Late last month, President Biden signed a bill that clears the way for $858 billion in Pentagon spending and nuclear weapons work at the Department of Energy in 2023. That’s far more than Washington anted up for military purposes at the height of the Korean or Vietnam wars or even during the peak years of the Cold War. In fact, the $80 billion increase from the 2022 Pentagon budget is in itself more than the military budgets of any country other than China. Meanwhile, a full accounting of all spending justified in the name of national security, including for homeland security, veterans’ care, and more, will certainly exceed $1.4 trillion. And mind you, those figures don’t even include the more than $50 billion in military aid Washington has already dispatched to Ukraine, as well as to frontline NATO allies, in response to the Russian invasion of that country.
The assumption is that when it comes to spending on the military and related activities, more is always better.
There’s certainly no question that one group will benefit in a major way from the new spending surge: the weapons industry. If recent experience is any guide, more than half of that $858 billion will likely go to private firms. The top five contractors alone — Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman — will split between $150 billion and $200 billion in Pentagon contracts. Meanwhile, they’ll pay their CEOs, on average, more than $20 million a year and engage in billions of dollars in stock buybacks designed to boost their share prices.
Such “investments” are perfectly designed to line the pockets of arms-industry executives and their shareholders. However, they do little or nothing to help defend this country or its allies.
Read the full piece in TomDispatch.