Increase Military Spending?

JusticeWatch May 2000

from NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby



1. Defense spending has declined since the 1980s.

2. Even though the Cold War is over and the Soviet Union is no longer a threat, the U.S. still faces threats from smaller "rogue" nations (North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Cuba, Libya, Sudan, and Syria.)

3. U.S. military forces must be ready to fight (and quickly win) two major regional wars at the same time.

4. Readiness will decline if funds are not increased for training and equipment.

5. There are many long-term demands on U.S. troops, such as peacekeeping in the Balkans.

6. The armed services have problems recruiting and retaining qualified personnel, due to low pay and benefits. Some military personnel qualify for food stamps.

7. Increased spending will enable ailing defense contractors to keep their factories open, and retain jobs at military bases around the country.

8. National security is our nation's first priority.



1. Even though military spending has declined since 1989 (the peak year for spending before the Cold War ended), U.S. share of total worldwide military spending has increased from 30% to 34% of the total. (Based on 1997 figures.) Military spending by the U.S. and its allies (NATO, Japan, South Korea) account for 60% of total worldwide military spending.

2. The U.S. spends 18 times the combined military budgets of the "rogue" nations and twice as much as the rogue nations plus Russia and China.

3. The current two-war strategy is unrealistic-it assumes that we would fight two simultaneous wars with no help from our allies.

4. The rhetoric about "readiness" may not accurately reflect reality. The fact that U.S. forces were overwhelmingly superior to the opposition in the last two wars (Iraq and Yugoslavia), seems to contradict the idea that our forces may not be ready.

5. If the budgets for foreign aid and diplomacy were more in balance with the military budget, there would be a better chance of preventing conflict and avoiding military involvement.

6. Enlisted men and women who are struggling to support their families should receive a fair wage and adequate housing and health care-as should all people who work. Money would be available for these needs if the Pentagon improved its financial management systems to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse and shifted money from weapons procurement to personnel.

7. One billion dollars creates 25,000 jobs in weapons manufacturing; but that same $1 billion could create 50,000 jobs in health care or 40,000 jobs in education. If Congress would agree to the Pentagon's request to close unnecessary bases, this could ultimately save $3 billion per year and convert the bases to more productive economic use.

8. National security means mote than military power. To sustain a secure nation, federal spending must be balanced among military defense, diplomacy, and programs that provide economic security, such as education, health care, and job training.

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