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It’s Time To Debate Pentagon Spending – OpEd


By William D. Hartung*

Despite hopes to the contrary, the Pentagon’s new, $740 billion-plus budget will waste scarce tax dollars while making America less safe. With the presidential primaries accelerating, it’s time for the candidates to address this urgent issue.

This extraordinary spending has a direct impact on American taxpayers when it comes at the expense of diplomacy, education, and anti-poverty programs that can improve people’s lives. These programs create more jobs than buying weapons we don’t need at prices we can’t afford, but they’re facing deep cuts.

There is a better way to protect the nation without breaking the bank.

The Center for International Policy’s Sustainable Defense Task Force has created a blueprint for defense that would save $1.25 trillion from current Pentagon plans over the next decade — while providing a greater measure of security, not less.

The plan would cut the size of the active military by about 10 percent, in line with a policy that forgoes nation building and large-scale counterinsurgency operations of the kind undertaken in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would also roll back the Pentagon’s $1.7 trillion, three-decades long nuclear weapons buildup, and eliminate excess Pentagon bureaucracy, including its massive force of over 600,000 private contractors.

A new strategy is urgently needed.

As the Costs of War Project at Brown University has shown, America’s post-9/11 wars have cost us some $6.4 trillion, a sum that could have gone far in rebuilding America, underwriting high-paying jobs, and funding investments in alternative energy sources that would help stave off the worst impacts of climate change.

Those funds are gone. But we can at least pursue a more restrained strategy that ensures that we don’t make the same mistake again.

There’s more than money involved. Again and again, aggression has made us less safe.

The chaos caused by the U.S. invasion of Iraq led to the rise of ISIS, as did the corruption and sectarianism of a series of U.S.-backed regimes in that nation.

A nuclear buildup of the kind envisioned by the Pentagon will stoke a new nuclear arms race, when even a fraction of the current U.S. arsenal would deter any nation from attacking the United States.

And a failure to seek areas of cooperation with Russia and China, from arms control to joint efforts to mitigate climate change, will make war — or at a minimum a new Cold War — more likely, to the detriment of all concerned.

It’s time for the candidates for president to step up and address this failed strategy that has led to overspending on the Pentagon at the expense of other urgent national needs. There have been some efforts made to raise the issue, but much more needs to be done.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has called for the elimination of the Pentagon’s war budget at a savings of up to $800 billion over the next decade. Senator Bernie Sanders has pointed to the important domestic investments that could occur if Pentagon spending were reduced.

Joe Biden’s platform calls for ending America’s “forever wars” and reviving nuclear arms control, measures consistent with reductions in Pentagon spending. Pete Buttigieg hasn’t stated whether the Pentagon budget should be reduced, although he has sensibly pointed out that any spending should be aligned with a new strategy.

These positions should be just the beginning of a robust conversation on the future of American national security strategy and spending that needs to begin as soon as possible.

*William D. Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. This op-ed was distributed by

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One thought on “It’s Time To Debate Pentagon Spending – OpEd

  • February 29, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    The USA has created Daesh for destroying Iraq and Syria as an initial plan. This idea was introudced by Obama and Clinton. The goals were to re-occupy Iraq for oil and to loot Syrian oil. Along with these benefits the plan was to control natural gas and to close the road from China. Important goal behind the creation of Daesh was to provide full security for Israel to dominate the Middle East, For Afghanistan, the occupation of the country was for looting opium, lithium, and building oil pipe-line. Both occupied country will contain the Islamic Republic of Iran. In short, Daesh is an alternative force for the USA to control nations and this army of terrorists will protect American forces and die for the US forces. The USA will cut causalties.
    Currently, the USA protect AL-Qaeda terrorists in Idlib, Syria. Erdogan is using these terrorists to occupy more Arab countries such as Iraq, Libya, along with North Syria. Both the USA and Turkey along with the UN and other countries are defending AL-Qaeda in Syria and Libya.
    It follows that the USA and the terrorists who committed the terrorist attacks of September 11 have an organic relationship to have mutual support. These relations justify the outcome that there is no need to spend 1.2 trillion and more on the military budget. But this conclusion is not rational in the USA because the Military Industril Complex, oil companies, and the Drug oligopoly are spending massive amount of funds to affect elections and politicians. In addition, the massive military spending is used to create more wars for natural resources to prosper companies and finally the military spending creates deficit which is used to reduce and cut social programs.
    In my opinion the American people can create these changes and no president can do it. And no one knows when that change happens, given the facts that education is being downgraded and the Media works to control people’s mind.


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