It is no secret that US military spending dwarves that of any other nation. The 2005 US military budget was larger than the military budgets of the next twenty biggest spenders combined and six times larger than China's (2nd to US in spending).
The administration of President George W. Bush received $400.1 billion for the military in 2005. The U.S. military budget request for 2006 is $419.3 billion. The 2006 figure does not include money for the Afghan and Iraq wars ($49.1 billion for Fiscal Year 2006), or Homeland Security funding ($41.1 billion for Fiscal Year 2006).
In all, the administration plans to spend $2.8 trillion on the military over for the period FY '06 through FY '11. Some Americans might find this reassuring, knowing that we could give the proverbial ass kicking to anyone who opposes us. However, on the flip side it has to be intimidating to other countries as we use our fall inline or else philosophy. This hard stance becomes very scary when you throw nuclear armaments and religion into the mix. I have never been one to back intimidation and fear as an appropriate international strategy to achieving what you want. Also I don't think war and religion mix but it seems I am being proven wrong more and more. James Madison stated in 1795 that,
"War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes...known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few...No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
Clearly, the spike in military spending is a result of a loss in faith that the US can persuade countries based on values alone. We have chosen to get ourselves into armed conflicts that have little prospect of resolution (chasing a man through the mountains or fighting in country that doesn't want us there). This balloon in military spending which is linked directly to the loss of the power of persuasion.
The US is no longer able to convince people by using the power of appeals in the place of force. But, maybe I am naive about the nature of global politics. George Orwell stated, "We sleep peaceably in our beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on our behalf." Maybe it is these men that keep global order. These men that keep "rogue" nations from destroying the nations concerned with bringing democracy and freedom to all. Yet if our way is right shouldn't it be convincing enough that we wouldn't have to us force?
I am certainly over simplifying things, but violence is spread by one basic fact and that fact is a lack of understanding. This lack of understanding can be mutual or one sided. Again George Orwell touched on this more eloquently then I ever could.
"If he were allowed contact with foreigners he would discover that they are creatures similar to himself and that most of what he has been told about them is lies. The sealed world in which he lives would be broken, and the fear, hatred, and self-righteousness on which his morale depends might evaporate."(1984).
Ok, sorry to get all heavy on you this has just been something I've been pondering. It seems at our most basic level we are all people and we have much more in common then we are lead to believe. They are taught to think we are monsters and we are taught to think they are monsters, yet I would bet that most of us are not monsters, and we are just people trying to do what is best for our family, friends and loved ones. And 'they' refers to many different sociological, racial, religious, ethnic, and economic interactions people have.
Also, I always find it a hard pill to swallow that we as a country spend so much money on death and destruction and so little on our future by investing in education, the environment, health care and infrastructure. Ok rant over thanks for lasting this long.
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
Big Boost for US Military Spending by BBC