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In the post-Cold War era, the US continues to devote a disproportionate percentage of its wealth to developing and maintaining extraordinary military capabilities. Most countries cut back on their armed forces in the aftermath of the Cold War, but US spending went up. Between 2001 and 2010 the US defense budget increased by 128 percent. In 2003, the US spent $417 billion on defense, 47 percent of the world total. In 2008, it spent 41 percent of its national budget on the military and its two ongoing wars. In absolute terms this was twice the total of Japan, Russia, the UK, Germany, and China combined. On 16 March 2017, President Trump submitted his request to Congress for $639 billion in military spending, which represented a 10 percent increase over Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. With a total federal budget of $3.9 trillion for FY2018, the increase in military spending is predicated on deep cuts to many other federal agencies and domestic programs, as well as the State Department. For FY2019, Trump’s budget would boost military spending by $94 billion.
The Pentagon has used its funding to establish a global military reach; it is the only state with this capability.
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Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI Yearbook 2011 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 158.
SIPRI, “The Major Spenders in 2003,” http://www.sipri.se.
SIPRI Yearbook 2011, p. 9.
Zachary Cohen, “Trump proposes $54 billion defense spending hike,” CNN, 26 March 2017, https://edition.cnn.com/2017/03/16/politics/donald-trump-defense-budget-blueprint/index.html; Andrew Taylor, “Trump budget would slash domestic programs to boost military,” Boston Globe, 16 March 2017, https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2017/03/16/trump-unveils-trillion-budget/5Wa4rRxxdgrrBBqrSueUjO/story.html (both accessed 12 October 2018).
Global Issues, “World Military Spending,” 25 February 2007, http://www.globalissues.org/Geopolitics/ArmsTrade/Spending.asp#USMilitarySpending; Christopher Hellman, “Highlights of the Fiscal Year 2008 Pentagon Spending Request,” 5 February 2007, available at www.armscontrolcenter.org.
Katrina Manson, “The Future of War,” Financial Times Magazine, 17–18 November 2018, pp. 12–10.
Karen DeYoung, “Bush Proclaims Victory,” Washington Post, 2 May 2003, p. A1.
Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, “Costs of War Project: The $5.6 Trillion Price Tag of the Post-9/11 Wars.” https://watson.brown.edu/news/2017/costs-war-project-56-trillion-price-tag-post-911-wars (accessed 12 October 2018); Philip Bump, “15 years after the Iraq War began, the death toll is still murky,” Washington Post, 20 March 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2018/03/20/15-years-after-it-began-the-death-toll-from-the-iraq-war-is-still-murky/?utm_term=.38439b834b69 (accessed 17 November 2018).
Associated Press, “Civilian deaths in Afghan war rise to highest level in ten years,” Guardian, 25 February 2019, p. 21.
Daniel Trotta, “Iraq war costs US more than $2 trillion: study,” Reuters, 14 March 2013, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-war-anniversary-idUSBRE92D0PG20130314 (accessed 9 October 2018).
David Wood, “Iraq Reconstruction Cost US $60 Billion, Left Behind Corruption And Waste,” Huffington Post, 3 June 2013, https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/iraq-reconstruction_n_2819899; Keith Perry, “Afghanistan has cost more to rebuild than Europe after Second World War,” Telegraph, 31 July 2014, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/11004928/Afghanistan-has-cost-more-to-rebuild-than-Europe-after-Second-World-War.html; CBS News, “Much of $60B from US to rebuild Iraq wasted, special auditor’s final report to Congress shows,” 6 March 2013, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/much-of-60b-from-us-to-rebuild-iraq-wasted-special-auditors-final-report-to-congress-shows/; James Risen, “Investigation Into Missing Iraqi Cash Ended in Lebanon Bunker,” New York Times, 12 October 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/world/investigation-into-missing-iraqi-cash-ended-in-lebanon-bunker.html (all accessed 10 October 2018).
Economist, Daily Dispatch, 19 October 2018, https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/FMfcgxvzLFCCHPGvnBkWDkdgzZDhsXnL (accessed 20 October 2018).
Dave Lindorff, “Exclusive: The Pentagon’s Massive Accounting Fraud Exposed,” Nation, 16 November 2018, https://www.thenation.com/article/pentagon-audit-budget-fraud/ (accessed 16 November 2018).
Rosemary Foot, The Wrong War: American Policy and the Dimensions of the Korean Conflict, 1950–1953 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985).
Casey, Selling the Korean War, Propaganda, Politics, and Public Opinion in the United States, 1950–1953 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 326–36.
Leslie Gelb and Richard K. Betts, The Irony of Vietnam: The System Worked (Washington, D. C.: Brookings, 1978); Fredrik Logevall, Embers of War: The Fall of An Empire and The Making of America’s Vietnam (New York: Random House, 2012); David Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson, and the Origins of the Vietnam War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002).
Gerhard L. Weinberg, The Foreign Policy of Hitler’s Germany, 2 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970–80), I, pp. 462–63.
Ted Hopf, Peripheral Visions: Deterrence Theory and American Foreign Policy in the Third World, 1965–1990 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994); Richard Ned Lebow and Janice Gross Stein, We All Lost the Cold War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), ch. 13.
Logevall, Embers of War; Kaiser, American Tragedy.
Logevall, Embers of War; Kaiser, American Tragedy; Personal conversation with McGeorge Bundy, (New York City, 20 April 1990).
Stanley Karnow, Vietnam: A History, 2nd ed. (New York: Penguin, 1997); Max Hastings, Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945–1975 (New York: Harper, 2018).
Robert S. McNamara, James G. Blight, and Robert K. Brigham, Argument Without End: In Search of Answers to the Vietnam Tragedy (New York: Public Affairs, 1999), p. 194.
Ibid., pp. 191, 341–45.
Louis Fisher, Presidential War Power, 3rd ed. rev. (Lawrence, Kans.: University of Kansas Press, 2013).
Neo-Neocon, “Mind is a Difficult Thing to Change: Vietnam Interlude—after the Fall,” 28 April 2005, http://neo-neocon.blogspot.com/2005/04/mind-is-difficult-thing-to-change.html, “Breaking the Big Stick: Removing the Threat of War to Achieve Peace,” 31 May 2007, http://neoneocon.com/category/war/vietnam/; Robert Buzzanaco, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Vietnam and Iraq,” Counterpunch, 16–17 April 2005, http://www.counterpunch.org/buzzanco04162005.html. For serious analyses, Lembcke, The Spitting Image; Hixon, Historical Memory and Representations of the Vietnam War (New York: New York University Press, 2000).
Steve A. Yetiv, Explaining Foreign Policy: US Decision-Making in the Gulf Wars (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011); William Thomas Allison, The Gulf War, 1990–91 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012); W. Lance Bennett and David L. Paletz, eds., Taken by Storm: The Media, Public Opinion, and US Foreign Policy in the Gulf War (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994).
“What the World Thinks in 2002,” http://people-press.prg/reports/display.php3?ReportID=165. There was overwhelming support in Europe for the war against the Taliban: 73 percent in the UK, 64 percent in France, and 61 percent in Germany.
Colin Powell, “Press Briefing en Route to Cairo Egypt,” 23 February 2001, www.state.gov/secretary/former/powell/remarks/2001/931.htm.
William Kristol and Zalmay Khalilzad, “We Must Lead the War in Deposing Saddam,” Washington Post, 9 November 1997; PNAC Statement of Principles available at the Project for a New American Century website, http://www.newamericancentury.org/statementofprinciples.htm; Bob Woodward, Bush at War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002), p. 349–50; Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor, Cobra II (New York: Pantheon Books, 2006), p. 15, quoting from an interview with Lt.-Gen. Gregory S. Newbold in which he quotes Douglas Feith. Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay, America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy, rev. ed. (Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2005) pp. 163–4; James Fallows, “Blind into Baghdad,” Atlantic Monthly (January/February 2004). Halper and Clarke, Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke, America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 201–31; Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War (New York: Crown, 2006), pp. 33–191 on the public relations campaign by neoconservatives and administration officials to win public support for war against Iraq. Ricks, Thomas E., Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (New York: Penguin, 2006), pp. 13–28 on containment.
Patrick Tyler and Elaine Sciolino, “Bush Advisors Split on Scope of Retaliation,” New York Times, 20 September 2001, p. A5; Bob Woodward and Dan Balz, “At Camp David, Advise and Dissent,” Washington Post, 31 January 2002, p. A1; Richard Cheney on Meet the Press, 16 September 2001, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQBsCIaxMuM (accessed 26 February 2019); Fallows, “Blind into Baghdad”; Purdham, A Time of Our Choosing, p. 10; Woodward, Bush at War, pp. 48–50, 83; James Mann, Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet (New York: Penguin, 2004), p. 302, citing an 18 June 2003 interview with Paul Wolfowitz; Gordon, and Trainor, Cobra II, pp. 14–15, and interview with Francis Brooke, p. 19, on Rumsfeld.
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (New York: Norton, 2004), pp. 334–35; Woodward, State of Denial, pp. 332–34 on the Powell-Bush meeting of 5 August 2002; Transcript of interview with Brent Scowcroft, Face the Nation, 4 August 2002; Brent Scowcroft, “Don’t Attack Saddam,” Wall Street Journal, 15 August 2002, p. A12; Todd Purdum and Patrick E. Tyler, “Top Republicans Break with Bush on Iraq Strategy,” New York Times, 16 August 2002, p. Al; James A. Baker II, “The Right Way to Change a Regime,” New York Times, 25 August 2002, section 4, p. 9; Transcript of Lawrence Eagleburger, Crossfire, 19 August 2002; Interview with Lawrence Eagleburger, Fox News Sunday, Washington, D. C., 18 August 2002; Walter Gibbs, “Scowcroft Urges Wide Role for the U.N. in Postwar Iraq,” New York Times, 9 April 2003; Eric Schmitt, “Iraq is Defiant as G.O.P. Leaders Opposes Attack,” New York Times, 9 August 2002, p. A6; Ricks, Fiasco, pp. 30–32, 50–52: Isikoff and Corn, Hubris, pp. 27–28.
Quoted in Michael Elliot and James Carney, “First Stop Iraq,” Time, 31 March 2003, p. 173; Gordon, and Trainor, Cobra II, p. 17, quoting from an interview with Hugh Shelton. Bush is reported to have said, “We will get this guy but at a time and place of our choosing.” Lott, Herding Cats, pp. 235–36, also reports that Bush indicated his intention to go to war in private conversations with him.
George Bush, “President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat,” October 7, 2002, ( http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/10/20021007-8.html); State of the Union Address, 28 January 2003, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/01/20030128-19.html (both accessed 25 February 2019).
George Bush, State of the Union Address, 28 January 2003, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/01/20030128-19.html (accessed 12 October 2018).
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, pp. 61, 161, 334–35; Iraq Survey Group Final Report, Global Scan, http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/report/2004/isg-final-report/isg-final-report_vol3_cw_key-findings.htm (accessed 4 March 2018).
Karen DeYoung, “Bush Proclaims Victory,” Washington Post, 2 May 2003, p. A1.
Rick’s, Fiasco, pp. 42–43, 66–84, on military dissatisfaction.
Daalder and Lindsay, America Unbound, pp. 143–83; Fallows, “Blind into Baghdad”; David L. Phillips, Losing Iraq: Inside the Postwar Reconstruction Fiasco (Boulder, Co: Westview, 2005); Isikoff and Corn, Hubris, pp. 191–210; Ricks, Fiasco, pp. 149–202; Gordon, and Trainor, Cobra II; Galbraith, End of Iraq, pp. 114–224; Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004); Seymour M. Hersh, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib (New York: Harper, 2004).
Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian, Imperial Ambitions: Conversations in the Post-9/11 World (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2005); “Imperial Ambition,” Interview with Noam Chomsky by David Barsamian, Monthly Review, May 2003, http://www.monthlyreview.org/0503chomsky.htm; “Iraq: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” Michael Albert interviews Noam Chomsky, 27 December 2006, http://www.chomsky.info/articles/20050704.htm; Callinicos, New Mandarins of American Power, pp. 93–98; Phillips, American Dynasty, pp. 248–59, 313–14; Harvey, The New Imperialism, pp. 1–25; Edward Ingram, “Pairing off Empires: The United States as Great Britain in the Middle East,” in Tore T. Petersen, Controlling the Uncontrollable? The Great Powers in the Middle East (Trondheim: Tapir Books, 2006), pp. 1–32.
Hersh, Chain of Command, pp. 163–71; Mann, Rise of the Vulcans, pp. 294–310; Halper and Clarke, America Alone, pp. 28–35; Isikoff and Corn, Hubris, p. 16.
David E. Sanger, “Viewing the War as a Lesson to the World,” New York Times, 6 April 2003.
Frum and Perle, An End to Evil, p. 33, 212–13, 247–66.
Charles Krauthammer, “The Unipolar Moment,” Foreign Affairs 70 (1990/1991), pp. 23–33; Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth, “American Primacy in Perspective,” Foreign Affairs 81 (2002), pp. 20–33; William Wohlforth, “The Stability of a Unipolar World,” International Security 24 (1999), pp. 5–41; Chris Reus-Smit, American Power and World Order (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2004), ch. 4 on the “idealism of preponderance.”
Dan Eggen, “Pre 9/11 Missteps by FBI Detailed,” Washington Post, 10 June 2005, p. AO1.
Isikoff and Corn, Hubris; Gordon and Trainor, Cobra II; Lebow, Cultural Theory of International Relations, ch. 9; Rich, Greatest Story Ever Sold.
Prepared by Benjamin Valentino and the author.
John J. Accordino, Captives of the Cold War Economy: The Struggle for Defense Conversion in American Communities (Westport, Conn: Praeger, 2000), p. 1.
For a nice case in point, consider the F-22, which Obama finally killed in the Senate with the threat of a veto. Leslie Wayne, “Air Force Jet Wins Battle in Congress,” New York Times, 28 September 2006; Editorial, “We Don’t Need the F-22,” New York Times, 19 June 2009; “White House Threatens Veto over F-22 Jet Fighters,” Associated Press, 24 June 2009; Bryan Bender, “A Dog Fight Obama Seems Bound to Lose,” Boston Globe, 12 July 2009, pp. A1, 10; Christopher Drew, “Bowing to Veto Threat, Senate Blocks Money for Warplanes,” New York Times, 22 July 2009, p. A1.
Lebow and Stein, We All Lost the Cold War, ch. 2.
Holger Afflerbach, Falkenhayn: Politisches Denken und Handeln in Kaiserreich (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1994), p. 61; Annika Mombauer, Helmuth von Moltke and the Origins of the First World War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Lebow, Cultural Theory of International Relations, ch. 7.
Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986) and The Shaping of Southern Culture: Honor, Grace and War, 1760s–1890s (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001).
Michael Lind, “Bush’s Martyrs,” New Statesman, 1 March 2004, p. 20; Shanea Watkins and James Sherk, Who Serves in the US Military? The Demographics of Enlisted Troops and Officers (Washington, D.C.: Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis Report: 2008), p. 13.
US Department of Defense, Population Representation in the Military Services, Fiscal Year 2016 (Washington, D. C.: Department of Defense, 2016); George M. Reynolds and Amanda Shendruk, “Demographics of the US Military,” Council on Foreign Relations, 24 April 2018, https://www.cfr.org/article/demographics-us-military (accessed 12 October 2018).
Mombauer, Helmuth von Moltke and the Origins of the First World; Ricks, Fiasco, pp. 40–43, 66–84.
Ricks, Fiasco, p. 67, Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold is the only known pre-invasion departure from senior military ranks for opposition to the war.
Valentino and Valentino, “An Army of the People?”
Ole R Holsti, “Of Chasms and Convergences: Attitudes and Beliefs of Civilians and Military Elites at the Start of a New Millennium,” in Peter D. Feaver and Richard H. Kohn, eds., Soldiers and Civilians: The Civil-Military Gap and American National Security (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001), pp. 15–99; Christopher Gelpi, Peter Feaver and Jason Reifler, Paying the Human Costs of War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009); Peter D. Feaver, and Christopher Gelpi, Choosing Your Battles: American Civil-Military Relations and the Use of Force (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2004) or contrary findings about close association with the military and willingness to support war.
Gallup Polls, reported at Religious Tolerance.org, http://www.religioustolerance.org/godpoll.htm The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, “US Religious Landscape Survey,” 1 July 2009, http://religions.pewforum.org/reports (nevertheless shows an across the board decline in formal affiliation); Association of Religious Data Archives, http://www.thearda.com/internationalData/compare.asp (all accessed 10 October 2018). Steven Pfaff, “The Religious divide: Why Religion Seems to Be Thriving in the United States and Waning in Europe,” in Jeffrey Kopstein and Sven Steinmo, eds., Growing Apart? America and Europe in the Twenty-First Century (New York: Cambridge, 2007), pp. 24–52.
Gallup Organization poll in 1994-DEC. Quoted in George Bishop, “What Americans Really Believe,” Free Inquiry, Summer 1999, pp. 38–42. Gallup Poll, described by Charisma, 7 June 2000, http://www.mcjonline.com/news/00/20000225e.htm (accessed 10 February 2019).
Holsti, “Of Chasms and Convergences.”
Lebow, Cultural Theory of International Relations, chs. 3 and 4 for the characteristics of honor societies and how they regard death.
- Starve the Beast
Richard Ned Lebow
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