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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 14:14 GMT
US defence spending: Does it add up?
President Bush has announced the biggest increase in US defence spending in the last 20 years.

A 15% rise of $43bn will be allocated to fight the war against terror to fund missile defences, precision weaponry, hi-tech equipment and salary increases for uniformed personnel.

The President said, "The most basic commitment of our government will be the security of our country."

A quarter of the money will fund homeland defence - extra FBI officers and airport security workers, research into bio-terrorism and equipment to improve safety of the mail system and postal staff.

US defence analysts have criticised Bush for making a return to deficit spending during the recession and taking advantage of the current climate in America to boost traditional defence programmes. They argue that advancing the national missile defence shield is inappropriate in a war against terrorism.

Do you think the increased resources are justified given the economic climate? Is the funding of traditional defence programmes suitable for the war on terrorism?

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

All this talk about increasing military forces does not solve the issue at why people are so fed up around the world that they would resort to suicide murders. These issues need to be addressed individually and a united council such as the UN needs to make unbiased decisions to improve political outcries internationally. As for airport security increases. This is a myth, I have travelled on an airline recently and security took away a pair of nail clippers for security reasons, then the airline served dinner with stainless steel knives and forks, how does this make sense?
Elias, Canada

President Bush is completely justified in raising the defence budget that Bill Clinton so readily sliced down.

Joe, USA
President Bush is completely justified in raising the defence budget that Bill Clinton so readily sliced down. Here's some food for thought: Defence cuts caused certain fighter jets to be decommissioned in airbases. One such airbase was Stewart Air Force Base, 80 miles north of New York City. If Clinton had not cut the defence budget, the jets would be there. If the jets were there, they would have intercepted the hijacked planes 5 minutes later. It may not have prevented September 11, but those planes sure would have helped. Bush has every right to increase defence spending and rebuild our military to where it should be.
Joe, USA

The American defence budget was decimated by 8 years of the military hating Clinton administration. President Bush is merely playing 'catch-up', plus attempting to get our soldiers off public welfare.
Jim Hubbell, Whitesboro, Texas

Although many improvements have been needed for some time in our immigration controls, the huge shift of funds from already hideously under funded social services to the military-industrial complex will only serve to hurt the poor and disenfranchised. America must take care of its own, while learning to live as a responsible member of the global village. To do otherwise is to risk ridicule and leave the faltering democratic experiment of the United States of America as an historical lesson in learning how to be a civil society.
Reverend James C. Lovette-Black, USA

It shouldn't surprise anyone that the pro-business Bush would rather give money to further inflate the military industrial complex. Defense contractors will get fat while millions of Americans go without jobs, without health insurance, and in the case of Enron employees, without retirement savings after years of slaving to achieve the "American Dream". But the wrongness of Bush's choice will come to light when we see how little a missile defense shield protects us from terrorists who live next door, who board our boats, our planes and other vehicles. A missile defense shield won't protect one American from the next terrorist attack. And the way the U.S. government is recklessly sowing more seeds of hatred around the world through its policies (supporting Israel, ignoring the Geneva Convention), you can bet there will be more terror.
Zina, USA

Our military men and women deserve the very best

Leslie, Good Old USA
Most of the adult population has not seen a world war or lived in a city that was being bombed. Men and women who will stand and defend our country deserve to be supported. Our military spending during the last administration caused a 2/3 reduction and put many families on welfare. I enjoy not living in fear and will give anything to be protected. Our military men and women deserve the very best. President Bush has put our protection as a number one goal and I support him fully. The EU should stay out of our business.
Leslie, Good Old USA

If America was completely isolationist, I would agree that the rest of the world wouldn't have a right to argue how it spends its money. But the fact is that the US takes an active and substantial roll in world affairs and so should come under the scrutiny of the rest of us.
Tomi, UK

Who cares? It's their money although it does seem rather silly. The 'war' in Afghanistan has cost about $4billion to date - they could have probably BOUGHT the country for that!
William R, South Africa

Islam; why can't this image be combated?

Samsher Khan, Windsor, Canada
Here's a thought. How about spending some money on eliminating ignorance in North America about Islam and its adherents in the US in particular? We have all seen the horrific events of 11 September and how blatantly the press seemed to blame all of North America's Muslims. Why can't this image be combated?
Samsher Khan, Windsor, Canada

It is interesting how the Republicans are constantly accusing the Democrats of spending out of control. Where is this $45 billion going to come from after the biggest tax cut in US history, and in the middle of a recession? It is just flat-out irresponsible.
Larry, USA

This spending is justified in the name of defence but the real aim is to protect US economic interests by remaining the biggest bully in the neighbourhood. Looking back over recent history, it's clear that the US uses military might to destroy regimes that it doesn't like, then offers millions to rebuild the shattered country afterwards in a form that is acceptable to the US - this is exactly what is happening in Afghanistan, where the prize for US companies is OIL.
Nigel Burton, Australia

Higher wages for the well-off arms manufacturers only makes them richer

Barry P, England
Raising defence spending has been the traditional way of kick-starting a stalled economy. However since there are already enough weapons in the world to mess up every country several times over, would it not be a better idea to spend money on the poorer end of the economy? Higher wages for the well-off arms manufacturers only makes them richer; a much smaller amount spent on the poor has a much greater positive effect.
Barry P, England

The evidence of the last few months suggests that terrorism can indeed be defeated by overwhelming military force. "Understanding" why Islamic countries despise the West won't ever stop the extremists.
Mark, UK

President Bush has so far in his term been very generous to the donors of his campaign. Do I have to say Enron? How do we know whether the defence expense increase is good for the country or good for the defence contractors?
Steve, USA

Why does anyone from Europe care how much we spend on defence? Americans certainly don't tell England how to spend its money. If we did, you might have a health system that worked.
Andrew, USA

The US should try a different, friendlier approach towards the international community

Kris Vamadevan, USA
If the US had spent just 10% of their defence budget in helping countries like Afghanistan, I think the Afghans and maybe even al-Qaeda would have had a different opinion about this country. The US should try a different, friendlier approach towards the international community, not show off their military might.
Kris Vamadevan, USA

I think it entirely appropriate because the previous administration decimated the value of the military and therefore placed our security in jeopardy. WE have to put that right now and we have a leader who has the courage to do something about it.
Di Stewart, USA

If 300 billion dollars was not enough to prevent September 11, what good will another 48 billion do? Better to get away from the fossil fuel addiction by funding alternative energy sources and conservation.
J. C. Bolton, USA

This expenditure will create lots of new jobs

Rodger Edwards, UK
The US public approval of the announcement is clear: this expenditure will create lots of new jobs and protect many others, particularly in aerospace.
Rodger Edwards, UK

The US defence umbrella allows those who live comfortably beneath it to happily neglect their own defence spending and rely on the US to clean up messes in their back yards (such as former Yugoslavia). I fail to see how these countries are in any position to complain about how the US spends its defence budget. Why is there a moral imperative that the US does everything while the rest of the world sits around acting indignant?
Philip, San Francisco, US

Terrorism is a shadowy figure that hides in the darkest of corners: intelligence should be the key spending area for the US Government.
Lee, England

It would not have prevented 11 September

Shaun, Teignmouth UK
During a recession there are far better things that the money can be spent upon than a fanciful missile defence system, which will cost billions and in all probability never be used. It would not have prevented 11 September even if it had been in place. It seems like rather an irresponsible way to use up the budget at a time when industry is really feeling the pinch.
Shaun, Teignmouth UK

Europeans are going to tell America how to spend our money - what is this world coming to? Worry about your own fiscal spending and keep out of ours.
Casey, NYC, US

Mr Bush, what about Medicaid and US healthcare for the jobless? What good is a country that can defend itself, if you don't start to care for the people who live in it first?
Bridget, US

The increase goes where it's truly needed: meaningful pay rises for our forces

Peter C Kohler, US
It's essential. As Bush said, the most important role of our government is the defence of the nation and its citizens. Anything less would be irresponsible - like the eight years of savage military budget cuts during the Clinton administration. What's heartening is that much of the increase goes where it's truly needed: meaningful pay rises for our forces personnel. We're proud of them and they need to be taken care of. I'd much rather spend my tax money on our lads in uniform than throwing it away on aid to ingrate foreign countries.
Peter C Kohler, US

Does anyone truly believe this will really help bring an end to terrorism? Of course it won't! No matter how expensive a bomb is, it's useless against something like terrorism, which breeds from poverty, deprivation, lack of education and lack of hope in an unfair world. Those billions should be spend to help rebuild, not to help further destroy!
Martin, England

A strong military benefits not only every American citizen but world citizens as well

Janet S, US
Would we rather have the latest, most precise weapons or give the National Endowment for the Arts more money to encourage moronic, modernistic "art"? Would we rather have well-trained troops or pay farmers not to farm? Make no mistake, the money will be spent and if not on the military, it will go on questionable things that benefit few American citizens. A strong military benefits not only every American citizen but world citizens as well.
Janet S, US

Considering all the wars fought over oil by and for the US, $48bn invested in non-oil energy development would go much further towards making the US - and thus the rest of the world - a safer place, and cleaner too.
Chris, UK

I am unconvinced that any additional spending will help win the war on terrorism; it can only be won when America realises that understanding, not bombs, will heal the growing gap between it and the Muslim world. More missiles and more collateral damage only increase the demand for terrorism amongst populations who have their security and dignity taken from them. If anyone can explain to me how the missile defence system is supposed to defend against scattered stateless terrorist organisations (who most likely don't have warheads, let alone missiles to mount them on) I'd be glad to hear it.
Tariq Fancy, Canada

Without strong defence, there is no hope of the economy recovering

Guy Hammond, England
Without strong defence, there is no hope of the economy recovering. Businesses can't make investments if they are afraid terrorists will attack new offices or factories. The extra money will revitalise sectors of the economy such as aerospace, which suffered badly at the hands of terrorists.
Guy Hammond, England

The cost of everything on this scale is tremendous but if the government was more responsible with spending on luxuries for elected officials then the use of money on real issues would become more feasible. I think Bush doesn't want too much money in the bank to avoid the corruption and scandal that large surpluses usually tempt.
Matt, US

See also:

24 Jan 02 | Americas
Big boost for US military spending
21 Jun 01 | UK Politics
'Confront Bush on Star Wars' - MPs
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