For most of U.S. history, there was a Federal Department of War and a Department of the Navy. In 1947, The War Department was renamed the Department of the Army and a new Department of the Air Force was added. Then, in 1949, all the military branches were consolidated under a more euphemistic name, the Department of Defense.
Many informed citizens wished the department had retained the previous moniker, but that was not to be. Other nations have either retained the word “war” in their agencies’ names or have adopted the word “defense”. Others utilize the word “military”, as in the “European Union Military Staff”.
A “Global Day of Action on Military Spending” has been observed in many nations in order to focus attention on the vast amounts of spending for war preparation around the world. Overt, above board global war expenditures in 2013 were $1,753,000,000,000 (USD).
The day of action was conceived by the Nobel Prize-winning “International Peace Bureau”, the oldest peace studies organization, founded in 1891. The IPC world headquarters are in Washington D.C. The day of action has been endorsed by several non-profit organizations, including: FOR, Global Exchange, National Priorities Project, Nebraskans for Peace, Pax Christi, Peace Action, and several others.
The $1.753 trillion figure only includes overt, official spending dedicated to military branches and bureaus conventionally thought of as “the military”. The grand total is much higher when all expenditures are taken into account.
Spending on such entities includes that for: the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons research program, NASA’s spy satellite surveillance, FBI “counter-terrorism”, CIA, NSA and the counterparts of these programs in other countries. A great deal of spending is unaccounted for because of the existance of “hidden budgets”.
What is also, often cited is the fact that the United States leads the world in military spending. The U.S. accounts for nearly half of all global resources spent on warfare.
Proponants of such high spending levels claim that the vast amount, creates jobs, stimulates the economy, combats “terrorism”, and maintains peace. These claims are promoted by the multinational corporations and governments that benefit from this infusion of money.
The criticisms offered by people who advocate smaller war budgets are many. Even though nations, like the United States, are very “strong on defense”, terrorism is happening at record levels, joblessness is causing widespread suffering, the only parts of the economy to benefit are multinational corporate interests, and warfare around the globe has not subsided at all.
a portion of the USAF’s bomber “graveyard” of obsolete aircraft near Tucson, Arizona
Peace advocates point out that national and international indebtedness would be reduced or even eliminated if war spending was slashed. Investments in infrastructure and human resources could be made to provide long-term benefits.
Nebraskans For Peace states that the $3,000,000,000 that is spent on the U.S. military each day, is slightly more than the entire annual budget for the State government of Nebraska. Federal officials say that 59% of all federal tax dollars fund the Pentagon’s projects or functions. By its own admission, the Pentagon cannot account for 25% of its expenditures. In 2002, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld admitted that $2,300,000,000,000 could not be accounted for.
United Nations’ studies have shown that total global war spending could be halved and not affect readiness nor effectiveness of military forces around the world. That we spend so much money and harm so many people, are the points of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending.
The Blue Jay of Happiness notes that grassroots organizations and networks can work together to achieve global, common security for all people on Earth.