Higher Military Spending Will Save Democracy

So says the "liberal" New York Times

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Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

Three days ago, I got a story in my New York Times email feed on “A Turning Point in Military Spending.” The article celebrated the greater willingness of NATO members as well as countries like Japan to spend more on military weaponry, which, according to the “liberal” NYT, will help to preserve democracy. Interestingly, even as NATO members have started to spend more, the Pentagon is still demanding yet higher budgets, abetted by Congress. I thought if NATO spent more, the USA could finally spend less?

No matter. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as the hyping of what used to be called the “Yellow Peril,” today read “China,” is ensuring record military spending in the USA as yearly Pentagon budgets approach $900 billion. That figure does not include the roughly $120 billion or more in aid already provided to Ukraine in its war with Russia. And since the Biden administration’s commitment to Ukraine remains open-ended, you can add scores of billion more to that sum if the war persists into the fall and winter.

Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times piece that I found especially humorous in a grim way:

[Admittedly,] The additional money that countries spend on defense is money they cannot spend on roads, child care, cancer research, refugee resettlement, public parks or clean energy, my colleague Patricia points out. One reason Macron has insisted on raising France’s retirement age despite widespread protests, analysts believe, is a need to leave more money for the military.

But the situation [in Europe of spending more on butter than guns] over the past few decades feels unsustainable. Some of the world’s richest countries were able to spend so much on social programs partly because another country – the U.S. – was paying for their defense. Those other countries, sensing a more threatening world, are now once again promising to pull their weight. They still need to demonstrate that they’ll follow through this time.

Yes, Europe could continue to invest in better roads, cleaner energy, and the like, but now it’s time to buckle down and build more weapons. Stop freeloading, Europe! Dammit, “pull your weight”! You’ve had better and cheaper health care than Americans, stellar educational systems, child care benefits galore, all sorts of social programs we Americans can only dream of, but that’s because we’ve been paying for it! Captain America’s shield has been protecting you on the cheap! Time to pay up, you Germans, you French, you Italians, and especially you cheap Spaniards.

Look at all those cheap Spaniards. They have good stuff because of Captain America. Freeloaders! (NYT Chart, 7/12/23)

As the NYT article says: NATO allies need to “follow through this time” on strengthening their militaries. Because strong militaries produce democracy. And European “investments” in arms will ensure more equitable burden sharing in funding stronger cages and higher barriers to deter a rampaging Russian bear.

Again, you Americans out there, that doesn’t mean we can spend less on “defense.” What it means is that the US can “pivot to Asia” and spend more on weaponry to “deter” China. Because as many neocons say, the real threat is Xi, not Putin.

We have met the enemy, and he is us. That’s an old saying you won’t see in the “liberal” NYT.

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.

43 thoughts on “Higher Military Spending Will Save Democracy”

  1. Higher military spending will not save democracy. In school, we have been taught the lie that democracies do not start unprovoked wars and all authoritarian regimes are warmongering regimes.
    During the 19th Century, the US was a democracy, Japan and Spain were authoritarian. Spain did nothing to the US and the US started the Spanish American War and took Spain’s last colonies in the W Hemisphere and Pacific, said it would promote democracy in Cuba and crushed a rebellion in the Philippines. Japan did nothing to the USA, the USA invaded Japan to make it trade with the USA.
    During the Gulf War, the US and UK were democracies and Iraq was authoritarian, Iraq did nothing to either of those two countries and they declared war on Iraq to control the world’s oil supply, bombed Iraq from their bases in the No Fly Zones after the war ended and before the Iraq War began and had the UN impose sanctions that led to starvation of the Iraqis which Madeleine Albright said “was worth it”.
    If military spending saved democracy, Russia would have become a democracy from the amount of money it spent during the Cold War.

    1. “the US was a democracy”

      My perspective is that the US has always been a “DINO” (Democracy In Name Only). While we have had some degree of democratic elections, those elections made little difference in terms of actual policy. The rhetoric differed somewhat between the different parties and candidates, but the policies, particularly foreign policies, continued to be unabated warfare and corporatism. Those actually setting the policies are not the same as those winning the elections, and if it were even possible for an election winner to significantly change policy, it would be guaranteed that such a person would not win the election.

      Now we have a censorship regime as well, and, even though to some extent it is being exposed, it is being couched in partisan terms (“If you’re not with us, you’re MAGA”). Until people see that both parties are in cahoots, and, that even if they weren’t, there is no way either could break the stranglehold of the permanent state, no progress can be made. When you can be censored even for bringing up the subject of the dangers of censorship, it is very late indeed.

      1. There are just 16 years in the existence of America when we have not been at war, somewhere on earth. Not exactly a great legacy.

        1. “There are just 16 years in the existence of America when we have not been at war, somewhere on earth. ”

          Yes, the “wars to end all wars” seem to be the “wars to perpetuate all wars.”

    2. Just curious Pink, but have you always been “pinkprince500?” I don’t remember the 500 before in your screen name. I just recently discovered our friend Luchorpan now calls himself “Luchorpan2,” but he adopted the “2” because he says his original account had been hacked. Is it something like that or was I simply unobservant before?

  2. We must protect our markets.
    Politicians know their constituents want cheap “chickens” (goods) in every pot and as long as they do not connect the huge federal budget that is a hidden cost to that low sticker price, they get re-elected.

  3. Basing military spending on country’s GDP is a load of bullshit. What on earth does it have to do will how much military spending is needed for any particular country? Zilch.

    1. Yeah, that’s one of my pet peeves as well. The length of the US border hasn’t changed since 1959 (unless maybe there were a few miles renegotiated with Canada or Mexico here and there, which I guess is possible). Why would it cost more “as a percentage of GDP” to defend now than it did then?

      1. It is the same for college tuition. Why does it cost so much more when courses are presented in the same manner as 100 years ago. The difference is more adjunct professors are used (at less pay). Higher cost does not mean better education (or educators). Corporate education is what I call it. I know it is off subject, but the subject of tuition is a concern of mine.

        1. Not entirely off topic. By keeping students deeply in debt with high costs of college, they ensure that students won’t protest things like all the U.S. wars for empire, because the students know that they have to focus on getting good jobs when they get out of college or they’re screwed.

    2. It’s about how much the U.S. military/industrial complex can force other countries to spend.

  4. Wasn’t democracy such a wonderful government system that everyone would adopt it as soon as they had the chance? I mean, you can’t have it both ways. Either democracy is so wonderful that it doesn’t need to be defended, or if it really needs to be defended with vast amounts of weapons, then you really have to ask if this “democracy” that you have is so great.

    1. Defending (or spreading) democracy does not mean blowing up the target countries.

  5. Higher military spending does not make us safer. If the higher military spending is to preserve democracy, protect citizens, my question is how. Going all over the world in search of monsters to destroy only makes more enemies. I guess that is the plan.

  6. But the situation [in Europe of spending more on butter than guns] over the past few decades feels unsustainable.

    The level of idiocy of that statement is astounding. You can’t make this stuff up.

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