Rethinking the Military Budget Amid the Coronavirus Crisis

NPP Pressroom

The National Interest
Savannah Wooten

Imagine what the world might look like if America had changed course years ago. In the past nineteen years of post–9/11 warfighting alone, the United States has spent $6.4 trillion on war-related spending and killed more than 770,000 people, including 7,000 U.S. service members and more than 312,000 civilians. This massive loss has not resulted in any measurable increase in security.  

By contrast, according to researchers at the National Priorities Project, it would take $4.5 trillion over the span of ten years to transition to a clean energy grid. Similarly, reallocating wasted money away from the Pentagon could contribute to canceling debilitating student debt, ending homelessness in the United States, or bolstering the country’s health-care system to be better equipped to address public health threats. Skeptics, allies, and citizens alike are right to question why the world’s supposed “best” country systematically chooses to channel its extreme wealth into the military-industrial complex while its students test thirty-eighth on global standardized mathematics assessments, its health care system falls thirty-seventh in efficiency, and it leads the G7 in income inequality. The United States can reallocate and improve. 

The coronavirus crisis must be an inflection point for this generation. Instead of corporate profits and militarism, America needs human security. Instead of the firebrand bluster that has characterized this administration, America needs proactive solutions. Instead of fighter jet flyovers, America needs health care. A virus does not respond to intimidation and it cannot be shot into submission. The way out of the coronavirus, the existential threat of climate change, and nearly every other threat predicted to appear over the next fifty years, is properly funded global cooperation and domestic human needs investments.

Until America’s leaders can fundamentally reimagine the current system, they will continue to replicate these errors and put people in serious danger on an infinite loop.

It’s a $740 billion question: Why is America so vulnerable, even as its government insists that it will spare no expense to protect it? It’s clear that “security” funding has not been going into systems and investments that make day-to-day life more possible, safe, and secure for everyday people. The truth is that military spending was never about actually keeping Americans safe. It’s time to dramatically curb it.

Savannah Wooten leads Public Citizen’s advocacy efforts to reduce military spending and reinvest in domestic and human needs priorities as the Campaign Coordinator of the #PeopleOverPentagon campaign. 

Read the full article at The National Interest.