[OPE-L:6781] USA: $48B in military spending boost, but little to do with "War on Terrorism"

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Wed Mar 20 2002 - 15:36:11 EST

USA: $48 billion in military spending boost, but little to do with 
"War on Terrorism"

Senior research associate with the Arms Trade Resource Center at the 
World Policy Institute, Berrigan said today: "If President Bush has 
his way, total military spending for 2003 will reach $396 billion, an 
$87 billion increase from January 2001. It would be the largest 
increase since the Reagan administration. But this spending spree has 
little to do with
fighting the war on terrorism. About one-third of the $68 billion 
allocated for weapons procurement will pay for Cold War systems with 
no relevance to the current war. This includes an additional $12 
billion for Joint Strike Fighter, F-22 and Super Hornet fighter plane 
programs. On the campaign trail, Bush repeatedly said the U.S. did 
not need all three systems. At a time when Americans are being asked 
to make hard choices in a tough economy, the Pentagon is holding onto 
the Cold War relics of yesterday while fighting the anti-terrorism 
wars of today and tomorrow. We cannot afford to have it both ways."
Sky High
The military busts the 2003 federal budget.
by Frida Berrigan
$48 billion in military spending increases, wrapped in the flag.
In These Times February, 19, 2002

Clad in a leather bomber jacket and surrounded by the weapons of the 
war on terrorism, President Bush was certainly trying to link his new 
budget to the fight against the ‚*úaxis of evil.‚*Ě At the Elgin Air 
Force base in Florida on February 4th, he announced his request for a 
$48 billion increase in military spending, the largest in almost two 

If Bush has his way, the total budget for military spending in 
2003‚*Ēincluding military functions of the Coast Guard and the 
Department of Energy‚*Ēwill reach $396 billion, an $87 billion 
increase from when he took office in January 2001.

Standing against a backdrop of F-15 and F-16 fighter planes, an A-10 
warthog, and a huge American flag, Bush argued that the United States 
needs new military spending to address new threats and a new security 
environment. ‚*úIt is very clear that the defense budget is cheap 
when one compares it to putting our security at risk, our lives at 
risk, our country at risk, our freedoms at risk,‚*Ě Bush said. But 
his rhetoric ignores the fact that this new military spending spree 
has little to do with fighting the war on terrorism.

About one-third of the $68 billion allocated for weapons procurement 
in the new budget proposal would pay for Cold War systems with no 
relevance to the current war or future conflicts being imagined by 
war planners. This includes an additional $12 billion to fund three 
new fighter plane programs: the Joint Strike Fighter, F-22 and Super 
Hornet. On the campaign trail, Bush repeatedly said that the U.S. 
could not afford and did not need all three systems.

The 70-ton Crusader artillery system, despite being designed to fight 
land battles against the Soviet Union, too would be fully funded at 
$475.2 million. These and other Cold War relics are slated to receive 
$21.2 billion in the fiscal year 2003 budget. The Bush 
administration‚*ôs proposed increase alone is larger than the entire 
military budget of every other country in the world except Russia, 
which spends about $60 billion on the military each year.

Bush‚*ôs new budget is a four-volume tome printed on heavy glossy 
paper. The cover is a picture of the American flag, and the pages are 
full of photographs and charts. In language clearly drafted before 
the Enron scandal hit the front page, the budget calls on government 
to emulate the efficiency of the private sector, saying, ‚*údollars 
will go to programs that work, those programs that don‚*ôt work will 
be reformed.‚*Ě

What works and what doesn‚*ôt can depend on where you are sitting.

Jesse McDonnell and other high school students at the Youth 
Opportunity Center in Portland, Oregon probably thought their program 
was working pretty well. President Bush even told them so. On a West 
Coast jaunt in early January, Bush dropped in on the center that 
provides job training to about 1,400 students in one of Portland‚*ôs 
poorest neighborhoods. He praised ‚*úthe good instructors‚*Ě there 
for ‚*úhelping people help themselves.‚*Ě

Bush‚*ôs new budget slashes $545 million from job training programs 
around the country. For the Youth Opportunity Center, that is likely 
to mean 80 percent cuts in funding and maybe the end of the program. 
McDonnell was stunned when he heard about the cuts. ‚*úI was like, 
‚*ėHow could you come visit here if you‚*ôre going to do that?‚*ô‚*Ě

A Bush administration official defended the cuts, saying the aim was 
to get rid of ‚*úduplicative services‚*Ě and support proven programs 
like the Job Corps. But job-training programs such as the Youth 
Opportunity Center are only two years old, and program backers say it 
is too soon to gauge their overall impact. The center‚*ôs executive 
director, Antoinette Edwards, says, ‚*úGiven the time we‚*ôve had, it 
feels as though we‚*ôre about to have the plug snatched out. We feel 
like we‚*ôre onto something big.‚*Ě

It‚*ôs not just job training that Bush seems to think ‚*údoesn‚*ôt 
work.‚*Ě The White House‚*ôs budget proposes cuts at the Justice and 
Labor departments and appropriates no new money for Commerce, 
Agriculture or the Interior. Moreover, proposed increases in the 
budgets for education, the environment and space exploration do not 
reach the rate of inflation.

But the Pentagon wants even more money. The ink was barely dry on the 
White House proposal when the Pentagon began preparing its case that 
the $48 billion increase over last year‚*ôs allocation is not enough 
money. Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 
addressed Congress the next day to call for increased spending of 
more than $100 billion a year ‚*úfor several years.‚*Ě Can we really 
afford that?

Frida Berrigan is a senior research associate with the World Policy 
Institute‚*ôs Arms Trade Resource Center.

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