Biden's military budget proposal flies in the face of climate logic

Washington DC - Spending on the military in the US is already higher than the 11 next largest military budgets combined, but President Joe Biden has requested another titanic increase.

A high-tech military doesn't need additional funding, say key members of Congress.
A high-tech military doesn't need additional funding, say key members of Congress.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The White House's new budget request for 2023, announced last Monday, includes a 4% increase for the US military, which would up the defense budget to a cool $814 billion.

But members of Congress are already thrashing the request, noting that the military budget is already exorbitantly high.

Squad member and Congressional Progressives Caucus Chair Pramala Jayapal tweeted, "We do not need to raise the defense budget by another $31 billion."

"It's time to make investments into our communities – not into a defense budget that is already larger than the next 11 countries combined."

Bernie Sanders made the same point, saying, "At a time when we are already spending more on the military than the next 11 countries combined, no we do not need a massive increase in the defense budget."

But the White House is sticking to its guns, holding onto President Biden's justification for the increased military spending:

"I’m calling for one of the largest investments in our national security in history, with the funds needed to ensure that our military remains the best-prepared, best-trained, best-equipped military in the world. In addition, I’m calling for continued investment to forcefully respond to Putin’s aggression against Ukraine with US support for Ukraine’s economic, humanitarian, and security needs."

More military money doesn't add up

Previous US military spending increases didn't keep Russia from invading Ukraine.
Previous US military spending increases didn't keep Russia from invading Ukraine.  © Collage: IMAGO / agefotostock (Stock)

Robert Weissman, president of non-profit consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, told the Guardian: "This increase in money is not about Ukraine. This is about spending more on the US military-industrial complex. And that expenditure, obviously, didn’t deter Russia from invading Ukraine."

Indeed, despite the gargantuan amount of money that flows into the United States military, Russia has been brutalizing the people of Ukraine since February 24.

Regular military budget increases didn't stop Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, nor did following spending increases push Russia to return control of Crimea.

There is also a major housekeeping problem with giving money to the Department of Defense (DOD). According to CNBC, the DOD has never been able to pass an audit, meaning there is no way of tracking how taxpayer dollars are actually spent on our military.

Meanwhile, other departments dedicated to keeping US citizens healthy, educated, and housed take up a fraction of the federal budget, yet are much more heavily scrutinized than the spending that goes to the military.

Jayapal cut through to the mismatch in funding priorities. She decried how "appropriators and advocates are constantly called to answer for how we will afford spending on lowering costs and expanding access to healthcare, housing, childcare services, on fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, and on combating climate change."

She pointed out how "such concerns evaporate when it comes to the Pentagon’s endlessly growing, unaudited budget."

Militaries won't matter if climate change isn't stopped

Climate change doesn't care about the size of the US military.
Climate change doesn't care about the size of the US military.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire, YAY Images (Stock)

Climate change is the key problem looming over everything else.

The war in Ukraine already overshadowed the latest report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the same might happen with its new playbook for taking climate action, due to be published on Monday.

Climate change's effects already cost the country tens of billions of dollars in 2021 alone, but as climate change worsens, it will become more expensive to dust ourselves off from extreme weather events like wildfires, hurricanes, rainfall, sea-level rise, and landslides.

The proposed budget hikes for the military will not substantially help deal with the effects of the climate crisis. Given its persistent pollution problem, it might actually make things worse. If it were a country, the US armed forces would rank 45th for its greenhouse gas emissions

The money going to the military could instead go towards the necessary investments that are crucial to taking swift climate action, an endeavor already known to carry a trillion-dollar price tag.

So, not only is more spending on the military taking money away from potential climate action, it is actively fueling the climate crisis and rising global temperatures.

If you have the biggest military budget in the world, bigger than the next 11 largest military budgets combined, and you still can't make world peace a thing, maybe it's time to put that money somewhere else...

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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