The Pentagon is set to receive $717 billion in 2019 — more than half of the roughly trillion-dollar annual budget. That level of Pentagon funding is immense by any standard. Next year’s budget will be roughly twice the size of military appropriations in the mid-1990s, before George W. Bush and his twin wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it will be higher than the peak of Pentagon spending during the Vietnam War.
None of this is necessary. The Pentagon is the least accountable part of the federal government, wasting billions of dollars on needless bureaucracy, pouring billions more into dangerous (and redundant) nuclear weapons, and cozying up to contractors who siphon off roughly half of the Pentagon’s budget each year. Even worse, the never-ending US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have made the world more dangerous, and American imperialism continues to undermine the autonomy of other nations and peoples.
While profligate Pentagon spending doesn’t make the world more peaceful or more democratic, it does guarantee that the US government will be cash-strapped when it tries to fund vital public programs. Here are a few ways we could be spending our money if we didn’t bequeath the military with $717 billion.