollar pay-off to the military-industrial complex. Welfare for the rich Beltway bandits. Walking around money for the thousands of armchair general think-tankers pushing invented threats and a Russian or Chinese under every bed. And don’t forget those Eye-rainians!

That money went jingle-jangle into every bank account of the “yes” votes on Capitol Hill. And don’t forget plenty for the lobbyists…

We spend billions and get nothing for it. The system is broken.

I guess we shouldn’t worry, though. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has assured us that we can “certainly” afford to bankroll major wars in BOTH Ukraine and Israel. I am sure they can find enough somewhere to fight China as well. 

We are led, it seems, by the proverbial drunk in the bar, challenging everyone and everything to a fight with no purpose or sense of self-awareness. Somewhere, somehow, we must break through to make the case for a truly strong America that is confident enough and – yes – strong enough to STOP going abroad seeking monsters to destroy. There are plenty of monsters far closer to home…

This article was published at RonPaul Institute

Daniel McAdams

Daniel McAdams is the Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and co-Producer/co-Host, Ron Paul Liberty Report. Daniel served as the foreign affairs, civil liberties, and defense/intel policy advisor to U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, MD (R-Texas) from 2001 until Dr. Paul’s retirement at the end of 2012. From 1993-1999 he worked as a journalist based in Budapest, Hungary, and traveled through the former communist bloc as a human rights monitor and election observer.

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