When the Pentagon released its budget materials and press releases last Monday, the press dutifully reported the numbers. The Pentagon's "base" budget for 2013 is to be $525.4 billion, and with $88.5 billion for the war in Afghanistan and elsewhere added, the total comes to $613.9 billion.
Indeed, if you plowed through the hundreds of pages of additional materials the Pentagon released Monday, you would come up with little reason the doubt the accuracy of those numbers as the totality of what Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was seeking for the Pentagon. It would also seem reasonable that those amounts constitute the vast majority of what America spends on "defense," defined generically.
You would be quite wrong.
The Pentagon's "base" budget -- i.e. the non-war parts -- is not $525.4 billion; the formally presented Pentagon budget, as shown by the President and his Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is $6.3 billion higher,making a total of $531.7 billion.
Why isn't that slightly higher number reported by the press? Simple; it's not in the Pentagon press release. Even when told about the more complete materials at the OMB website (as I attempted to do), the press seems to unanimously prefer the smaller DoD version.
The additional $6.3 billion is for some military retirement and other military personnel costs that are every bit as much a part of the Department of Defense budget as are the rest of its personnel costs or any plane, tank or ship in the inventory. It's a part of the President's official budget request for the Department of Defense, and it's money appropriated by Congress, just like the rest. The only difference is that it is appropriated by a different mechanism. That mechanism is what OMB and others call "mandatory" spending, also known as "entitlement" spending, or as it was originally conceived, permanent appropriations as authorized by law.
You'll have to ask the Pentagon why its press releases are inaccurate to the tune of $6.3 billion. They might say that's the way they have always shown their budget to the press. They might say that they don't want to change now and present apples this year compared to last year's oranges. They might say they like to hide DoD costs, but I doubt they'll admit the latter.
They hide other DOD costs as well. There are other expenses for DOD military retirement and also for a part of the DOD healthcare system buried in other parts of the federal budget. You can find them in the budget requests for Health and Income Security. (Find them in Budget Functions 550 and 600 in this table.) When you net out some intra-governmental transfers and other obscure budget-geek twists and turns, I calculate a total of $29.4 billion in 2013 for the expenditures for these costs not shown in the Pentagon budget -- and certainly not in the Pentagon's press releases, not ever.
If you want to be a stickler for detail and budgetary ethics (the latter not a particularly popular activity these days, if ever), the "base" Pentagon budget, is not $531.7 for 2013,it is $561.1 billion. It sure as heck is not the $525.4 billion the Pentagon press release and its avid readers in journalism have reported so profusely.
There is, of course, more. Technically not a part of the DoD budget, but certainly a generic defense cost, are the warheads carried by the Pentagon's strategic nuclear delivery systems, like the B-2 bomber and the Minuteman and Trident missiles. Nuclear warhead research and upkeep are a Department of Energy cost; $19.4 billion in the 2013 budget.
There are also the costs for what OMB officially calls "defense-related activities" (the Selective Service, the National Defense Stockpile and other cats and dogs) that amount to another $7.8 billion for 2013.
Done? Not yet.
Consider the $8.2 billion that the State Department wants to spend for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, which-like it or not-is a national security cost. And what of the rest of the State Department budget ($61.6 billion) for diplomacy, foreign aid, arms sales, aid to Israel and a lot more. Some Washington-types call this budget "soft power," and it is surely an important part of America's international security presence.
Consider also the human consequences of past and current wars that are born by our veterans and the Department of Veterans Affairs: add another $137.7 billion for 2013.
How about protection in the war on terrorism? The Department of Homeland Security and the homeland security expenses of various agencies not discussed here (such as the $4.1 billion being sought by the Department of Health and Human Services) are certainly a national security cost: add $46.3 billion for 2013.
Add all that together, and you get $930.6 billion.
But we're not quite done yet.
The Pentagon budget and all the other defense related spending have to be taken into account for our annual payment for the national debt. The net interest on the national debt for 2013 is to be $248 billion. All defense related spending for 2013 constitutes 25.7 percent of all federal expenditures ($3.8 trillion in 2013); 25.7 percent of the interest payment is $63.7 billion. The total budget request for all US defense related spending in 2013 is $994.3 billion, by my calculations.
Some might differ with some part of my tabulation, such as using a different formula for calculating a defense share of the debt payment or including or excluding something different (perhaps NASA) from the agencies and expenses I list above. In any case, however,it will come to a grand total close to $1 trillion.
After Monday's press releases were consumed, newspaper story after newspaper story described a defense budget that consisted of a $525.4 billion "base" plus $88.5 billion more for the war in Afghanistan, etc. to make a total of $613.9 billion. That was $380.4 billion short of the total "defense" (or national security) budget I see if you go through the budget materials a little more thoroughly.
All those numbers are shown in the table below. Also shown is a comparison to the current fiscal year, 2012. After all the chatter, some of it still quite hysterical, about "defense cuts," I find no cut; I find "defense spending" (defined generically) going up by $8.2 billion, from $986.1 billion to $994.3 billion.
Given the rhetoric we hear out of Washington about "devastating" cuts that fail "to adequately address threats" you have to wonder how much more than $1 trillion do these people want to spend?
Link to original article from AOL Defense
End Wars and Occupations -
It's time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa. In July 2005 a huge coalition of Palestinian groups laid out plans to do just that. They called on "people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era". The campaign Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions was born.
Naomi Klein | The Guardian 20 Jul 2014 Hits:304 EWO Articles
SO...WHAT'S going on in Iraq?
A lot, and it has been going on for a long time, but the English language media has chosen to ignore most of the important stuff as it occurs. Now, with the Sunni insurgency "capturing" Mosul, the country's second-largest city, we are going to get a flurry of coverage, probably followed by it dropping back into oblivion, even as the drama increases in pitch and importance.
Three articles from the New York Times--"Sunni Militants Drive Iraqi Army Out of Mosul," by Suadad Al-Salhy and Tim Arango; "Exhausted...
Michael Schwartz | Socialist Worker 07 Jul 2014 Hits:331 EWO Articles
This week Iraq emerged from the recesses of American memory and became a hot topic of conversation. Alarming headlines about ISIS’s “takeover” of Mosul and their march towards Baghdad have elicited a number of reactions: The most conservative call for direct US military action against ISIS to ensure that the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki remains stable in Baghdad. The most liberal lament the ongoing violence and divisions in Iraqi society caused by the US occupation; though they make no attempt distinguish between the violence of ISIS and...
Ross Caputi | Common Dreams 07 Jul 2014 Hits:258 EWO Articles
For over three years, the United States has sought to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by supporting an Al Qaeda-infused opposition that Washington either knew or should have known would fail. Yet, in his commencement address at West Point on Wednesday, President Obama promised the American people and the rest of the world more of the same.
Obama’s vague pledge to “ramp up” support for selected oppositionists is a craven sop to those claiming that U.S. backing for the opposition so far—nonlethal aid, training opposition fighters, coordination...
Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett | The National Interest 03 Jun 2014 Hits:259 EWO Articles
During his speech at West Point Military Academy earlier this week, President Barack Obama described climate change as a "creeping national security crisis" that will require the armed forces to "respond to refugee flows, natural disasters, and conflicts over water and food."
The speech emphasised that US foreign policy in the 21st century is increasingly being honed in recognition of heightened risks of social, political and economic upheaval around the world due the impacts of global warming.
A more detailed insight into US military planning could be seen in the report published...
Nafeez Ahmed | The Guardian 03 Jun 2014 Hits:421 EWO Articles
Hundreds of billions of dollars will once again be spent on the U.S. defense budget.
It’s Pentagon budget time. And once again, Congress and the White House are haggling over the fine print of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). But what has stayed constant over the years is the massive spending on the defense budget, which points to the American political establishment’s appetite for militarism.
Congress’ proposed Pentagon budget this year is for $601 billion, a sum that dwarfs spending during the Vietnam War. There have been predictable howls from conservative...
Alex Kane | Alternet 29 May 2014 Hits:532 EWO Articles
The death toll in Odessa stands at 42 people killed, most of them burned to death or suffocated by smoke inhalation in the inferno at the Trade Unions House. There is no dispute over who were the victims and who were their killers. The victims were pro-Russian protesters who had occupied the building. The attackers who set fire to it with petrol bombs were members of Right Sector, the ultra-Nationalist strike force of the U.S.-backed coup that overthrew the elected government of Ukraine in February.
Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh...
Nicolas J.S. Davies | AlterNet 08 May 2014 Hits:256 EWO Articles
Twelve years into America's "war on terror," it is time to admit that it has failed catastrophically, unleashing violence, war and instability in an "arc of terror" stretching from West Africa to the Himalayas and beyond. If we examine the pretext for all this chaos, that it could possibly be a legitimate or effective response to terrorism, it quickly becomes clear that it has been the exact opposite, fueling a global explosion of terrorism and a historic breakdown of law and order.
The State Department reports seem, at first glance, to...
Nicholas J.S. Davies | AlterNet 10 Feb 2014 Hits:443 EWO Articles
They operate in the green glow of night vision in Southwest Asia and stalk through the jungles of South America. They snatch men from their homes in the Maghreb and shoot it out with heavily armed militants in the Horn of Africa. They feel the salty spray while skimming over the tops of waves from the turquoise Caribbean to the deep blue Pacific. They conduct missions in the oppressive heat of Middle Eastern deserts and the deep freeze of Scandinavia. All over the planet, the Obama administration is waging a...
Nick Turse | Tom's Dispatch 04 Feb 2014 Hits:565 EWO Articles
Iran and a group of six world powers completed a deal on Sunday that will temporarily freeze much of Tehran’s nuclear program starting next Monday, Jan. 20, in exchange for limited relief from Western economic sanctions.
The main elements of the deal, which is to last for six months, were announced in November. But its implementation was delayed as negotiators worked out technical details.
The agreement faced opposition from Iranian hard-liners and Israeli leaders, as well as heavy criticism from some American lawmakers, who have threatened to approve further sanctions despite President...
Michael R Gordon and Eric Schmitt | The New York Times 13 Jan 2014 Hits:446 EWO Articles
Call Your Representative at 1-855-686-6927 Say Vote "NO" on the Defense Authorization Act
The House will be voting on a final version of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Bill. This measure includes $80.7 billion to continue the war in Afghanistan, on top of a $552.1 billion base budget for the Pentagon. Coming at a time, when we are experiencing cuts in food stamps, public housing, Head Start and a host of federal programs that our people urgently need – this bill is outrageous!
Please call your Representative today on the Capitol Switchboard...
Tim Carpenter 10 Dec 2013 Hits:749 EWO Articles
President Obama said Saturday that he could envision a final diplomatic agreement with Iran that would let the country’s government enrich nuclear material for power production with enough restrictions to assure Israel and the rest of the world that it could not produce a nuclear weapon.
But Mr. Obama said there was no guarantee that such a deal would emerge as Iran and Western nations negotiate during the next six months.
“I wouldn’t say that it’s more than 50-50,” Mr. Obama said during a conversation at a conference run by the Saban...
Michael D Shear | The New York Times 08 Dec 2013 Hits:643 EWO Articles
This past summer, the Army began investigating why the military spent nearly $36 million to construct a well-appointed 64,000-square-foot headquarters in southwestern Afghanistan that commanders in the area did not want and has never been used.
The two-star Army general in Kabul who conducted the inquiry has determined that the decision to commission the building was appropriate — and recommended that U.S. troops move in, after more work is done on the facility.
(Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) - The exterior of the Regional Command-Southwest (RC-SW) Command and Control...
Rajiv Chandrasekaran | Washington Post 04 Dec 2013 Hits:708 EWO Articles
How can some policymakers claim to be fiscal conservatives when they won’t allow small spending cuts to the defense budget to go through?
We've seen that the “sky is falling” predictions about sequestration haven't materialize. Yet lawmakers in both houses of Congress are still seeking to at least partially undo the spending reductions in the Budget Control Act of 2011, despite evidence the Pentagon is wasting taxpayer dollars on overly expensive -- and arguably unnecessary -- projects.
A recent amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act by Republican Sens. James Inhofe, R-Okla.,...
VERONIQUE DE RUGY | Washington Examiner 26 Nov 2013 Hits:545 EWO Articles
Spending billions on the U.S. Navy is an obscene waste
The Budget Control Act of 2011 required automatic spending cuts unless Congress could agree on a long-term deficit reduction plan. When the law was passed, the conventional wisdom was that the automatic cuts in Pentagon spending would be unthinkable, and this would force the long-term budget deal.
The conventional wisdom proved to be wrong, and the cuts to Pentagon spending began in March 2013.
It was a dumb idea to reduce the deficit with unemployment elevated, but given that government spending was going...
Mark Weisbrot | The Denver Post 18 Nov 2013 Hits:589 EWO Articles
Plan Unaffordable, Unnecessary, Critics Note
In a time of budget cuts, and with their leadership constantly insisting there isn’t enough funding to go around, the Pentagon is planning to “modernize” the B61 tactical nuclear weapons in a plan they estimate to cost at least $10 billion.
“The B61 is the only weapon in the stockpile that fulfills both tactical and strategic missions,” insisted Gen. Robert Kehler, who insisted the plan was vital in testimony to Congress last week.
The US made the first B61s in the 1970?s, and has created nearly a dozen...
Jason Ditz | AntiWar.com 07 Nov 2013 Hits:540 EWO Articles
Retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton comes from a military family. His three children are all soldiers, his wife is an Army captain, and his two brothers in-law are helicopter pilots. His father was M.I.A. for moer than 40 years in Vietnam. His opinions, he said on Wednesday in the Old Capitol, are colored by these facts, and that is why he believes the military should be utilized as little as possible.
Eaton addressed University of Iowa students, professors, and members of the Iowa United Nations Association Wednesday in the Senate Chamber....
Jake McCulley | The Daily Iowan 07 Nov 2013 Hits:689 EWO Articles
Likely Republican presidential hopefuls who once expressed hawkish views on U.S. policy in Syria are pivoting with an eye on how the issue will play in the 2016 GOP primary. [WATCH VIDEO]
With the conservative wing of the party now largely unified in opposition to military action, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are singing a different tune from just months ago, when both seemed to advocate a more muscular U.S. response to Syrian President Bashar Assad. Both Cruz and Rubio dispute that their views have changed.
Cruz said he...
Alexandra Jaffe | The Hill 06 Nov 2013 Hits:571 EWO Articles
A Pakistani family devastated by drones gave a landmark briefing on Tuesday.
On Tuesday morning, almost 10 years after the U.S. government began using drones to target suspected militants in Pakistan—one of the tools of the War on Terror that the Obama administration has embraced and expanded since taking office in 2009—Congress heard from some of the policy’s innocent victims for the first time.
(Photo: 'How can I in good faith reassure the children that the drone will not come back and kill them, too?' asked Pakistani schoolteacher Rafiq ur Rehman, whose mother...
Cole Stangler | In These Times 30 Oct 2013 Hits:674 EWO Articles
Defense contractors have managed to not only stay afloat but also thrive in a climate of government closure and massive cuts to the Pentagon’s budget, continuing to rake in billions upon billions of dollars in profits.
Under the terms of sequestration, the Department of Defense is slashing budgets left and right, with about $41 billion cut in 2013 alone. That hasn’t prevented the major defense contractors — including Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman — to continue to post huge profits according to Bloomberg. Northrop Grumman in particular has had a surprisingly...
Hayes Brown | Think Progress 26 Oct 2013 Hits:556 EWO Articles
The federal government is currently in a state of shutdown thanks to a small faction of extremist Republicans who vehemently bellow that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have a catastrophic economic effect on our country. These members of Congress are so irrational about the ACA that they have caused the furlough of nearly 800,000 federal workers -- some of whom handle vitally important tasks such as safety inspections, monitoring our food supply and detecting epidemic outbreaks. Congress, however, has failed to address the worst excesses in the federal budget...
Ralph Nader | Huffington Post 07 Oct 2013 Hits:702 EWO Articles
When the US invaded Iraq in 2003 Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi single mother of three, lost her home and her property, and was forced to flee to Jordan.
A decade later, Saleh is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against six key members of the Bush administration. They’re arguing that, since the war was not conducted in self-defense, and did not have the appropriate authorization by the United Nations, it constituted a “crime of aggression” under international law.
On August 20th the United States Department of Justice requested that George W. Bush,...
Alice Walker | Code Pink 04 Oct 2013 Hits:611 EWO Articles
A tragic milestone was reached last year, when 185 active-duty Army soldiers died by suicide, surpassing the 176 soldiers killed in battle in Afghanistan that year. The Army's annual death toll from suicide has more than tripled since 2001, when 52 active-duty soldiers took their own lives.
Just as disturbing: The increase in military suicides came while the military was mounting an aggressive series of suicide prevention campaigns and offering resources to help soldiers and their families.
That demonstrates a difficult truth: Reducing military suicides will not be easy or quick, as...
David Wood | Huffington Post 03 Oct 2013 Hits:599 EWO Articles
The intoxication of war, fueled by the euphoric nationalism that swept through the country like a plague following the attacks of 9/11, is a spent force in the United States. The high-blown rhetoric of patriotism and national destiny, of the sacred duty to reshape the world through violence, to liberate the enslaved and implant democracy in the Middle East, has finally been exposed as empty and meaningless. The war machine has tried all the old tricks. It trotted out the requisite footage of atrocities. It issued the histrionic warnings that...
Chris Hedges | Truth Dig 03 Oct 2013 Hits:537 EWO Articles
The Associated Press reports Syria's Foreign Minister has said his country has accepted a Russian proposal to relinquish control of its chemical arms stores.
On Monday, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem stated that his country welcomed the Russian proposal, which called for Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control and for the weapons to be destroyed.
No time frame or further details were given about the proposal. It remained unclear whether Syria was making genuine strides toward a diplomatic resolution to the conflict that began in March 2011, or if the...
Huffington Post 10 Sep 2013 Hits:790 EWO Articles
Exclusive: Despite the Obama administration’s supposedly “high confidence” regarding Syrian government guilt over the Aug. 21 chemical attack near Damascus, a dozen former U.S. military and intelligence officials are telling President Obama that they are picking up information that undercuts the Official Story.
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Is Syria a Trap?
We regret to inform you that some of our former co-workers are telling us, categorically, that contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed...
ConsortiumNews.com 09 Sep 2013 Hits:1063 EWO Articles
President Obama's threats against Syria are framed by the carefully crafted image of a responsible superpower reluctantly drawn into a horrific conflict caused by others. But the reality is very different.
For more than two years, U.S. policy has quietly fueled the escalation of the conflict in Syria and undermined every effort to bring the Syrian people the ceasefire and peaceful political transition they need and want. Whoever is directly responsible for hundreds of deaths in the latest alleged chemical weapons incident, the critical covert and diplomatic role the United States has played...
Nicolas J. S. Davies | AlterNet 09 Sep 2013 Hits:849 EWO Articles
On Thursday I asked the House Intelligence Committee staff whether there was any other documentation available, classified or unclassified. Their answer was “no.”
The Syria chemical weapons summaries are based on…
In the lead-up to the Iraq War, I researched, wrote and circulated a document to members of Congress which explored unanswered questions and refuted President Bush's claim for a cause…
As Obama remains steadfast in his push for military action, can those calling for restraint and diplomacy win out?
As President Obama departed Russia on Friday with a mixed showing of…
A quick reader on why military intervention in Syria is a big mistake–and what we should be advocating instead.
Some progressives remain conflicted about how the United States should respond to…
A civilian campaign to protect Syrian installations with human shields is being held in Damascus in anticipation of looming US attacks.
The campaign “Over our dead bodies,” which was started last…
We can hear the drum beats of war again. Syria certainly appears to have committed heinous acts. The rebels may also have done so as well. Chemical weapons have not…
US President Barack Obama talks to bipartisan Congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington while discussing a military response to Syria, September 3, 2013. (Reuters/Larry…
This is a special moment for all of us in PDA. But we have to move fast.
We need you to work with your local allies to visit your Congressperson…
President Obama's speech gives opponents of greater U.S. intervention in Syria a week or more to mobilize, to build opposition in Congress and in the public, and to continue fighting…
Contact us at:email@example.com
PDA is organized around several core issues. These issues include:
Each team hosts a monthly conference call. Calls feature legislators, staffers and other policy experts. On these calls we determine PDA legislation to support as well as actions and future events.
Listen to this month's call as Jamal Abdi and Yasmin Radjy of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) tell us about NIAC's "Seal the Deal" campaign to rally support in Congress for peace with Iran and to ensure that Congress does not derail...
Listen to this month's call with regular contributor to PDA's Round Table, Stephen Miles of Win Without War, as he helps us to sort through the calculated confusion of the NDAA, identify amendments we should support, and organize effective action...
Judith Le Blanc, the Field Director for Peace Action, discusses preparations around the U.S. for the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, and how we can all organize or get involved in GDAMS actions in our local communities. Additional...
Hear from two of our peace movement partners, Rusti Eisenberg of United For Peace and Justice (UFPJ) and Stephen Miles of the Win Without War coalition, as we discuss how we can build an even stronger and more effective peace movement, plus,...
This call is a discussion of the work we will be doing moving into 2014. Stopping sanctions against Iran, including S 1881, were part of the discussion; a campaign to get HR 198: Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force is underway;...
Hear the discussion with guest speaker Jirair Ratevosian, Legislative Director for long-time PDA Advisory Board member Representative Barbara Lee of California. PDA's End War & Occupation IOT has endorsed five bills sponsored by Barbara Lee...