The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
— Thomas Jefferson —
We spend more on military expenditures — by far — than anyone in the entire world. In fact, we spend about as much on our military as the next ten largest-spending countries combined. Our military spending reached $766.58 billion in 2020, and it just keeps increasing every year. In December 2021, President Biden signed into law $777.7 billion worth of military spending.
With that level of spending — surprise, surprise — here come the lobbyists.
Shady Swamp Alert!
The defense sector – which includes defense aerospace, defense electronics and other miscellaneous defense companies – spent a whopping $117,431,129 to lobby Congress in 2021 alone.
Since 9/11, the defense sector has spent well over $2.5 billion dollars on lobbying. Individuals and political action committees aligned with the defense sector contributed $285 million dollars to political candidates and committees since the terrorist attacks.
Does this sound like a good idea to you? It’s pretty clear who is actually writing our national security strategy, and it ain’t the people we elect.
Now, more than ever, we need to heed a wise piece of advice from President Dwight D. Eisenhower: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”
We believe in free market enterprise, but we also believe we have to watch our defense suppliers like hawks because they have billions of reasons to fight us on this.
In 2019, Lockheed Martin held contracts with the Department of Defense worth $47 billion, with an additional $4.4 billion for “Missile Defense.” The company also had contracts with NASA ($1.36 billion), the Army ($9.6 billion); the Air Force ($10.9 billion), and the Navy ($20 billion).
The United States is by far Boeing’s largest customer, making up 31 percent of the company’s annual revenue. In 2019, this equaled $28.6 billion. In fact, deals with Boeing account for 21 percent of the Department of Defense’s entire procurement budget.
Relying on defense lobbyists to write our national security strategy guarantees that our national security strategy will be all about bombers, helicopters, Super Hornets, Phantom Eyes, Growler, Prowler, B-2, PAC-3, F-15s, ICBMs, MEADS, B-52s, MHTK — and a lot of other cool weapons and bombs that ensure America’s arsenal has all the latest, greatest hardware.
It also guarantees that innovative, forward-thinking strategic planning will be discouraged. After all, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, right?
The most dangerous part of abdicating our national security strategy to the defense lobby is that it lets the United States Congress off the hook from asking the truly critical questions. Questions like: Given the changing nature of war, how many armored brigade combat teams do we need to keep active and what exactly will their role be going forward?
How can we redesign our aging fleet of aircraft carriers since they are now sitting ducks thanks to China’s new anti-ship missiles? Should we replace the F-35 and/or the F-22 with longer-range strike bombers since the Joint Concept for Access and Maneuver in the Global Commons (JAM-GC) calls for weapons that can hit distant targets to better retaliate against China’s new anti-access/area-denial capabilities?
And what's up with the Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) — a program that the United States has been working on for almost two decades — and why in the hell does it cost so much money?
According to the Congressional Research Service, the Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) “allows the United States to strike targets anywhere on Earth in as little as an hour. This capability may bolster U.S. efforts to deter and defeat adversaries by allowing the United States to attack high-value targets or ‘fleeting targets’ at the start of or during a conflict. CPGS weapons would not substitute for nuclear weapons but would supplement U.S. conventional capabilities. They would provide a ‘niche’ capability, with a small number of weapons directed against select, critical targets.”
That all sounds pretty good, but then this: “The Pentagon’s FY2021 budget request continues to show significant increases in funding for the Navy’s CPS program.”
“In FY2019, this program received $278 million. The Navy received $512 million for this program in FY2020 and requested $1.008 billion for FY2021. The budget request shows continuing increases in funding over the next five years, with $5.3 billion allocated to the program between FY2021 through FY2025.”
This is an obscene amount of money. What due diligence is being done to justify this program? What is the end game, or do we even have one? Who are the players involved in making these decisions? Are strategies like these even the best way forward?
Questions like: Should we endorse submarine- and sea-launched low-yield weapons and/or a nuclear modernization program like the one outlined in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review and the most recent Assessment and Recommendations of the National Defense Strategy Commission? Or, do we really even need the New START limit of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments; 1,550 nuclear warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments; and 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments — when it takes a fraction of that to blow any country off the face of the earth? Read more here.
Really think about that last sentence for a second. There are 195 sovereign countries in the entire world. Our estimated total nuclear inventory is 5,800 (this includes warheads in the military stockpile as well as retired, but still intact, warheads in queue for dismantlement).
If you take only the 3,800 active warheads in our Military Stockpile — defined as warheads that are in the custody of the military and earmarked for use by commissioned deliver vehicles — we could literally blow up every single country on earth over 19 times!
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that “if carried out, the plans for nuclear forces delineated in the Department of Defense’s and the Department of Energy’s fiscal year 2019 budget requests would cost a total of $494 billion over the 2019–2028 period, for an average of just under $50 billion a year.”
That’s just the money it takes going forward, but this outrageous spending has been going on for eight decades.
The Brookings Institution, a research group, found that: “From 1940 through 1996, we spent nearly $5.5 trillion on nuclear weapons and weapons-related programs, in constant 1996 dollars.” Just imagine what that number would be in today’s dollars, 25 years later! The report continues, “If we could represent $5.8 trillion as a stack of dollar bills, it would reach from the Earth to the Moon and nearly back again, a distance of more than 459,000 miles.”
This has gotten completely out of hand. It’s high time we have a serious conversation about our nuclear program because it’s bleeding us dry.