Opinion: Decrease the Military’s budget


DoD photo by Sgt. Brandon Aird, U.S. Army. / Public domain

The US military has hundreds of military bases across the world, much more compared to other first-world nations.

Recent news of U.S. Army street gang activity rising has the world re-evaluating their view of our military. Is it as needed as we think? Is the U.S. military always the savior, or is it sometimes the villain? Questions like these remain necessary and relevant as our military spends recklessly and acts unethically. With an increase in opposition towards police and local law enforcement, it’s important to view America’s policing problem outside its borders. With an unnatural amount of bases worldwide, hundreds more than other first world nations, we don’t understand why the US is set allocating so many funds towards something that does not directly benefit its citizens. The US Military’s budget needs to decrease, and it needs to decrease quickly. 

In 2018, the United States spent $648.8 billion on the military. It has one of the biggest budgets, only second to Social Security. In fact, the US spent $40.1 billion more than the next seven highest spending countries combined. This includes China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and more. In 2015, the U.S. was responsible for 37% of global military spending. The total was $1.6 trillion, meaning the U.S spent $592 billion of that insane number. Considering that the nation is not facing an impending threat, this amount of spending on military activity is far out of proportion. 

Part of the reason for this excessive spending is the military industrial complex or the relationship between the Defense Department and military-related goods manufacturers that encourages ongoing warfare and/or military presence in order to produce a profit for said manufacturing companies. This idea of for-profit warfare is completely immoral. 

Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower (a retired five-star army general who directed the D-Day invasion of France) warned against letting the military take control of America’s actions via the military-industrial complex after World War II, but unfortunately, we as a nation did not heed this warning. 

The “War on Terror” has become the modern incarnation of the military industrial complex. According to the budget for the fiscal year 2020, since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the War on Terror has added $2.4 trillion to the national debt

Former President George W. Bush said of the War on Terror, “It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.” This seems extremely unrealistic and not worth the amount of money it would take to complete. Such money would be better spent improving the infrastructure, schools, healthcare and veterans’ benefits within the United States, rather than fighting a never-ending battle against a faceless enemy. We must end the War on Terror.

The U.S. has 800 military bases in 70 nations around the world, costing at least $100 billion each year. The reason for these bases’ existence is not the economic benefit of their host nations nor the benefit of our own economy, but rather to put money in the pockets of private contractors (yet another part of the military industrial complex).

Oftentimes the US government supports the dictatorial governments of nations it has bases in at the cost of these nations’ citizens, so the argument that the bases are there out of a humanitarian effort is unfounded. The foreign military bases of all other countries total to 30, none of which are within the U.S. Why do we, as a country, feel the need to invade other countries and put military bases where they are not wanted, especially if there is no benefit for them? 

Additionally, the military should consist only of people truly willing to be there without incentive. The benefits that the military offers often entice children, who aren’t even allowed to drink yet, to join as their only way of paying for college or getting out of an abusive household. We should want loyal soldiers fighting in our army, not those who feel they have no other choice. Instead of using college funds as a carrot to force teenagers to pull the military’s cart, those funds should go directly to colleges so they can decrease the cost of attendance.

Taking a fraction of the military’s budget and also putting it into the public school system and trade schools would also increase the likelihood of teenagers finding jobs that fit them or open resources to develop hirable skills, so they do not feel that they have no other option but to join the military. There is no need to fill the ranks of the military in what is widely considered peacetime, so the amount of recruiting being done is unjustified.

All of the problems previously described could be mitigated by a drastic decrease in military funding and reallocation of those funds to the budgets of human necessities such as education. The American people deserve to have adequate funding in the systems that we rely on to live, develop skills and be successful.

As a country, we must set our priorities straight in regards to how we spend our funds or the people the military fights for will no longer have a way of life to defend.