The Greatest Threat Faced By US
The consequence of the military policy pursued by neo-conservatives is quite similar to that followed by the defunct energy company Enron. Resultantly, United States finds itself in a condition that it can not even afford its own high standards of living and it is even unable to pay the expenses for its sporadic military establishment. The Bush administration is not taking keen interest regarding the resolution of such deteriorating economic conditions. Instead, it thinks appropriate to transfer these threatening conditions to coming generations.
There are three main causes of the US’ debt crisis. Firstly it is spending a large sum of money on defense- the preemptive war doctrine- which has nothing to do with the national security of United States. At the same time the income tax policy standards in US are not fair. The income tax burdens on the richest segments of the population are kept very low. Secondly, it is believed in US that they can compensate for the accelerating erosion of their manufacturing base and their loss of jobs to foreign countries through massive military expenditures. Thirdly, for the sake of spending on military means, the government is not taking interest in spending on the social sector.
The expenditures of the Defense department for the fiscal year-2008 are larger than all other nations’ military budgets combined. The Defense budget will exceed $1 trillion for the first time in history. The supplementary budget to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is not the part of the official defense budget.
In discussing the fiscal 2008 defense budget, as released to the press on February 7, 2007. It was stated that the Defense Department has requested $481.4 billion for salaries, operations and equipment. It has requested $141.7 billion for global war on terror. The Department of Defense also asked for an extra $93.4 billion to pay for hitherto unmentioned war costs in the remainder of 2007. Moreover, an additional allowance of $50 billion to be charged to fiscal year 2009 is also asked for. In addition to these demands by the US Defense Department, to expand the American military empire, the government has asked $23.4 billion for developing and maintaining nuclear warheads and $25.3 billion is spent on foreign military assistance. Another $1.03 billion is now needed for recruitment and reenlistment incentives for the overstretched US military itself. At least $75.7 billion are required for the long term care of acutely injured soldiers in the war of Iraq and Afghanistan. Another $46.4 billion goes to the Department of Homeland security. Moreover, $1.9 billion to the Department of Justice for the paramilitary activities of the FBI; $38.5 billion for the Military Retirement Fund; $7.6 billion for the military-related activities of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and well over $200 billion in interest for past debt-financed defense outlays.
Many neo-conservatives and ill informed patriotic Americans believe that they are the richest country in the world thus they can afford such a huge defense budget, which is just an illusion now. If one wants to see the current economic condition of US he can easily examine the “current accounts” of various nations. The current account measures the net trade surplus or deficit of a country plus cross-border payments of interest, royalties, dividends, capital gains, foreign aid, and other income. The United States is at number 163 - dead last on the list - with China at number 1 and Japan at number 2. Its 2006 current account deficit was $811.5 billion. This is really unsustainable for the Americans.
When Bush became president in January 2001, the national debt stood at approximately $5.7 trillion. Since then, it has increased by 45%. This huge debt can be largely explained by defense expenditures in comparison with the rest of the world.
The world's top 10 military spenders and the approximate amounts each country currently budgets for its military establishment are:
1. United States (FY08 budget), $623 billion
2. China = $65 billion
3. Russia =$50 billion
4. France = $45 billion
5. Japan = $41.75 billion
6. Germany = $35.1 billion
7. Italy = $28.2 billion
8. South Korea = $21.1 billion
9. India = $19 billion
10. Saudi Arabia = $18 billion
It is quite evident from the above figures that America is spending much more on the military purposes than the other states. It has not started during the reign of President Bush but it was the policy pursued by the former presidents as well. They are using military not for the purpose of defense but they are trying to establish it as an economy generating institution. It was in the start of the cold war when US observed the increasing power of the communist block. It decided to make a basic strategy for the emerging cold war. Consequently, the militaristic National Security Council Report 68 was drafted and signed by President Harry S Truman in 1950. In its conclusions, NSC-68 asserted: "One of the most significant lessons of our World War II experience was that the American economy, when it operates at a level approaching full efficiency, can provide enormous resources for purposes other than civilian consumption while simultaneously providing a high standard of living."
After that a large number of militaristic industries were established in America under the leadership of Pentagon. In 1990, 83% of the industries in the United States were related to arms and ammunition – for military purposes. However, there is no more USSR on the world map now but US is still following the same expensive policy which is a sign of slow economic suicide. According to a study, if this policy is pursued in the coming years then after 10 years, there would be 464,000 fewer jobs than in a baseline scenario that involved lower defense spending.
American administration has spent trillions of dollars in making nuclear devices. People were employed to make these devices. If these dollars would have been spent on improving social sector – education structure, health care, employment generation, decreasing the gap between the standards of living of rich and poor – then the economic conditions would not have been such drastic.
The Americans need to realize that their short tenure as the world's "lone superpower" has come to an end. The US has always been the world's leading lending country that has been the premier country in terms of political influence, diplomatic influence, and cultural influence. It's no accident that it took over the role from the British at the same time that it took over the job of being the world's leading lending country. Today US is no longer the world's leading lending country. In fact it is now the world's biggest debtor country, and it is continuing to wield influence on the basis of military power alone.
Some of the damage done can never be rectified. There are, however, some steps that this country urgently needs to take. These include reversing Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, beginning to liquidate American global empire of over 800 military bases, and cutting from the defense budget all projects that bear no relationship to the national security of the United States. If these things are done Americans have a chance of squeaking by. If they don't, they face probable national insolvency and a long depression.
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