War Dividends: The Pentagon Budget Keeps Soaring Up, Up, and Away!

Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and the Cold War ended, I heard a lot about peace dividends. It was time to become a normal country in normal (more peaceful) times, said Jeanne Kirkpatrick, an early neocon who served under Ronald Reagan. More than thirty years later, America still awaits its peace dividends from the Cold War.

When the Afghan War came to a sputtering and ignominious end in 2021, I didn’t hear much at all about peace dividends. Even though the Afghan War was costing the United States almost $50 billion a year before it crashed and burned, the Pentagon budget for 2022 went up by that amount rather than down. You’d think the end of wars would lead to a decrease in military spending, but not in America.

And so we come to today, when I learned that the Pentagon budget for 2023, which sat at $802 billion per the request of the Biden administration, has been boosted big time to $847 billion by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. That’s $45 billion extra for more wars and weapons, a whopping sum of money that would likely end homelessness if it was invested in America.

One thing is certain: war dividends always come through. Peace dividends? Not so much.

How does the Washington Beltway crowd justify such enormous sums for “national defense”? Threat inflation, of course. Because of its debilitating war with Ukraine, Russia is weaker but somehow that means America must spend more because Putin or something. Chinese maneuvers near Taiwan are treated like direct incursions into U.S. coastal waters. A few North Korean missiles are enough to justify more than a trillion dollars for new or revamped nuclear forces over the next thirty years. And of course military Keynesianism is always a factor, as in Pentagon-related jobs spread as widely as possible through every Congressional district.

The Pentagon can’t even pass an audit (for the fifth year in a row!), yet it still gets more and more billions from you the taxpayer.

I took a quick look at NBC News online to see if there were any objections to this massive $847 billion budget for the Pentagon. The only story featured warned that “GOP senators threaten to delay military bill over vaccine mandate.” Yes, what’s truly worrisome is that a few troops might have to accept a COVID vaccine against their will. Geez, where were these senators when the military was jabbing me in the arm every year with a mandatory flu vaccine?

Trees are falling in the forest to print all the money the Pentagon wants (and then some), but few Americans hear a sound since the mainstream media refuses to cover wasteful military spending and disastrous American wars.

If you should want a sure bet in America, don’t toss money at your favorite sports team. Place your bet on America’s war horse. Whether it wins, places, or shows, or even comes up lame, it will always pay dividends.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools. He writes at Bracing Views.

12 thoughts on “War Dividends: The Pentagon Budget Keeps Soaring Up, Up, and Away!”

      1. Next year? I wouldn’t be surprised if the U.S. already spends one trillion dollars, if you include all the black budget and other secret money that they don’t tell us about.

        1. No doubt that overall, it’s over a trillion. But I’m talking the number they do give us. It might make it to 2025. If we, as a people, do.

  1. Right on the money article!

    NOVEMBER 22, 2022 The Pentagon fails its fifth audit in a row

    If the Defense Department can’t get its books straight, how can it be trusted with a budget of more than $800 billion per year?


    November 15, 2022 The USA’s Military Empire: A Visual Database. World Beyond War

    The United States of America, unlike any other nation, maintains a massive network of foreign military installations around the world.


  2. Why even pretend to put a cap on MIC spending. They just raise it every year with no limit anyways and then appropriate MORE money than what the MIC ask for. Unlimited money for war, no money for anything else. I’m so sick of seeing 1 ER visit putting people into medical debt, or driving over huge potholes that destroy my wheel. Or for the people Jackson, Flint, and now even Houston who has BOIL water (if that is not third world enough for you)?! But more money for bombs! Yay!

    1. The US military budget process reminds me of a bit of dialogue from the 1979 (X-rated) movie Caligula:

      CALIGULA: I want a bonus for my guards.
      LONGINUS: But Caesar, that’s not possible.
      CALIGULA: All things that happen are possible, Longinus. Make the impossible happen and it will be possible. Logical?
      LONGINUS: How, Caesar? The deficit, you see is …
      CALIGULA: Look, how much is my allowance?
      LONGINUS: Well, lord, that is as much as you may require.

  3. When the Soviet Union disbanded, we were told we were going to get a peace dividend. The military/intelligence/industrial complex quickly started recruiting more countries into NATO so that it would not lose any money, because NATO countries have to maintain a minimum level of weapons.

    The U.S. is so corrupt it’s beyond words. It’s run by the rich and their corporations, including arms manufacturers. There is no excuse for spending anywhere near as much as the U.S. spends on the military or intelligence, nor for having foreign military bases. I guess the excuse is that these things are needed to maintain the U.S. empire, but that’s not legitimate either.

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