Working towards peace and sustainability

U.S. Military Spending in Global Context


As you likely have heard, the U.S. has, by far, the world’s largest military budget. In fact, U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill for a military budget that is larger than the next 11 biggest spenders combined. And the majority of these countries are close U.S. allies or major trading partners. None has approached the U.S. with belligerence or threated to attack us. Moreover, we have vast oceans to the east and the west and friendly neighbors to the north and south. So, what exactly is this so-called “defense spending” defending us against?

When considering the massively bloated military budget we need to recognize that we are not just expending dollars. The real economy is an economy of human-made things—goods and services—labor and physical resources. Thus, we are not just spending money. We are also using raw materials, energy—most of it polluting and climate-altering fossil fuels—and the labor of our skilled workforce to make, maintain and operate all these bases, weapons, weapons systems, etc. The resources we are expending, in excess of legitimate defense, are wasted and not available to address real threats to our security.

We have to start by asking why we are spending such enormous amounts on the military, while we fail to attend to human and environmental needs? It should be clear that, unlike in the buildup to World War II, the U.S. is not responding to a militarily powerful adversary that is threatening us.

The best source of military spending information comes from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). They report that world expenditures for 2020 total $1.981 trillion, an enormous sum, with just five nations doing 62% of the spending. Both China and Russia have significant military budgets, but they pale in comparison to that of the U.S. which spent $778 billion, or 39% of the total. China, the second largest spender, spent $252 billion, one-third as much as the U.S. did (13% of the total), while Russia spent $61.7 billion, 3.1% of the total. The combined spending of these two supposed adversaries is $314 billion, less than half of what the U.S. spends.

Other big spenders were India ($72.9 billion), the United Kingdom ($59.2 billion) Saudi Arabia ($57.5 billion), Germany ($52.8 billion), France, ($52.7 billion), Japan ($49.1 billion) and South Korea ($45.7 billion).  Please note that all seven of these countries are U.S. allies, and their combined spending, $389.9 billion, significantly exceeds the combined total of China and Russia. No other country accounted for 2 percent or more of overall military expenditure in 2020.

Given the profound imbalance in spending, one can conclude that the U.S. military, unlike the other major militaries, has been charged with a very different mission than the others. That mission is sometimes referred to as Full Spectrum Dominance. The U.S. has forces based across the globe, on land, at sea, in the skies, and now in space as well as the cyber-realm. The mission seems to be American Empire and the ability to keep governments with agendas the U.S. ruling elites are not fond of from coming to power, or staying in power. Add to that the profit motive of the Military-Industrial Complex, and you get a recipe for massive and very dangerous misdirection of resources.

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100% Renewable Electricity for CoMo by 2030?

Friends, Columbia is at a crossroads. We, here in CoMo, have an excellent opportunity on the climate front. The City Council will soon set the goal for our electric utility to attain 100% renewably generated power. They will decide if we should be aiming to make our electric utility generate 100% of our power from renewables by 2030, by 2040, or by 2050.

As you likely know, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, leading scientists from virtually every nation on the planet, assembled by the United Nations, has determined that, in order to have any hope of avoiding the worst case climate scenarios, we must reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by one half by 2030. Since our electric utility accounts for 42% of our GHG emissions, any hope of accomplishing this in just nine years rests primarily on moving forward rapidly with solar and wind generation.

Given the urgency of addressing the climate crisis, Peaceworks and our allies are calling for a target getting 100% of our electricity from renewables by 2030. We have created a petition addressed to the City Council and we urge all reading this who are CoMo residents to please sign and share. You can find the petition if you CLICK HERE.

There will be a public hearing on this held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 28 in the Council Chambers at City Hall. If you can attend the hearing, it would be very helpful. You can RSVP and invite others via the Facebook event if you CLICK HERE.

For now, signing and sharing the petition would be a great start. CLICK HERE to sign.

P.S. If you’ve not yet signed up to get the weekly Green Team emails, you can do this if you CLICK HERE

Join the Green Team

The Peaceworks’ Green Team is all about EMPOWERMENT. We are struggling with an unprecedented climate crisis and events daily remind us how unsustainable our culture and our lives are.

Many of us are aware, but feel powerless to take action. Paradoxically, this widespread sense of disempowerment and inaction makes action on the part of others less likely to succeed. We have organized the Green Team based upon the premise that many of us acting—in both the personal and the social/political realms—will make a difference.

Today we’re experiencing a warmer world and a climate that’s changing even faster than the experts’ models predicted (see “Code Red for Humanity” pg. ). The combination of unprecedented wild fires, floods, droughts, severe heat waves, super-storms, melting ice, rising sea levels and more, has opened the eyes of many who were not previously paying much attention to the climate crisis.

Peaceworks now sends out a once weekly Green Team News by e-mail. It generally has one action alert and a few sustainable living tips, thus offering the opportunity for group action in the public arena as well as some ideas as to how one might green-up their lifestyle. We promise not to spam you. Just one e-mail a week will come your way.

This past summer and into the fall, Peaceworks volunteers and staff have been canvassing—knocking on doors—encouraging folks to get engaged in addressing our shared crisis. We’ve been inviting them to sign up to join the Green Team. Several hundred have done so. We plan to continue this effort into the fall and invite anyone reading this who’d like to help to please contact us to volunteer. You can write to us at
midmopeaceworks@gmail.com or call us at 573-875-0539.

If you’ve not already signed up to join the Green Team the easiest way to do so is taking this link to a short Google Form that takes less than a minute to fill out.

Please CLICK HERE to sign up.

Thanks for whatever you can do. And remember, we’re all in this together and our action now is sorely needed, for our own sake and for the sake of our kids, grandkids and all who’ll come after us.