Why Is the War Budget Increasing?

W.J. Astore

President Biden has announced that all U.S. combat troops will be out of Afghanistan by 9/11 of this year. So why is the Pentagon budget increasing? Only in America do wars end and war budgets go up.

Arguing against Biden’s pullout plan, more than a few commentators have expressed concern about the status and safety of Afghan women under Taliban rule. As if America went to war to secure the rights of women in Afghanistan. So, I’d like to ask these commentators, what about the status and safety of women in America? What about equal pay? What about protecting women from domestic violence and other forms of assault? What about reproductive rights for women? Before you pontificate about securing rights for Afghan women, you should work to secure them for American women.

Speaking of which: Are these commentators in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment for women?

Speaking of which: Are these commentators in favor of a $15 federal minimum wage? Because a boost in the federal minimum wage will help women and minorities, who are more likely than white men to be stuck in low-paying jobs

It’s unlikely that the Afghan War will end on 9/11. It’s just being turned over to the mercs, spooks, and drones. In other words, private military contractors (mercenaries), the CIA (spooks), and bombing via remotely-piloted aerial vehicles (drones).

A friend of mine has a theory. As long as Americans have plenty of cheap 70-inch TV screens available to them, as well as plenty of tawdry and violent entertainment, they couldn’t care less about the Afghan War and similar issues. I think he’s right. All these gigantic screens remind me of “Fahrenheit 451.” Except in our future, the “firemen” won’t have to burn the books since no one will want to read them.

America’s “defense” experts always tout various “gaps” that we must fill with more weapons to counter our imagined enemies. We’ve had bomber and missile gaps in our past, and the movie “Dr Strangelove” famously imagined a “mine shaft gap.” Today we hear about cyberwar, hypersonic missiles, and the like, yet the biggest and most dangerous gap that America has is empathy. It’s shown quite well by this profane cartoon, sent along by a friend:

Empathy gap? What empathy gap?

Back in 2019, here’s what I wrote about America’s empathy gap: Despite our size, we are a remarkably insular nation and suffer from a serious empathy gap when it comes to understanding foreign cultures and peoples or what we’re actually doing to them. Even our globetrotting troops, when not fighting and killing foreigners in battle, often stay on vast bases, referred to in the military as “Little Americas,” complete with familiar stores, fast food, you name it. Wherever we go, there we are, eating our big burgers, driving our big trucks, wielding our big guns, and dropping our very big bombs. But what those bombs do, whom they hurt or kill, whom they displace from their homes and lives, these are things that Americans turn out to care remarkably little about.

Perhaps that’s because we’re too enthralled with our new 80-inch super-high-def TV. Want to play a (war) game?

56 thoughts on “Why Is the War Budget Increasing?

  1. precisely why we never allowed a tv to darken our door. all 7 of our now-adult children were never exposed to the deleterious impacts of the idiot box… what dr. marie winn baptized THE PLUG-IN DRUG, which was the title of her bestseller published in 1974. w/ the ubiquitous regnancy of portable electronic devices’ being manipulated by the hands of even pre-schoolers, the electronic drug addiction is now out of control…. but who-the-hell cares, eh?

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    1. Did you think the point of the column was anti-TV? People can be insular and lack empathy regardless of the absence of a television in their homes, and a TV doesn’t magically remove empathy.

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      1. a laudable and accurate observation, david c. i was/am, as prevenient, off-topic. commensurately, my sweeping brush was far too broad-stroked and draconian. however, it was a strategy that worked for my family, not necessarily anyone else’s family, b/c i am fundamentally indolent and would have found it an intolerable, exanimating process to monitor all 7 of my rugrats’ use of the idiot box. if each one had been manumitted to indulge in, say, the one program/day that captured her/his fancy, it would have resulted in a full-time profession of police-type vigilance… for which i had not the discretionary time nor patience to endure. proscribing the electronic drug altogether was the path of least resistance for this particularly overwhelmed working mother.

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    2. Good one on you, Miss Jeanie, for noticing that there were serious dangers associated with the new visual/verbal exchange; that eliminated the vibration of live cellular transmission. There’s a reason they called it, “this evenings programming “. The connection to today’s hand held version is generally missed; but this technology since it’s inception has always been about manufacturing ideologies and marketing desires. It helps one escape the realities of self awareness; which is a key component of empathy.

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      1. the cratonic quiddity of buddhism is self-awareness, utejack. i fear the soi-disant electronic media and concomitant devices that infect the brain w/ non-stop marketing strategies, in mindless perpetuity, have so compromised the essential function of self-awareness that many in the neoteric generations have no clue about who they are, what codes of conduct they wish to honour, nor what charitable goals they hope to implement in their daily lives. nor have i the prescience to pre-sage how and where these younger generations will carry our species into the future. i’m relieved that i will not be around to bear witness to this self-absorbed catapult into a dystopia that would render me in such a state of psychic desuetude i would be of no use to anyone… a cipher of the first order.

        apologies; this is becoming too personalized, which is not the intended purpose of astore’s blog. but then, every expressed declarative and the ‘supporting facts’ offered for one’s opinings and opinions here are subjectively cherry-picked in order to indurate one’s perspective.

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  2. When the cry goes up that The Prez is “soft on terrorism” (if and when the withdrawal from Afghanistan happens) his mouthpiece can say, “Not so fast, there. Didn’t he increase the military’s budget?”
    A $15.00 minimum wage isn’t enough, but won’t happen because the folks who would be forced to pay the increased wages will fight it tooth and nail where it counts the most: not at the ballot box, but in the realm of campaign contributions.
    And your friend is right: Americans couldn’t care less about anything that isn’t directly related to their never-ending quest for good times. This is nothing new.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My comment appearing in The New York Times Yesterday, on the opinion piece by Bret Stephens, ‘Abandoning Afghanistan Is a Historic Mistake
    Leaving proves Osama bin Laden right: Eventually, America cuts and runs.’

    Bret must be too young to remember North Korea.
    The US dropped so many bombs there was nothing left to bomb, and still North Korea would not surrender.
    General MacArthur wanted to use the Ultimate terrorist weapon and nuke them into submission.

    The best the US could get was a Truce that lasted these 68 years, even though the US continued with an Economic War on North Korea to hinder and destroy the Nation and it’s people, and continues to this very Day.

    Surely Bret is old enough so have a vague remembrance of the chaotic scene with US cutting and running from Saigon, Vietnam, long before Afghanistan.

    If Bret could momentarily free himself from the delusional belief in America 1st indispensable, exceptionalism, he might realize the only thing exceptional about the US, is since WWII, the US has bombed and invaded only, small, poor, 3rd World Nations, and couldn’t get a win in any of them, with the most expensive Military Force Taxpayers ever had to pay for, even sacrificing their own Civilian needs to pay for the high cost of maintaining over 800 Military Installations all over God’s Earth.

    That’s called Divine Justice at work behind the scenes in THIS World!

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    1. Those propaganda stenographers at The New York Times can’t even get a simple headline right. The good reader can help them out here. I suggest: Leaving Afghanistan is Abandoning a Historic “Mistake” (i.e., Crime)

      There. Fixed it.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. poignant remarks, ray joseph cormier. it was propitious that the NYT editors gathered the courage to print your piece. w/ empressement, jeanie mceachern.

      PS: are you a french canandian from québec?

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      1. Bien oui, Jeanie! I was born in Verdun in 1944 when Verdun was a majority poor English neighbourhood of Montreal, 12 years before Television came to CanaDa. Wile I have a French name, my 1st language is English

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        1. ah oui! magnifique! my husband was birthed in montreal as well, on the mcgill campus in 1940. i was birthed in north conway, new hampshire, in 1941, met my husband at cornell, and married him hoping i could seamlessly slide into canadian citizenship. however, i never managed to become a legit canadian, b/c we have been living/working primarily in foreign countries ever since. so i could never fulfill the canadian residence requirements. nonetheless, we did make certain all 7 of our bantlings were canadian citizens. our daughters’ EARTH PATH schools [outdoor education and environmental schools] are located in la pèche, PQ, wakefield, PQ, and the gatineau region near ottawa.

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      2. p.s. Jeanie.
        Interesting co-incidence you used the word “poignant.”
        When I submitted the comment, I posted this on my FaceBook page,
        “Still waiting to see if The New York Times will publish this comment on Bret Stephens article? They have not published particularly poignant comments on articles in the Past.”

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        1. yet i had no clue you wrote that, ray jos. must be prescience, tho’ i’ve never been one to accurately vaticinate any event or outcome… not even a ponderous weather system stirring above the horizon 7 minutes away. apologies, i’m off-topic, as usual!

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          1. Obviously, Jeanie, I had no power or influence to make it happen, so I can’t boast about myself, but September 13, 1976, The Kansas City Times was quoting me publishing this,
            “There are 30 months before the fate of the world will be sealed with EITHER Destruction OR the Universal Brotherhood of Man,¨ he said. ¨The 30 month figure concerned a Treaty between Israel and Egypt.¨

            NOTE: This does not say Armageddon happens in 30 months from the article.

            Not 29 or 31, but exactly 30 months later, in March 1979, history shows a Treaty between Israel and Egypt was signed. The Camp David Accord.
            History shows talks broke down on the 12th day and no Treaty was to be signed.
            Begin and Sadat were leaving.
            It was on the 13th Day, as in the date of the 1976 Article and the picture accompanying it, an unexpected window of opportunity appeared and opened the way for the Treaty to be signed.

            This signified the Universal Brotherhood part of the quote.
            But what about the Destruction part?

            The 1979 Iranian Revolution happened the month earlier, in February.
            Reading the MASS Media and Alternate Media vis a vis Israel and Iran, these 45 years later, the possibility of the Destruction part in the 1976 record, is at the precipice in line with the prescience in the 1976 Historical Record.

            SIGNS OF THE TIMES

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    3. One sad thing about Endless War is that the plan has been out there for anyone to see for 20 years. General Wesley Clark has spoken publicly about the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski plan to destroy seven countries in five years. We are still working on that.

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  4. Excellent Post, and coming just after the “Cancel the F-35..” column gives me some ideas–
    If you were willing to do the research, how about a project with your readers: As a first step in reducing the DoD budget, cancel the F-35 contracts ( or freeze the whole project and build no more planes if you want to get some buy-in from the builders and Congress) and use the planes for flyovers at the Super Bowl or the former president’s 2024 inaugural–calculate how much the US would save, and create a contest to see where those billions might best be used/redirected–50-50 split between a foreign and domestic non-military project annually, to begin to acknowledge and address the damage both at home and abroad that the US has inflicted with its militarization of foreign and domestic policies.
    Two suggestions from me — From an article in yesterday’s LA Times, “Jordan’s drinking water scarce as Dead Sea shrinking rapidly”, this little landlocked kingdom has been a steadfast ally
    of the US and its people have suffered greatly with all the Middle East troubles–We could assign the Navy Seabees to build desalinization plants or even a water pipeline — if we can build thousands of miles of oil /gas pipelines across the US, this should be a much easier and much-appreciated gift with a different message from our military.
    The other suggestion, for a domestic project, is more difficult and challenging–to develop and promulgate: a national educational program free to any state that would include it in public
    secondary and college/university curricula–a semester or two on the “empathy gap”
    (as a retired psychiatrist, it’s more of a crevasse) and associated, largely untaught, bodies of knowledge about human psychological development, mental health, thinking and reasoning
    functions including critical thinking, personality development and disorders (this is where
    lack of empathy comes into play), and how growing into these functions produces good engaged citizens. I’m still astonished at how little many citizens seem to know about the history of
    medicine (e.g. refusing vaccinations, unaware that 2 generations ago before antibiotics and
    most vaccines) parents could expect to lose at least 2 of their 5 children to infections before the age of 12), of awareness of psychological disorders that preclude seeing the Big Lie for what it is, or of buying into obvious con schemes.

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  5. I love the reference toward empathy and our populations lack of it’s powerful dynamic. Empathy is a gift to another as well as oneself. I believe it actually helps make one less fearful and opens ones heart center. If we had spent 20 years devoted to an empathetic exchange between wise diplomatic representatives from all sides of those countries involved in this conflict; we would be celebrating never before experienced levels of success.
    Regarding the war departments bottom line increasing …. well that pretty much proves that the only mission the Pentagon is on is one that WILL ALWAYS enrich our nations finest , who are wedded to the MIC. We have no need wars, we just need to propagate the fear of it.

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    1. utejack, you have the spiritual connection to, commitment to, and the fearless focus on the profundity of thoughts that translate into mind-expanding dialogue. your words propine a catalyzing dynamic that helps amplify ideations for those of us who are buddhist-oriented expats residing among the oriental and occidental mindoro islanders… those islanders whose concepts and precepts we subscribe to and endeavour to learn from.

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