Although 57 percent of the U.S. public now believes
that sending troops to Iraq was a mistake, the military budget request that
President George W. Bush submitted to Congress is the largest since World War
II and little money is earmarked for domestic security.
The budget requests 623 billion dollars for military spending for fiscal year
2008, which begins Oct. 1. Defense Department officials say budgets in future
years might reflect considerable increases of that figure, based on the rationale
that military spending currently represents only a small percentage of national
gross domestic product (GDP).
"It seems odd that we're even talking about the size of the private economy
(which GDP partly reflects) since the private economy isn't funding the military.
We should be looking at the amount of public dollars available for investment,"
Miriam Pemberton, research fellow at Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF, a joint
project of the center-left thinktanks Institute for Policy Studies and International
Relations Center), told IPS. Military spending "is now over 50 percent
of the discretionary budget," she said.
This budget, submitted in February, reflects the Bush doctrine's policies of
broad unilateral military action, which, according to a report released Thursday
by FPIF, "prescribes an expansive, global role for the military, one that
even current levels of spending don't come to close to covering."
The FPIF's "Report of the Task Force on a Unified Security Budget for
the United States" for fiscal year 2008 points to the Bush doctrine of
building military size and spending because "we can," but that doesn't
ask the question of if "we should."
The report's task force included former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence
J. Korb, retired Lt. Gen. Robert G. Gard Jr. and William Johnstone, who served
as a professional staff member on the 9/11 Commission that investigated the
Sep. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.
The 2008 budget appears to ignore both the recommendations of the Iraq Study
Group report, which promoted a shift from a foreign policy strategy of military
force to diplomacy, and the latest polls which show that the U.S. public believes
the current unilateral foreign policy is eroding U.S. standing around the world
and made the country more susceptible to terrorist attacks.
FPIF advocates a unified security budget (USB) which would pull together all
the U.S. security tools including military forces, homeland security and preventative
nonmilitary international engagement. This would make it easier for Congress
to evaluate overall security spending and make the best allocation of resources.
The report voices concern with several security tradeoffs proposed within the
For example, the F-22 fighter jet program the strategic necessity of
which has been seriously questioned is receiving a funding increase of
over 600 million dollars in the 2008 budget.
That 600 million dollars could triple the amount the U.S. plans to spend on
canceling debts of poor countries, or could increase by 50 percent U.S. contributions
to international peacekeeping operations. Or it could more than triple the amount
budgeted in 2007 for domestic rail and transit security programs.
FPIF also points to the 800-million-dollar budget for offensive space weapons,
which some believe could lead to a new arms race. That sum could have doubled
the originally requested budget for the State Department's Office of Reconstruction
and Stabilization a corps of civilian experts in post-conflict rebuilding
envisioned for Iraq and other locations which has been publicly supported
by the Pentagon.
Security tradeoffs in line with the Bush doctrine have consistently overlooked
nonmilitary security and foreign policy expenses, says the FPIF's report.
"(Vice President) Cheney and others have put together this whole plan
that says the answer is to be the sole superpower and maintain such a level
of military superiority that no other country will even think about challenging
us. But then you get the question of how much is enough?" said Pemberton,
principal author of the report.
The proposed 2008 national security budget allocates 90 percent of funds to
military expenditures while preventive programs. receive four percent and the
Department of Homeland Security receives six percent.
The task force advocates a 56-billion-dollar cut in offensive military spending
and a 50-billion-dollar increase on deface and prevention, which would convert
a militarized 9-to-1 security budget ratio to a balance of 5-to-1.
While military spending remains a high priority in the national security budget,
the State Department has resorted to receiving private donations to subsidize
its nonproliferation programs. such as the five million dollars of private money
paid for the removal of highly enriched uranium from Serbia.
"It was embarrassing (but) we needed the money," said a State Department
official quoted in the report.
(Inter Press Service)