, I made note of recent findings on world military spending — nearly a trillion dollars last year, and 47% of that spent by the United States.
As Congress moves ahead with a huge new defense bill, lawmakers are making only modest changes in the Pentagon’s plans to spend well over $1 trillion in the next decade on an arsenal of futuristic planes, ships and weapons with little direct connection to the Iraq war or the global war on terrorism.
House and Senate versions of the defense authorization measure contain a record $68 billion for research and development — 20 percent above the peak levels of President Ronald Reagan’s historic defense buildup. Tens of billions more out of a proposed $76 billion hardware account will go for big-ticket weapons systems to combat some as-yet-unknown adversary comparable to the former Soviet Union.
On the Pentagon’s wish list are such revolutionary weapons as a fighter plane that can land on an aircraft carrier or descend vertically to the ground; a radar-evading destroyer that can wallow low in the waves like a submarine while aiming precise rounds at enemy targets 200 miles inland; and a compact “isomer” weapon that could tap the metallic chemical element hafnium to release 10,000 times as much energy per gram as TNT…
War costs and modernization are expected to drive defense spending to nearly $500 billion in , above the inflation-adjusted Cold War average, and $50 billion above . The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the long-term price tag for all the planes, ships and weapons the military services want will be at least $770 billion above what the Bush administration’s long-term defense plan calls for.
In a major speech last week, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, called for cutting back funding for a national missile defense system — a priority of the Bush administration — to pay for increasing the size of the active-duty Army.
Much of the budget increase is not for defense against terrorism, but for programs that add to the already large stash of weapons of mass destruction that the United States threatens the world with.