Irony: Our Huge Military Is What Made Us an Empire ... But Our Huge Military is What Is Bankrupting Us, Thus DESTROYING Our Status as an Empire

George Washington's picture



As I've previously pointed
, America's military-industrial complex is ruining our economy.

U.S. military and intelligence leaders say that the economic crisis is
the biggest national security threat to the United States. See this,
and this.

RT points out, it is ironic that America's huge military spending is
what made us an empire ... but our huge military is what is bankrupting
us ... thus destroying our status as an empire:

wonder people from opposite ends of the political spectrum like Barney Frank
and Ron Paul
are calling for a reduction in military spending.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
tony bonn's picture

fortunately hubris carries within it the seeds of its own destruction....

just as the rockefellers and bush crime syndicate ordered the ussr to close shop, they need to do the same thing to america and its wars of imperial aggression.....obama is just waiting for the word from his bosses....NOT

Dburn's picture

I read that congress, frightened to look weak on defense, authorized a cumulative total of 42% pay increases. I was skeptical. Sure enough, if you got to military pay schedules, you'll find that when you add up all the extras a PFC is going to make the same if not more than the median income of $46,000 (includes food, housing, medical care etc) . The brass complained too. But lets be clear. They were worried about it taking away from their equipment budget. Mt position is that if we send our people to war zones to fight, they should be paid top wages anywhere. Where the buck stops for me is paying the 95-98% who don't ever hear a shot fired in anger the same. Make no mistake, The troop's combat allowances are a joke.

If they go to fight the idea of canon fodder should be completely dispensed with by making it so expensive that starting up a war doesn't necessarily mean more jobs for the home town district. That serves the dual purpose of making sure our people are the best paid and the best trained and toughest smartest warriers on the battlefeild. But it should never mean that the people that decided what guns they carry, what body armor they wear, what helmets they wear and what vehicles they drive, should be able to capitalize on that in th eprivate sector well beyond what they ever could make provided they aren't killed or horribly wounded.

Over all though the military can't be considered a public service or service to nation with the financial sacrifices past warriers had to make. It's a high paying professional career path that if worked well can easyily lead to 7 figure jobs in the contracting world especially for those in procurement who ususally never see a shot fired in anger. Either way, They get to retire at 50% pay with Tricare benefits at 20 years ( as low as 38) or 30 years with 75% pay and tricare benefits (as low as 48) . When social security comes they get that too. Their are good paying jobs for those who retired with rank at defense contractors and even those who haven't if they go with a contractor that provides battle feild benefits.

This is the genesis of a whole new set of problems that already are gaining traction in firming up the MIC and creating a instituitionalized pay structure and expense structure that will be , if it isn't already, as untouchable as Social Security.


moneymutt's picture

Agreed, pentagon does not like military peronnel getting much money and benes because that makes regular workers well-off and steals budget from elite parasites....I do think we overpay some military personnel but for those in combat, how can you ever compensate...but I'd rather have soldiers get money than halliburton and xe

daneskold's picture

History repeats itself. In the 1500s, Spain went broke fighting against Muslim insurgency outside its borders on the grounds that it would be better to fight extra-territorially than fight them on home soil.  Does that rationale sound familiar?

Spain has never recovered its position as the world's super-power economically and militarily.


In the late 20th Century, another world super power went broke and collapsed economically and militarily fighting a cold war and hot war in a number of crapistans including Afghanistan.


But that could not happen to the U.S.



King_of_simpletons's picture

We are being bankrupted by the same forces that did the same for countless countries. If we think that we are different from others and somehow those laws don't hold good for us, we might as well put a bullet into our heads right now as it is only getting worse. Denial by fillibustering is a waste of time.

Dr. Sandi's picture

Change doesn't come from putting a bullet in your own head.

Look outward, surely somebody needs that bullet more than you do.


RockyRacoon's picture

You seem to have a wide streak of fatalism, Doc.

I like it!

sangell's picture

In 1960 Defense spending was 50% of the Federal budget. From a population of 180 million, 3.4 million were serving on active duty in the military ( almost all men too) so to say our military spending is excessive we need to ask 'compared to what' and how 'valuable' are our armed forces.

I would suggest that our 1.7 million armed forces are both affordable and perhaps the best value of any government program. Whether it be disaster relief ( while the UN was holding a press conference in NY announcing what they were planning on doing after the Indonesian tsunami an American aircraft carrier was off Sumatra doing it!) or putting combat forces on the ground anywhere in the world the US military is without peer.

Having the 2nd best military is what every defeated nation in the world possessed.


CEOoftheSOFA's picture

If defense spending was anywhere near 50% of federal apending in 1960 we would have been broke in 1961.  What level is too much?  Spending 50% of the world's defense budget is far too much.  Defense spending at this level either means we are trying to take over the world, or the defense contractors have excessive influence in Washington.  I think it's the latter.  This is the number one reason we are bankrupt.  And we get nothing for it. 

Myzery's picture

we get fucking oil.


Are you ready for the world without a dominant U.S. Military?

laughnow's picture

Escapeclause nailed it... Ill go one step further...those that purport we should have 700 military bases in 50 countries should immediately donate 100% of their income to the Govt, borrow the max from their house and credit cards and give to Govt to pay for this endless parade of bullshit.


Treeplanter's picture

The US has never been an empire.  Marxist drivel rules too many air heads.  The satanic cult of Islam is in full jihad mode.  After President Wee Wee is gone and no longing bowing to the Wahibi dictator we will need our military to shut down Turkey, Iran, and their buddies.

moneymutt's picture

and how does 100k troops on ground in Afghanistan stop Jihadists in Norway, Denver? How do 10,000s of soldiers (not spys, not police investigators, but soldiers, tanks etc) in Germany, Guam, Kyrgyzstan, Korea help us deal with jihadists that live in every country in the world.

Do we have military power and know how to invade every Muslim country and pacify them in a way they would never engage in terror or hurt Americans? Can our military take on Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia all at once? 

Are there any pacifists here saying we should have no military or global intelligence/policing?

No, I believe GW was saying we overspend. As an early poster noted, we could cut our military spending by 50 percent and still the biggest baddest military in the world.

While you might not agree with the anti-military spending discussed here, it is not based on "air-headed" drivel...there is lots of evidence and analysis presented. Unlike many of the posters here who present ideas, evidence, analysis to make their argument, you simply call people personal, derogatory names. You don't argue validity of various ideas and you no present no facts, you offer no cost analysis how we afford your idea of military, you just call the prez a name that would make an 8 year old boy laugh, call a major religion a cult, and call anybody who thinks US has acted as an empire for last 50 years as "airheads". I guess Ike was a marxist air head too and he was a member of a cult because he was a Chistian.

We have permanent bases in 60+ countries including Guam, Diego Garcia, Korea, Philippines, Japan, Germany, Poland, UK on and on..... We now have a huge permanent base presence in Iraq and Afghanistan even if we pull from active combat in those countries and we are also forming a whole knew command, AfriCom, so there will permanent bases on that continent soon too.

We have invaded Latin American countries for the benefit of United Fruit company. We overthrew the nationalistic, popular Mossadeq in Iran simply because he was asking for too much money from US and UK oil companies there  (he was not completely kicking them out and not banning them from any profit, just asking for a much better deal) and we then installed the repressive Shah that sold-out his country to the West just like we arranged him to. It is admitted fact that we assassinated populist, clean African leaders working for the benefit of their people and installed in their place evil, greedy men that insured African mineral wealth fled to our hands rather than the regular people of African countries. It would be like Russia killing Palin when she was governor and rigging elections for a governor that cut almost all money taken from oil companies and given to Alaskan people via funding of their govt and the oil payments they recieve every year, and instead just let the Russian oil companies keep it all.

We have given horribly repressive regimes in Latin America aid such as munitions, police, covert military and monetary support to wage counterinsurgency against. Google: "School of Americas" sometime to get an idea of how we fund and support oppressive leaders that sell out to our their people to our corporations. But I guess this is not imperialism in your book.

Grab a few books on the history of Islam in the world and history of Islamic empires and regimes, its interesting stuff. Just as with Christian empires, like Spain and the Brits, Islam has had a wide variety of implementations and interpretations during its history. Just like Christian influences, Islam has been a force for good and a force for bad, has been imperialistically evil and squashed learning (Catholic church through its history has both supported learning and also set it back, tortured scientists) and has also supported learning and civil behavior...Islamic countries' militaries have invaded other countries, just as Christian West invaded Africa, Americas, Southeast Asia and committed massive genocide while converting them to Christianity.

During dark ages in Europe, Arab's empire in Mediterranean preserved much of our science and learning via ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, Persia and India (our number system comes from India, via Arabs, and is much improved over original West numbers, Roman numerals). Algebra comes from Arabs. In Europe, there was a time when all the edudated class learned Arabic, just because all the good books with lots of knowledge were written in Arabic at that time. Read a book the like the Moors in Spain. Read some history, from 200, 500 and a 1000 years ago. Compare the good and bad acts of Islam and Christendom, I don't think you find Islam worse than Chritian countries acts. Some of pockets Islam today is very much like medieval Europe Christianity, backwards, anti-woman, anti-science, but Islam has also co-existed in its history with great innovations in science, learning, architecture etc... Not every Muslim is a Jihadist. Are Jordanians, Egyptians, Lebanese, Indonesians, Turks, UAE, Saudi Arabians actively working to kill us, take out the US?

And what is your definition of cult, any religion that is not Christian? In my mind a cult is a tight organization that strips people of their free will, makes people give all their money to cult, makes people do whatever cult leader says at threat of punishment and heavily relies on brainwashing. Are Jews in a cult? Are Mormons? Hindus? Sikhs? Buddhists? Why is Islam any different than other world religions? In fact, Islam is less hierarchical than say, Catholic church, orthodox Jews or Mormons, in that they do not have formal supreme leader, rather their religious leaders gain influence not by fellow club members installing them as a leader, but from the appeal of their teachings to the masses. And Islam is deeply divided between Shiites and is that a monolithic cult?

Stop calling names and start thinking for yourself, act like an adult that has a mind and some free will.

Myzery's picture

and how does 100k troops... in Norway... How do 10,000s of soldiers... in Germany, Guam, Kyrgyzstan, Korea help us deal with jihadists that live in every country in the world.

...Can our military take on Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia all at once? 


 60+ countries... including Guam, Diego Garcia, Korea, Philippines, Japan, Germany, Poland, UK on and on..... presence in Iraq and Afghanistan...


...Jordanians, Egyptians, Lebanese, Indonesians, Turks, UAE, Saudi Arabians...

Are you ready for the world without a dominant U.S. Military?

No, your not. Life is pretty nice for the people in those countries.

Compare those two overlays. I'm not saying the record is flawless but there's a strong correlation here. VERY STRONG. (Army strong?) Note where we are, or want to, engage in conflict.

Here is a recent HDI. We have bases in all these countries. I highlighted some of your favorites.

  1.  Norway 0.971 (? 1)
  2.  Australia 0.970 (? 2)
  3.  Iceland 0.969 (? 2)
  4.  Canada 0.966 (? 1)
  5.  Ireland 0.965 (?)
  6.  Netherlands 0.964 (?)
  7.  Sweden 0.963 (?)
  8.  France 0.961 (? 3)
  9.  Switzerland 0.960 (?)
  10.  Japan 0.960 (?)
  11.  Luxembourg 0.960 (? 3)
  12.  Finland 0.959 (? 1)
  13.  United States 0.956 (? 1)
  1.  Austria 0.955 (? 2)
  2.  Spain 0.955 (?)
  3.  Denmark 0.955 (? 2)
  4.  Belgium 0.953 (?)
  5.  Italy 0.951 (? 1)
  6.  Liechtenstein 0.951 (? 1)
  7.  New Zealand 0.950 (?)
  8.  United Kingdom 0.947 (?)
  9.  Germany 0.947 (?)
  10.  Singapore 0.944 (? 1)
  11.  Hong Kong 0.944 (? 1)
  12.  Greece 0.942 (?)
  13.  South Korea 0.937 (?)
  1.  Israel 0.935 (? 1)
  2.  Andorra 0.934 (? 1)
  3.  Slovenia 0.929 (?)
  4.  Brunei 0.920 (?)
  5.  Kuwait 0.916 (?)
  6.  Cyprus 0.914 (?)
  7.  Qatar 0.910 (? 1)
  8.  Portugal 0.909 (? 1)
  9.  United Arab Emirates 0.903 (? 2)
  10.  Czech Republic 0.903 (?)
  11.  Barbados 0.903 (? 2)
  12.  Malta 0.902 (? 3)


These are some of our biggest trade partners. Real trade is good, right?

1  United States 14,260,000 2  People's Republic of China 8,789,000 3  Japan 4,137,000 4  India 3,560,000 5  Germany 2,811,000 6  United Kingdom 2,149,000 7  Russia 2,116,000 8  France 2,110,000 9  Brazil 2,025,000 10  Italy 1,760,000 11  Mexico 1,482,000 12  Spain 1,368,000 13  South Korea 1,356,000 14  Canada 1,285,000 15  Indonesia 969,200 16  Iran 876,000 17  Turkey 863,300 18  Australia 824,300 19  Republic of China (Taiwan) 717,700 20  Poland 690,100 21  Netherlands 654,900 22  Saudi Arabia 585,800 23  Argentina 556,000 24  Thailand 538,600 25  South Africa 495,100 26  Egypt 471,200 27  Pakistan 449,300 28  Colombia 401,000 29  Malaysia 381,100 30  Belgium 381,000 31  Nigeria 357,200 32  Venezuela 350,100 33  Greece 341,100 34  Sweden 333,200 35  Philippines 327,200 36  Austria 327,100 37  Switzerland 316,100 -  Hong Kong 301,300 38  Ukraine 294,300 39  Norway 276,500 40  Czech Republic 256,700

Only exceptions without a strong U.S Military presence in this list are some OPEC nations... and the mother state of the former USSR. Are you starting to put this in perspective now?

No, I believe GW was saying we overspend

As measured in dollars? 

Keep in mind.... dollars backed by assets of the fed: notably CVN-68 to CVN-77.

We could cut our military spending by 50 percent and still the biggest baddest military in the world.

Could we cut our military spending by 50 percent and still the biggest baddest military economy in the world? Do you feel certian you understand the implications of this?

If not, then we don't overspend.

tom's picture

Russia's international propaganda channel, reliable source you've got there! What's coming up next, Voice of America assessing the future of Iran?

But no doubt that US international power is waning. There's a natural cycle in such things that's hard to avoid. Being the dominant power makes the value of life for your citizens much higher than it is for your enemies. The dominant power has a harder time stomaching large losses of its own. So it overspends trying to win wars with money, runs down its resources, and loses its advantage.

A large part of the reason the US military is so inefficient dollar-wise is that we spend huge amounts on technology minimizing risk to our soldiers, and on their comfort. I'm not saying they don't deserve it. But when an army like that goes up against local zealots, especially in a slow, tit-for-tat guerrilla war of attrition, the local zealots can inflict massive economic losses on the dominant power with relatively few resources.

I would say the main strategic problem for the US is the conflation of "holy land" dogma with its desire to dominate Persian Gulf oil. US elites tend to believe that these can go hand in hand, that by having a strong military ally in the holy land, Israel, the US gains a foothold in the region aiding the domination of Persian Gulf oil. In fact Israel and especially hardliners like Netanyahoo horribly undermine US strategy, facilitating an Islamic nexus of zealous resistance to "holy land" dogma with economic resistance to US dominance of the Gulf. The US has become so bogged down trying to fight that nexus on so many fronts, it is indeed spending down its wealth and losing influence. Which is felt everywhere. Look especially at Ukraine and Turkey, the two cruxes of Eurasian geopolitics.

rapier's picture

No other empire had nuclear weapons. By which I mean to imply that we will lash out as  we continue our relative decline.  Millions and millions will  have to pay.  On the other hand the empire was created by and for the modern business corporation in partnership with government.  Multi national corporations are essentially sovereign now and do not need the traditional military backed empire and they certainly don't want to pay for it.  The military expansion into every other nation on earth does not serve the purpose of corporations but is rather a product of two things.  First is the use of nationalism and finding enemies in order to maintain and expand political power by political parties and groups.  The other pertains to the military itself seeking to expand its own power.  The military is a sort of third political force with its own elites. 

Beyond the problem of money which is now roiling the system which will be resolved in some way I believe by having a new sort of super money for corporations and the elites it is how corporate power can reach agreement with military power which will determine the course of what is left of governance and the state. Militarism always has a certain contempt of what is called 'business'.  Business on the other hand doesn't give a shit about the miltary.  However corporations will more and more need military and police power to protect its assets so that will probably be the way they find a common goal.  Those seeking to harm corporations will become the enemy.


CEOoftheSOFA's picture

I agree that the US military spending is bankrupting the country.  Politicians from both parties are paid off by the defense contractors to perpetuate this.


I disagree that our military might is what made the US a powerful empire.  I think the US became a powerful economic power first, before WWI, and a military power after WWI.  The historians simply don't recognise the economic power. 

Military spending has always been bankrupting the country.  Only now the economic power not sufficient to pay for it.

Nearly every war we have been in since the Revolution has been unnecessary.  Iraq and Vietnam were started under a false pretext. 

WW2 was unnecessary.  We had a situation where we had 2 enemies that were fighting each other, USSR and Germany.  They would have beaten each other into another dark Age if we had just left them alone.  On December 7, 1941, if we hadn't let our guard down we could have repelled the Japanese and sent them to sleep with the fish.  If we had done that, we may not have had to declare war on Japan.  So we fought Japan because we had been embarrased. 

WWI was such a waste of time, it goes without saying. 

Spanish American War - another false pretext.

Civil War - an unnecessary war if there ever was one.  A total political breakdown followed by a warmonger, Lincoln, who didn't even attempt a peaceful solution.

War of 1812, declared unnecessary by both sides.

The Revolutionary war was the only war of the people, by the people, and for the people. 

HungrySeagull's picture

The united States was a Isolationist Power prior to participation in World War One.

The War was already ground down into trenches and has been part of geological evidence by the time the USA joined the war with it's fresh doughboys. If I am not mistaken, the Germans sunk several USA Ships which caused great loss of life.

Adolpf Hitler understood war in Europe. Take each nation one by one and own it all. He did not learn what Napoleon learned from USSR and lost. USSR was very well supported by our Convoy system just long enough until they can bring in vast untapped resources to bear on Germany after Stalingrad.

Imagine for one moment Stalingrad was won by Germany. Iran oil and all the things beyond will be thiers and not really accessible by bombers from the UK and other places.

Finally Hitler did not understand the Sea. He had plans in place to invade the UK and it may have done some damage. It is fortunate that the United States with it's vast Economic, Industrial and total support from it's people not only replace shipping losses to UBoats, but built everything else as well.

Japan was already a top Military power with specific goals and war experience. Her Zeros and Pilots as well as the Military has been working on Pearl Harbor for many months to try and catch our Carriers. Sink our Carriers (And maybe wreck the battleships too..) and they will be in position to invade. Our aircraft were no match but were in some cases successful.


They also did miss vast stockpiles of fuels in different forms needed by the USA to prosecute a war against Japan for months. Should Japan have been able to wipe this fuel out that is it.

Fortunately the Carriers were away on exercise. Fortunately we were able to raise the sunk battleships to participate in future invasions towards Japan. I don't think that we will ever see a total war as we did against Japan at the time. Operation Olympic was planned for late 1945 as we got ready to invade the homeland itself of Japan. Something over a million plus GI's would have been thrown in.

The American Civil War had to be fought and settle some issues that has been festering within the USA Family for decades. There were States Rights, Southern Economic power based on Plantations against Northern Industry as well as the Kansas and California Problem among other issues at the time. Some say the war has never been over. There are things in that war that is still echoing today in some parts of our Nation.

I hope we dont get into another one. This one would be most vicious, fast and just basically kill the Union. One state can provide some goods or another state can provide raw materials, a third state can do this or that for billing and paperwork to make it all run. The point is no part of the USA can stand alone. All the states need to work together.

The War of 1812 settled the problem of Britian stopping our US Flagged and US owned ships and "Impressioning" US Citizens/Sailors into the British Navy under the rules of the King and Naval Disclipine against thier will.

Sure the British invaded the USA in several places and had some success but ultimately were stopped by a Peace Treaty.

But later on during the American Civil War at times the French and British were unloading Muntions and equippting soldiers for possible deployment to the USA. Those were very sensitive times for everyone.

The Revolutionary War set in motion events where each of the 13 colonies learned to pull together and establish a great nation. At the time we were what? 9 million? of that number 3 million were loyal to the Crown.

George Washington picked out Harpers Ferry West Virginia as a place for a Federal Arms factory because it is very difficult to get to that place and it can be pretty safe to manufacture arms. Brandywine is another place as well.

Fort Ticonderoga was kept by 50 bored British Troops who were all captured in a short time and the resulting haul of the Artillery was useful.

Finally the Revolutionary war sorted out a pecking order. There were many people who thought that they alone should decide what is what. Washington settled it quite well I would think. Franklin kept the French happy enough to lend support and I think it worked out well in the end. But again a small number of farmers and merchantmen against what was then the world's greatest super power was pretty unequal.

I believe the war was sparked by very smart people who saw the problem and needed something to be done and when the shooting did start, the rest of the people realized that they personally had choices to make and make do with the situation.

It is in our Nature to have wars when it suits one or the other.

Wars may be unnecessary. But world war one was sparked by a Assasination in Europe and everyone sort of fell into line afterwards. Once you have enough snow piled up gravity takes over and pulls it all down.

Finally as far as the Economic Power. The railroads, Canals and the shipping was the power at the time. It only improved. There was in the 1900's a great industrial progress that truly combined military, economic and civilian needs and served them all.

The Interstate System reduced travel time from weeks to days. Eventually the Wiring of the USA followed by cell towers and later the Internet makes that reduction even greater. I can sit here and type something where a certain percentage will agree with it, a certain percentage will disagree, argue the case and sometimes junk it and a certain percentage of future generations who have yet to be born and will read this a thousand years or more later... will sit and wonder what kind of people we must have been.

World War Three would have been necessary. The resulting stone age would have been unnecessary. Who think that we would be fighting terriorsts and zealots from Islam. We have been fighting since the Crusades in one form or another and this kind of fighting will never be settled until something else shows up to settle it all pernamently.

What do you have when you have Nation out of work, with no money and unable to provide basic needs for themselves, thier children and unable to secure a place to raise families and continue with what we have been doing for thousands of years.

We are going to be a very unhappy people and that would be so unnecessary.

anony's picture

How much can the defense budget be cut and still provide for the greatest miltary power?

Just a wild guess but 50% wouldn't be too far off.

However, the military-industrial (and that includes the 'consulting' firms that retired generals and other types manage to associate with at the end of their, ahem, military careers) total employment if reduced by half, would throw hundreds of thousands more onto the unemployment lines. The defense department is a global conduit, for corruption, bribery, lying, theft, money laundering, and you name it that the 'government' has ever devised to separate the people who actually produce something from their earnings.  

The military is not only a defense organization, it has morphed into an employer of last resort for people who can't or won't do anything else, much like most other government employees. Add the pensions, health care, and educations in Medicine and other careers that the taxpayers pay for training hundreds of thousands each year and it is painfully obvious that the defense department is as the author states, a horrible tax burden on the backs of taxpayers, the dollar's value, and our slide into eventual disaster.  The Defense department is the biggest boondoggle in the history of our country.

Congratulations to those who recognized this early on and have made a mockery of defending the country for their own very personal self-interest.


Military Power - Not Gold or the USD or the Renminbi - is the Real Coin of the Global Realm

Without exception every financial writer has completely missed the point in the ongoing speculation as to whether or not the US dollar will be replaced or not as the worlds reserve currency.

It will. Here’s why.

China and Russia must work together to topple the American dollar as the world’s reserve currency. They simply don’t have any other option. It’s declare financial war on the US dollar or accept military conquest and slavery.

Suppose Russia had built up dozens of military bases in Canada and that China had built up dozens of military bases in Mexico and suppose that the US Government was making it all possible by loaning those two governments endless billions and rolling over their debt on an ongoing basis even though both were defaulting by cranking ever more IOUs like Bernie Madeoff on crystal meth. If that were the case every last American talking head would be foaming at the mouth and demanding that this lunacy be stopped at once. “Why are we feeding divisions of Chinese infantry just south of the Rio and why are we buying the gasoline for the thousands of Russian tanks just on the other side of the Great lakes?”

Do you understand what I’m driving at now? What I’ve just described above is exactly the quandary the Russians and Chinese find themselves in right now because we have surrounded them with an ever expanding super cluster of military bases while we foment subversion within their countries and prop up hostile puppet regimes on their borders.

How did we arrive at this horrid state of affairs? Let’s take a quick trip back to the end of World War Two in 1945. Every major nation except the USA had been bombed nearly back to the stone age and/or bled white. The only money accepted for trade between nations was the Almighty US Dollar. Not only that, but the USA was the only nation that at that time could offer vast quantities of capital goods of all sorts and they were usually the finest on the entire planet to boot. We lived in the best of all possible economic worlds. All the money we sent overseas was either returned to us to buy capital goods necessary for these shattered nations to rebuild themselves or it just circulated overseas to finance trade among foreign nations in which case we had a sort of credit card with no limit and no requirement to pay down either the principal or the interest.

No lets fast forward and take a cold, sober look at how things changed. Starting in the Seventies we increasingly stopped making things while the foreigners were increasingly making capital goods and consumer goods that were comparable to ours in both quantity and quality. American factory workers started to loose their good paying jobs but the Wall Street financial types were still on a roll because the dollar was still the coin of the global realm.

Then about the late Nineties things started to change. In late December 1999 one Euro was worth about one USD. Now, ten years later, one Euro is worth $1.27. In 1999 Putin clawed his way to the top of the heap in Russia after their bond default in 1998. Since then he has run the worst of the looting buzzards clean out of the country. Most flapped their greasy wings and found new roosts in London or America where the pickings are still easy. And of course by that time China was the supplier of cheap consumer goods to America putting and end to all the light manufacturing jobs in America. In 1996 Russia and China decided they had had a belly full of American Imperium and founded a political/economic/military alliance which is now known as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the SCO.

Name one (non-military) capital good or valuable commodity that can only be purchased in America and not elsewhere. There isn’t a single one. Whether you’re talking machine tools or computers or bulldozers or medical equipment or locomotives or chemicals - all of these can be had from sources outside the USA and of at least equal quality. In 1945 the picture of the USA was huge eagle perched on the top of the globe. Today were more like Wiley Coyote who has just run himself off a cliff and is momentarily suspended in mid air just before the inevitable fall.

About the sole potential foreign exchange earner of consequence we have left is our agriculture production and if we export that (which we will) we’ll have famine here and non-stop food riots that will morph into a civil war that will depopulate the entire North American continent by at least 50%.

Don’t believe me? Suit yourself. Two years ago who would have believed that we’d be in a depression two years down the road. That was Black Swan Number One. His big brother is Black Swan Number Two and he makes his kid brother look like a tweety bird because he brings a famine that will culminate in a 3,000 mile long cannibal civil war. Black Swan Number Three is WWIII war with Russia and China to distract the remaining peasants so they won’t storm the Wall Street castle and march all the Lords off to the Guillotine.

May the Cyclops eat you next to Last

Attila the Wimp














Sudden Debt's picture

Just like every great civilization, the army aparatus kills it in the end.

moneymutt's picture

"There are budget items way bigger than the Military" - can you name them, I can - Medicare and Soc Security.. I say you stand up 10s of thousands of grandmas and grandpas and tell them, we chose to keep our many bases in Germany, or Okinawa, or in the UK, rather than paying out the benefits you paid FICA for....

Ropingdown's picture

We pay out far more in SS and Medicare than the current recipients ever paid in. When the ratio of paid in to benefits grew beyond wildest imaginings, the politicians just say "don't worry, we'll keep that concept going." No. The means don't exist. We haven't come to terms with the true price of endless medical tech developments and the effect of inflation on requirements to pay in MUCH more than was paid in during past decades. These realities will be fixed, arbitrated, or we will simply go broke, not be able to pay our debts. It isn't harsh to place limits on medical spending. Of course military spending needs to be reined in as a natural consequence of curbing our politicans' desire to use the military as an answer to political questions, and as a source ear-marked district benefits.  Our spending (and taxing) problems are a matter of sense and balance. We face no "all or none" type problems.  Lest you forget, lots of the "grandmas and grandpas" were spendthrifts in their younger years.  They fought higher taxes then, but want it all now.  On average this is true. They carried Reagan and Bush. Now they want it all.  We can't afford it.

moneymutt's picture

agreed that recipients get more than they paid in...but FICA does pay for Soc Security and Medicare, and Soc Security is solvent for many years, Medicare is an issue and medical care inflation must be addressed. And I agree, older Americans totally get over in terms of generational benefits.

I think Soc Sec and Medicare have been kept as seperate "funds" in peoples mind so that their funding would always have to come from working people rather than rich contributing. I think of Soc Security as simply welfare for older people, which I think is a fine idea, if applied rationally for our times (like rethinking retirment age) and has means testing. Reagan "fixed" soc security and medicare by raising FICA taxes greatly which only applies to wages, not dividends and other forms of income, and you do not even pay for past 100k of wages), they greatly increase FICA at the same time they greatly lowered tax rates on the rich...hmmmm.

So lets just say FICA is not seperate, but we just consider FICA for the tax it is, how should we then adjust our budgets?  I certainly think we can find efficiencies in medical spending, but really, military spending should be the priority to cut.

HungrySeagull's picture

I call BULL.

This Nation was BUILT when Congress and Private Citizens raised money to train, equipt and maintain a Armed Forces on land, sea and eventually in the air to fight all enemies.

The Military is not what breaking the USA.

There are budget items way bigger than the Military.

In fact didnt Congress just "Deem" a blank peice of paper as a budget passed for this year? Bascially NO budget at all.


The Military provides this Country industry to maintain and equipt it.

There is no price higher than that which keeps us free. And they say that sometimes people are going to be required to bleed and sometimes die so that the USA may continue to exist as a free nation.

There are so much waste, poverty and crap that goes on with the Pols, Civilians etc within the USA alone while we break ourselves overseas trying to build up Nations that we have defeated proper in battle and to feed children living in dirt villages through Church based programs while thousands of US Citizens huddle under our bridges and in the woods homeless near our towns and cities for a variety of reasons.


We have battled and conqured debt that threatened our home. Free and clear. We have made job adjustments so that we are able to continue to live within our means. We dont have very much money but certainly are trying to be good to the USA by staying out of trouble, not to be a burden anywhere and to try and help our neighbors a little bit.

We are not goodies and we are not saints. But I will be goddamned if anything or anyone thinks that we live free and safe from danger because the military is deemed a financial threat to the USA. I wont accept it.

Let me tell you this. I take my Spouse to the VA for over 10 years when I need to. I have seen the VA take care of 100 vets during the week day 8 to 4 monday through friday and increase that number to about.... 250-325 by noon and maybe 450 or so by 5 PM each day. Everyone who went to the VA for whatever reason still gets taken care of.


Don't be fooled into believing that somehow the cost to train, clothe, equipt and keep a US Soldier, Sailor, Marine and Airman in his beans, coffee, bullets and whatever else he or she needs to execute in Peace or War a enormous drain on the USA.


We Managed to BREAK the USSR with a great bluff decades ago by making THEM spend so much money to try and keep up with us. They could not do it.


What will break the USA is the children who become obese, unfit for service and have no proper parents and grow up to be very bad people who wish not to accept, volunteer for and submit to the necessary disclipine, education, training and reach for something greater than themselves.

They sit on the street corner and deal dope at all hours of the day and night. THAT is a liability we cannot afford.

Dont get me started on Illegal immigrants.

And DONT try to tell me that those who passed basic, earned a place in our Military, served and fought successfully to earn thier own place as US Citizens. These are our best and brightest and as long as we have these young people doing what needs to be doing then everything will be worked out.

A long time ago, to even suggest that somehow the USA does not need a military because somehow it is too expensive borders on treason and slaps the face of everyone who has been in, a family of or somehow connected to the entire Military in some capacity.

Dburn's picture

So what your saying is that you think it's A-Ok that the DoD can't explain where 25% of it's budget goes? That no accounting system has been installed that can give auditors any confidence in issuing an opinion and that as a result we should just keep throwing more and more money at the complex because it's patriotic?

Thomas Barrett , a Neo-con, pro-military to 100% , states unequivocally that if the job was the only depend the United States , the annual costs would be 100 Billion. How can that be reconciled with 700 Billion in costs, plus pensions, intelligence agencies and all the black money that is accounted for , it's just the mysterious 25% or 175 Billion a year. This has been ongoing since WW11. The accumulated total is in the trillions and as the budget grows, so will the waste to where the waste itself could easily be equal to our annual interest costs on debt.

 Present h'arms, ready, aim, fire.

Myzery's picture

 the annual costs would be 100 Billion.

100 billion for what? "America?" 


Stop measuring U.S. Military costs in debt/dollars. At least static dollars. 


(It truely pains me to do this)

2009 US Oil imports: 4,279,908,000 bbls

2009 Coalition forces casualties: 671

6,378,402 bbls/casualty.


If u wanna use dollars.....

Total U.S. Foreign Debt: $1.9 trillion in FY2009



GW can you add these factors back into analysis and show me what numbers you come up with? 


Wanna reduce the cost of our military? Make them leaner, meaner, more bad ass with high tech, energy efficient, minimal lethality defense systems and unbeliveable information networks. Theres a reason the military invented the satellite, the Internet. To reduce cost.


Also, stop using so much fucking oil if you want to truely reduce the cost of the military and our debt. I'm trying but it's hard. It's like swimming upstream.

RockyRacoon's picture

I'm not so sure I want a military full of these guys:

Cathartes Aura's picture

+ rumsfeld's "missing" trillion(s)

Seer's picture

"We Managed to BREAK the USSR with a great bluff decades ago by making THEM spend so much money to try and keep up with us. They could not do it."

Why can't you people get it?  On one hand you blather on and on about how bad the commie state was, and on the other you state how it was such a big threat.  Bad systems can NOT scale!  That's what happened.  The military spending issue has been proven wrong (only the old Reagan right-wing folks believe this crap).  The Soviet Union was going to collapse no matter what the US did!  It was rotting from the inside out!  And that will, and is, occurring in the US now: a lack of real production; used to be a saying in the Soviet Union- you pretend to pay us so we pretend to work.

We were played by the militay-industrial-complex.  Sigh, the last good republican president -Eisenhower- warned us about this!

CEOoftheSOFA's picture

Not only that but we knew the USSR was on it's last legs in the mif 1970's. 

singsing's picture

"We Managed to BREAK the USSR with a great bluff decades ago by making THEM spend so much money to try and keep up with us. They could not do it."

True but I would add that they spent so much while oil revenue was shrinking due the low prices.

Ironic that America may fail due to precisely the opposite.  The abilty of the military to project power and allow access to strategic resources is suffering from diminishing returns.  The investment no longer yields what it once did and may be turning negative.

The benefits won't justify the expense in a world of finite resources.  It's a war that can't be won.

Money Squid's picture

The military is the muscle behind our politcal and economic policies. If money, hookers, drugs and favors do not get us what we want we send in the military to take it. There are about 700+ bases in the 200+ countries and these based are to project power, used as a means to deliver economic support (soldiers, sailor, airmen and marines spend their money in the towns), and as a means to gather info and influence politics. Chalmers Johnson writes about the pros and cons of this strategy in Sorrows of Empire.


To stay "number one" we need to muscle into and control areas that have the resources we need to keep our ever expanding economy growing and to keep out competitors out. The Saudis did not have a choice they had to sell us their oil, and at the low prices we set for them. We also allowed them to hike the price in the early 70s during the "oil embargo." Then, when the Saudi's reaped huge petrodollar profits from inflated oil prices we allowed the Saudis to secretly spend their pertodollars purchasing hundreds of billions of dollars of treasuries from the NY Fed. There was no actual recycling of petrodollars in world financial markets, most of the petrodollars were captured by the US and used to build our economy. Inflation was a hidden tax on the Saudi investments. David Spiro describes this process and its effects in his book The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony, Petrodollar Recycling and International Markets.  The Saudis support our military that controls them. Saudis were also required to spend hundreds of billions of their petrodollars on ginormous infrastructure projects, also growing our economy. John Perkins wrote about his role in this, but I forgot which of his books this is detailed in.


Sadam's problem was that after we F'd him by supplying 2,000 TOW anti tank missles to Iran he did not want to pay american companies for massive infrastructre projects or allow the US oil majors access to Iraqi oil fields, I have read several articles that Sadam was on the verge of finalizing contracts with China for oil field exploration and production. He thumbed his nose at us and first threatened, then actually started to price Iraqi oil in Euros ("petroeuro"), thus the petrodollar - eurodollar war broke out. We needed the massive mililtary to crush Sadam, take control of Iraq and take out the Iraqi petroeuro market and put back the petrodollar and prevent China from getting a foothold.

Why do we keep threatening Iran? Iran threatens to open their oil bourse and accept not only euros but many different currencies, which is their threat to destablize the dollar.

The military is just part of our economic model and we need to continuously increase the size, reach and capability of our military to support our need for an ever expanding economy, but of course the world and it's resources are limited so where is the dead end?

Now where to I get a ticket for the "... a flaming bus full of strippers and coke ..."

Ropingdown's picture

I note that Iran recently fled from its Euro position, and announced that all its oil sales would be in dollars.  I'm not sure they acted quickly enough. Time will tell. In all this "resources" talk people seem to forget that the US, Canada and the US, represent about the most resource-sufficient place on earh. Food. Fuel. Water. People. Technology.  We fight in the world more to stabilize the global economy, and thus our own, than to get resources directly.  For us oil to Japan and China is also important, for obvious reasons.

Myzery's picture

Great info. Thanks for sharing. This more acurately sums up the impacts of U.S. global hedgemony then I ever could. You must have an econ PhD? =)


The military is just part of our economic model and we need to continuously increase the size, reach and capability of our military to support our need for an ever expanding economy...

Bingo. Once Developed Nationals stop lying to themselves about this fact the faster we can move on to solving:

...but of course the world and it's resources are limited so where is the dead end?


Everyone seems to think we're on a bus (Hybrid, of course) of nuns and flaxseed oil, cruzing along, with no cliffs in sight....

Maybe we're already on the bus with hookers and coke but just don't know it?

it aint paranoia if they really are out too harm you's picture

Maybe we're already on the bus with hookers and coke but just don't know it?




Fred C Dobbs's picture

As I understand it, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor so they could invade and control Indonisian oil.  What they thought was in their national interest wound up destroying their nation. 

When the ruling class in the US uses the word we they are not including you and I.  If their empire dreams become reality you will not be getting a discount on resources.  Besides America is fighting all of these wars for altruistic reasons not resources.  We're the good guys.  I saw it on tv. 



Ropingdown's picture

An hour on Google Earth should convince you that the earth is large and we are, in aggregate, small. We do not face a future of limited inputs.  Our problem is that the human population is infected with many very dysfunctional concepts of political organization. Our governments are infected with leaders (some, not all) who care about their power and wealth more than the nation or state they serve.  Yes, 300 to 1 CEO salaries are insane and indicate corruption. Yes, more submarines for Greece is insane and corrupt.  Yes, the devaluation of women, whether Catholic, Muslim, Pashtun, or Chinese, is a path backwards.  There is a shortage of brains put to good use.  There is an excess of angry young men swayed by wily and corrupt old men. Fix these. Or die trying. Convince a wind-mill fan or oil exec that nuclear power is better, greener, and that other technologies must not be squelched by patent purchasing and freezing.  Be smart. Let your appetites find efficient paths with a future.

Cathartes Aura's picture

There is an excess of angry young men swayed by wily and corrupt old men. Fix these.

you mean like "fix" as in vet snips?  sounds like a plan. . .

moneymutt's picture

so we are the mob, and our military is our muscle...sounds about right...but many organized crime syndicates end up ruining a profitable thing by too much violence...

HCSKnight's picture

What's going on with the contributors lately?  Another piece that clearly demonstrates a deep ignorance of reality.

Washington, you maybe a smart guy when it comes to balance sheets and financial forensics, but when it comes understanding things outside of such .... you're failing.



moneymutt's picture

what's going on with ZH posters these days...complaining about a diversity of legit analyses....and stating someone is ignorant of reality with no counter-evidence or counter-analysis presented...that is so beneath a ZH poster, you got better ideas, facts...put them out there.

There are some very smart think tanks types, former military among them, that say our military costs are not needed and are killing us, Ike, someone who knew the military well warned us...but I gues just because you said GW is failing, and you are such an authority, we should just take your word for it, unlike GW, you can't seem to bother actually present an analysis, some evidence, some argument..

Money Squid's picture

I recall watching the DVD of Why We Fight with the opening seen of Ike warning us of the military-industrial complex. I watched the extras on the DVD and there was an interview with Ike's grandaughter, I believe and she stated Ike's original version was regarding the military-industrial-congressional complex, but he decided to leave out the congressional part for not wanting to offend his friends in the congress. If I recall correctly they show on the DVD the original notes where Ike scratched out the word congressional.

I think Ike failed to realize it his warning was too late. Having Allen Dulles as head of the CIA while at the same time his brother John Foster Dulles was the Secretary of State gave a small group of people control over the intelligence/political apparatus. I think Allen Dulles was a wall street banker too, no?

moneymutt's picture

I have heard Ike's grandaughter say same thing on shows like Bill Maher.

Remember tho, Ike did let military/CIA do a lot of awful, covert things that had horrible consequences. Ike was maybe against military running policy and against wasteful military spending, but he was not opposed to US non-democratic imperialism of other countries. So here's a guy that was by no means adverse to American's meddling massively in other countries that posed no threat to us, other than demanding more money for the resources, a guy that wanted US to have empire, and even he was critical of the over influence of military.


yes, the still huge money still spent on military is interesting because it seems almost anachronistic in terms of building empires, because as Michael Hudson sums up well, the world's people are being set back centuries and robbed of a good share of the productivity of their resources and labor by the financial-industrial complex. IMF, world bank, "independent" central banks do not need guns and missiles, just loans and currencies, to parasite the world. That the military-industrial shadow leaders also are involved in finance and the fact the Wall Street and big oil are the biggest corrupters of Congress currently show a seamless transition of tactics.

I still can't believe no one was talking about what Cantor, the second in charge of Republicans in Congress and their chief fundraiser, said as financial reform bills were being debate in Congress that Wall Street, he said Wall Street had "buyers remorse" in regards to the money they had given to Democratic candidates. So money does buy influence in Congress like you guys always deny? And Wall Street is buying both parties? And you brag publicly in a newspaper that Wall Street is happier with Repubs performance, and this makes you happy because you can get more donations from Wall Street now? A lead politician says this openly and no one cares...guess it explains why these greedy, morally bankrupt military, financial people can take all our money a do evil things with it...we let them and are proud of it.

bayou_plumber's picture

If we paid more attention to the the actions of our elected officials and called them out in a big way when they screwed up many of the ills expressed here would be eliminated. I hope we continue to support our military capability. There are many strong opinions over this posting. Our ability to express our opinions openly like we do here has been paid for by many military men and women fighting for our rights to freedom. No we are not perfect, just look at what has happened due to the incompetence of our SEC, our Congress, and our current administration. Only when we hold these people accountable will there be real change. The spiral of corruption in government is more dangerous than our military spending or the military budget. The corruption will kill this country quicker than a strong Navy.

Muir's picture

Yuri Orlov: The reason I'll be released is the same reason you think I'll be convicted. I do rub shoulders with some of the most vile, sadistic men calling themselves leaders today. But some of these men are the enemies of your enemies. And while the biggest arms dealer in the world is your boss - the President of the United States, who ships more merchandise in a day than I do in a year - sometimes it's embarrassing to have his fingerprints on the guns. Sometimes he needs a freelancer like me to supply forces he can't be seen supplying. So. You call me evil, but unfortunately for you, I'm a necessary evil.

it aint paranoia if they really are out too harm you's picture

"Yori Orlov" got old a post or two ago.  We got your point.  I even agree with it.  How about something from Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn?


If I remember correctly, he got a rude awkening upon visiting this country and seeing the decay.

Myzery's picture

Your 'our' evil.


Ropingdown's picture

I would point out that the biggest arms seller in the world, per capita, is that nice neutral nation of Sweden.  It's a lovely country with a good ethos, but it sells weapons like crazy, and has for decades.  Alt som dig gör är precis lagom, nej? Arms dealers profit when nations govern themselves badly. Mexico is a good example.  Pakistan is a good example.  Somalia and the Congo are great examples. Decaying elites who govern badly set their people up for hell. Perhaps these elites were colonial.  Perhaps they were native.  Perhaps they came to power as religious leaders. No matter. Arms dealers simply provide hell's fire, for a price, and only where demand exists.  These are often turned on the elites, not only the common man.