When It Comes to Defense, Money Isn’t Everything

Just before Christmas, President Joe Biden signed a bill to provide the Pentagon with $858 billion in spending for the fiscal year 2023. This is an enormous sum — far higher than US spending at the peak of the Korean or Vietnam wars or the height of the Cold War. But what’s more, the $80 billion increase from the fiscal year 2022 to 2023 alone is higher than the entire military budget of every nation in the world but China.

According to the latest figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the United States spends about two and a half times on its military as China spends and ten times what Russia spends. Russia is no doubt spending more now in the context of its brutal invasion of Ukraine, but the spending gap remains significant, especially if one considers the hundreds of billions spent on their militaries by US allies in Europe. The same holds for Asia, where US spending is augmented by investments made by allies in Japan, Australia, Taiwan, and South Korea, among others.

Despite this wide spending disparity between the United States and its main adversaries, China and Russia, hawks in Washington are crying for more, with a goal of spending more than $1 trillion on the Pentagon and nuclear weapons spending at the Department of Energy within a few years time.


Advocates of boosting Pentagon spending don’t seem to understand that there is a point when more becomes less when it comes to defense. Throwing more money at the Pentagon now is more likely to enable price gouging and cost overruns than provide greater protection for the United States and its allies. Even more importantly, an endless flow of money to the Pentagon relieves the department of having to make choices among contending security risks. The administration’s recent National Defense Strategy (NDS) document is an object lesson in how not to make choices.

Read the full piece in Inkstick Media.