Lindsay Koshgarian / The National Priorities Project & Ruth Milka / NationofChange & Sal Rodriguez / Orange County Register – 2018-02-13 02:19:17
Congress Strikes a Deal for 54% Military Spending in Federal Budget
Lindsay Koshgarian / The National Priorities Project
WASHINGTON (February 9, 2018) — After a brief hours-long government shutdown in the middle of the night, the House and Senate both voted to pass a budget deal that sets military and nonmilitary spending levels for 2018 and 2019.
The deal sets 2018 spending levels at $700 billion for the military — including an $80 billion budget increase, as well as $71 billion in war and emergency funding, an increase over recent years.
Nonmilitary discretionary spending was set at $591 billion for 2018. The resulting federal discretionary budgets invests 54% of the federal discretionary budget in the military and nuclear weapons. Non-military spending includes federal funding for public education, veterans’ care, the National Institutes of Health, Environmental Protection Agency, State Department and other programs means that the resulting balance.
The president’s budget proposal for 2018 would have shifted the balance of military and non-military spending, with a military budget making up 59% of federal spending.
More details will be negotiated during the coming weeks, when both houses will again need to vote on the final budget deal.
The bill passed by the House and Senate does not include any resolution to the humanitarian crisis for Dreamers resulting from the administration’s end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Cut off the Pentagon Funds
And Stop the March to War
In the State of the Union address, the president listed a slew of countries and non-countries he named as threats to “our interests, our economy, and our values.”
He then says that “unmatched power is the surest means of our defense,” and seemingly earnestly demands that we must “fully fund our great military.”
Setting aside the question of whether threats to our economy are proper justification for making military threats, direct or implied (after all, when have they not been), we must ask: if our military is not fully funded now, when will it be? We spend more than the next 8 countries combined.
We spend nearly three times as much as China, nearly nine times as much as Russia, and North Korea and ISIS don’t even rate on this scale. US military spending is higher than the entire GDP of Sweden. Our Pentagon is a country unto itself.
President Trump will propose a $716 billion military budget for 2019. That would be an 18 percent increase (without adjusting for inflation) over the last budget passed under President Obama.
This is a president and military ramping up for war, in a country that has had more than enough. There’s no other justification for the military spending Trump wants. One way to stop his march toward war is to cut off the funds.
$45 Billion: The Cost of the War in Afghanistan in 2018
2018 will mark the 17th year of the Afghanistan war
Ruth Milka / NationofChange
(February 12, 2018) — The war in Afghanistan will cost $45 billion this year, according to Randall Schriber, the assistant secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs.
$13 billion of this will go to US forces in the country, with $5 billion for Afghan forces, $780 million for economic aid and the rest for logistical support.
This $45 billion is just this year’s portion of the new strategy President Trump announced six months ago. Trump’s plan calls for increased US military commitment in the region, along with an increase of 8,400 to 14,000 troops.
Schriver, who spoke before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, was not able to offer an estimate on the total cost estimate for the new strategy.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee questioned the estimated 2018 costs. Lawmakers asked whether the new plan will force the Taliban to the table for peace talks and an end to the war. 2018 will mark the 17th year of the Afghanistan war.
But if it’s up to Trump, talking to the Taliban is out of the question. According to the president, “There’s no talking to the Taliban. We don’t want to talk to the Taliban.”
Many disagree with him. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) believes that billions are “just being thrown down a hatch in Afghanistan” and that “We’re in an impossible situation.” Paul believes our national security is being compromised the longer we stay in the country and that a military solution is probably not possible.
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) pointed out that the Taliban may not want to settle at all, since they “now control more territory than they did since 2001” when the United States first invaded the country.
Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan insists that this new plan is an improvement, and “Our security interests in Afghanistan, in the region or significant enough . . . to back the Afghan government in their struggle against the Taliban.”
Meanwhile there is a great discrepancy in how many Taliban fighters remain in the country, with NBS News reporting as many as 60,000, and the Pentagon insisting that it is less than 15,000.”
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The Aimless War in Afghanistan Will Cost
US Taxpayers $45 Billion This Year
Sal Rodriguez / Orange County Register
(February 7, 2018) — America’s forever war in Afghanistan will cost $45 billion this year, a Pentagon official told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
Now in its 17th year, there seems to be no end in sight to what has mostly become a futile effort at nation building. Depending on how you calculate it, the total cost of the war to date somewhere between $841 billion and $2 trillion.
With numbers like that, since the government was going to blow hundreds of billions or trillions anyway, it’s hard not to ponder all the problems we might’ve been able to solve here in the United States for that amount of money, or even a fraction of it.
The human cost is also staggering. More than 26,000 civilians have been killed, tens of thousands more injured, more than 2,000 American soldiers have been killed, and many more injured. The trauma and destruction of war will be felt for generations to come.
After all of that, it isn’t clear that the United States has accomplished very much. The Taliban continues to gain ground, report after report has come out documenting waste and fraud in US spending in Afghanistan and it is known that our military has long looked the other way as Afghan security forces sexually abused children and continued funding units engaged in human rights abuses.
All that has been established is that the US federal government is absolutely terrible at rebuilding countries, spending money responsibly, protecting human rights and fostering stable governments.
At the rate things are going, the American people can look forward to decades more of aimless war and occupation on the other side of the planet with little to show for it but body bags, misery and wasted resources.
How much more money do we have to spend? How many more people do we need to kill? How many more soldiers do we need to send to their deaths? For what?
The sooner we cut our losses and bring the troops home, the better.
Sal Rodriguez is an editorial writer and columnist for the Southern California News Group. He may be reached at email@example.com
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