Military Spending Soars to
Friends Committee of National
Washington Newsletter, April 2002
Pres. Bush's $2.1 trillion budget request
for fiscal year 2003 (FY03) includes nearly $400 billion in discretionary
budget authority for the military. Both the full House and the
Senate Budget Committee matched this request in their respective
drafts of the budget resolution. The U.S. will be spending more
on the military now than it did during the Cold War. (The average
annual military spending between 1946 and 1991, in constant 2002
dollars, was $344.1 billion.)
Total military spending (i.e. total budget
authority) for FY03 will be considerably higher. In addition to
the nearly $400 billion in discretionary spending, nearly $32
billion more must be allocated for mandatory spending to cover
military retirement benefits and health care for current employees.
Total discretionary funds in the President's
$2.1 trillion request amount to $767 billion. Military spending
thus accounts for more than half of the discretionary spending.
The balance will be divided up among all domestic programs, international
affairs, and government. The commitment of such a large proportion
of the nation's resources to military spending impacts drastically
on other spending.
Spiraling military spending
The growth in U.S. military spending is
out of control. The President's FY03 request represents a 12%
increase over current spending. This comes despite the drop in
global military spending from $1.2 trillion (1985) to $812 billion
(2000). During that same time period, the U.S. share of global
military spending rose from 31% to 36%. Since 2000, U.S. military
spending has continued to rise. The FY03 increase adds to the
growing disproportion. The following comparisons provide some
perspective for U.S. military spending. (Source: Center for Defense
* The FY03 military budget exceeds the
combined military spending of the next 25 nations. Russia, which
has the second highest military budget, spent $60 billion on its
military in 2000 (the latest year for which data are available).
* The FY03 military budget request is
more than 26 times the combined spending of the seven most likely
U.S. adversaries. The Pentagon has identified these countries
as Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.
Military strength, no matter how great,
cannot assure national security. National and global security
are enhanced by measures that relieve the extreme economic inequities
around the world and enable peoples in all nations to be self-reliant
in meeting their human needs. It is towards these ends that the
U.S. should budget its resources.