US to double its ‘defense’ budget

The US is left with a choice – further escalate, not only with Russia, but the rest of the world as well, or find an off-ramp. Otherwise, its inflation will surge so much that the “doubling” of the Pentagon’s budget will happen on its own.

Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst

Back in late March, top American General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the United States of America would be doubling its military budget in case the Kiev regime was defeated by Russia. At the time, Milley claimed that “not supporting Ukraine now would lead to a massive increase in future defense budgets”. He also added that “it would lead to a global conflict that has been avoided since World War II ended”.

“If that rules-based order, which is in its 80th year, if that goes out the window, then be very careful,” Milley said while testifying before the US Congress on March 23, further adding: “We’ll be doubling our defense budgets at that point because that will introduce not an era of great power competition. That’ll begin an era of great power conflict. And that’ll be extraordinarily dangerous for the whole world.”

Firstly, it should be noted that Milley’s remark about the so-called “rules-based (world) order” supposedly lasting 80 years is completely misplaced. The geopolitical situation in the last three decades has merely been a shadow of the post-WWII globalorder. With the US conducting virtually incessant aggression against the entire world, any notion that there are actual rules that equally apply to everyone is beyond laughable. However, his claim that Washington DC would need to double its “defense” spending is much more serious and consequential. Ironically, he’s threatening to do that while “warning” about a looming global conflict, one which is solely caused by the US itself, as it’s the only country on the planet with an openly stated strategy of “full spectrum dominance”. 

Milley testified before the House Appropriations Committee-Defense on the next year’s DoD (Department of Defense) budget, alongside Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. The figure for the Pentagon officially stands at $842 billion, $69 billion more than the $773 billion the military requested for 2023. However, the total spending on national “defense”, including work on nuclear weapons (officially under the jurisdiction of the Department of Energy), pushes that up to $886 billion. This is without including the so-called “aid” for the Kiev regime, which stood at approximately $113 billion at the beginning of 2023. However, the updated figure is now getting closer to $150 billion and there’s no indication that it will stop growing any time soon.

General Milley has repeatedly described the conflict in Ukraine as “an important national interest” and “fundamental to the United States, to Europe and to global security”. It could be argued that it’s neither of those things, as the world, the EU and the US itself all have more pressing concerns. Unfortunately, this notion is extremely unlikely to lead to any peaceful settlement, especially as the US Military Industrial Complex (MIC) keeps getting its windfall. While some members of Congress have consistently been skeptical about the “aid” for the Kiev regime, the majority still have a strong preference for the official narrative. The skeptics usually cite “the US and Kiev regime’s failure to more clearly define their strategic goals” as the primary reason for the lack of “more adamant support”.

This clearly indicates that the only “strategic goal” is to keep the war going for as long as possible, which also explains the repeated calls for the perpetual increase of the Pentagon’s budget. However, Milley’s call for doubling it is a major escalation and it’s unclear how exactly Washington DC is planning to achieve such a monumental task. Global military spending for 2022 was around $2.1 trillion, meaning that the US is already at over 40% of the world’s total with its current budget. Doubling it, even over the next several years (also taking into account other superpowers would certainly respond to it) could push that figure close to 60%. In terms of the US federal budget, it would also require further cuts to investment in healthcare, infrastructure, education, etc.

As the military currently spends approximately 15% of the entire US federal budget, obviously, doubling it would mean the percentage would go up to (or even over) 30%. Such figures are quite close to what the former Soviet Union was spending in terms of its overall budget, which was one of the major factors that contributed to its unfortunate dismantlement. On the other hand, it also forces others to drastically increase their own military spending. If China were to follow suit, its military budget would then be close to $500 billion, with Russia’s military budget approaching $200 billion. This would cause a military spending “death spiral” that would be extremely difficult (if possible at all) to control, leading the world into an unprecedented arms race.

However, this “new” Cold War could potentially be far more dangerous than the “old” one, as there would be approximately half a dozen superpowers and great powers competing for influence and a bigger geopolitical footprint. On the other hand, if the rest of the world refuses to respond in kind, such a massive increase in US military spending would only push the multipolar world into greater integration, as it would be the only way to counter US aggression without doubling their own military budgets. Either way, the US is left with a choice – further escalate, not only with Russia, but the rest of the world as well, or find an off-ramp. Otherwise, its inflation will surge so much that the “doubling” of the Pentagon’s budget will happen on its own.

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