A Wasteful, Bloated
[FY2003] Military Budget

No Way to Advance Peace or Human Security

Friends Committee on National Legislation, March 2002


The U.S. is spending about $1.8 billion per month to fight the war against terror in Afghanistan. Now, President Bush is asking Congress for almost $4Q0 billion to expand the war on terror and to create a global U.S. military power that can dominate in any future conflict. This would be a $46 billion increase over fiscal year 2002 (FY2002). This includes the following:

Department of Defense $378.5 billion
Dept. of Energy nuclear weapons programs 15.4 billion
Military-related activities of other agencies 1.4 billion
Foreign military aid and training 3.8 billion
Subtotal (budget authority) 399.1 billion

This includes $7.8 billion to build a ballistic missile shield and $8.0 billion to maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Add the mandatory payments for military retirement and retiree health care programs ($32.9 billion), and the total FY2003 budget authority will exceed $432 billion.

A Wasteful, Bloated Military Budget By Any Measure

This budget would spend about three times the combined military budgets of all potential U.S. military adversaries (Russia, China, Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, Syria), and it would exceed the combined expenditure of the next 25 military powers. The next five military powers would spend the following (in billions): Russia--$60; China--$42; Japan--$40; United Kingdom--$34; Saudi Arabia--$27 (Source: Center for Defense-Information).

This Is No Way to Peace and Human Security

War, threats of war, and a bloated, wasteful military budget will not bring an end to international terrorism or the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) around the world. Nor will these policies advance true human security. Expanding the war against terror to Iraq, Colombia, and the Philippines will only compound the assault on humanity that occurred on September 11 and in the war in Afghanistan. Threatening war against Iran, North Korea, and others will only stimulate more fear, hatred, violence, and suffering, and it may, in fact, contribute to the proliferation of WMD. Building a military capacity to dominate the globe will only provoke other countries and groups with grievances against the U.S. to resist in kind with violence. At a time when the capacity to build and use WMD is spreading, such provocative, dangerous policies will only aggravate and escalate the current violence and human suffering.

The Root Causes of Violence and War: Poverty, Oppression, Ignorance

The U.S. must seek another way to advance peace and human security--a way that addresses the root causes of violence, strengthens the international rule of law, demonstrates respect for human rights, and breaks the cycle of violence. Traditions, beliefs, and structures which are precursors to war must be changed if we hope to prevent violence in the future. These precursors include economic deprivation, structural inequity, oppressive power, greed, prejudice, and war itself.

The UN Development Programme's Human Development Report 2001 provides a snapshot of these conditions around the world:

* More than 854 million adults are illiterate, including 543 million women;
* Over 960 million people lack access to improved water resources;
* 325 million children do not attend school, including 183 million girls;
* 11 million children under five die each year from preventable diseases;
* 1.2 billion people live on less than $1 a day, and 2.8 billion live on less than $2 a day; and
* Employment and economic growth in Arab countries has lagged well behind all but the poorest countries in Africa over the past decade.

Shift Military Spending to Address the Root Causes of War

The President's budget would do relatively little to address these conditions.

* The U.S. government ranks last among developed countries in terms of the percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product that it allocates for international development (0.11%).
* Outlays for all foreign assistance programs in FY2003 (including strategic economic aid to Israel, Egypt, former Soviet Republics, Colombia, and anti-narcotics programs) will comprise only 0.55% of all federal outlays (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).
* The President would spend more on the national ballistic missile shield ($7.8 billion) than he would for international humanitarian and development assistance ($7.6 billion). (This amount does not include "strategic economic aid" mentioned in the previous item.).
* The President would increase humanitarian and development assistance by only $0.7 billion for FY2003, while he would increase military spending by 65 times that amount ($46 billion).

New budget priorities are needed to help address the root causes of violence, reduce terrorism, and prevent deadly conflicts. At a minimum, the U.S. should triple its current meager commitment to international development and humanitarian assistance programs such as child disease and survival, food aid, refugee assistance, multilateral development banks, Peace Corps, USAID operations, voluntary contributions to international organizations, debt relief, and other development and humanitarian aid.

For greatest impact, U.S. aid should be channeled through the UN and other multilateral agencies to people and countries where it is needed the most. Programs should be designed a) to maximize local community participation in planning and implementation; b) to build on the indigenous strengths, knowledge, and assets of local communities; c) to foster long-term economic self-sufficiency; and d) to minimize harm to the environment. This extra expenditure could be offset easily by cutting the wasteful, dangerous, and provocative ballistic missile shield and nuclear weapons programs.

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