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Wednesday, 6 February, 2002, 15:11 GMT
US defence spending: Does it add up?
President George W. Bush has proposed a $2.13 trillion budget to Congress that would pour billions of dollars into the armed forces but cut government spending to keep the deficit down.

Defence spending is projected to rise by $48bn, or 12%, the biggest increase in 20 years, while domestic 'homeland' security spending will jump 111% to $37.7bn.

But funding for hundreds of programmes - including education, health, environmental and highway - would be cut.

US defence analysts have criticised Bush for returning 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 debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction


Any other policy would be irresponsible

John F, USA
The President of the USA is doing the proper thing in light of the ever-growing threat from abroad. It is necessary and appropriate after 9/11 to redirect our wealth to the protection of our citizens. Any other policy would be irresponsible. Our basic social needs and services are already provided for. The events of 9/11 showed us that our security needs are not. We lost more than a mere $48 billion on 9/11, it's a drop in the bucket compared to what's at risk. The people who complain about 48 billion forget that we probably waste triple that on ineffective social programs.
John F, USA

From reading the statements on this page, it becomes quite clear that the Americans know nothing about foreign policy. All the US participants want to spend more on their arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. The rest of us want them to use a better system of Foreign Policy and political debate. Surely it's better to talk to your enemies and try and reason with them than just kill them because they think differently from you.
Robert, U.K.

There are countless arguments to be had against this budget and against the proposition that defence spending, be it domestic or no, will not lead to peace. America has always prided itself as "the home of the free," but if "free" means imposing our idea of "free" on other nations then I wonder.
David Tansey, USA

I am not against the US increasing defence spending for any reason except that the threats they currently face cannot be neutralized by the strength of the armed forces. Terrorists cannot afford fighter planes, battleships or tanks. They are just using anti-terrorism as a reason to stock up. Also, we all know where the Republicans get their money from. I would much rather the money went into homeland restructuring and, if they still have a surplus, send it to help the relief efforts in Afghanistan or pay their dues to the UN.
RB, India/US

America continues to isolate itself from the rest of the world. It may build a shield around itself but as long as its policies remain unfair and biased, there would always be terrorism. Eradication of terrorism does not lie in spending billions of dollars in military arsenal. I only hope that Europeans would be wise enough to see that the US does not care about them. NATO is a sham and was the US' way of keeping communist USSR at bay. America continues to isolate itself.
Oliver John, Netherlands


Desperate times call for desperate measures

Rachel, US
I don't want spending cut for social programs, health or education, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Moreover, military spending was severely cut back during Clinton's term, so I consider it catching up. I really can't speak for the average American, but I don't want to live in a country where I have too worry about more planes being flown into skyscrapers. Having said that, I think the missile defence system plans are a bad idea at this point.
Rachel, US

Changing the United States national economy to an economy for war does not help the people of the USA. What happens once the war against terror has subsided? How will George Bush recover the US public services? Without education, infrastructure, health and welfare there is no nation to protect. The winds of a new cold war are blowing again. New enemies and new allies but still the same game. Where does it stop and how can George Bush stop it when the enemy cannot be easily defined or contained. There are solutions to these problems but we must learn from the past and not look for the short-term vote winning fixes or line pockets of arms manufacturers. There are no victors in war only victims.
Robert Sydee, United Kingdom

There is little doubt that the increase is appropriate if it is used in the correct way. By correct I mean that we should contribute as much as is possible to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. There is little doubt in my mind that this will consume a large proportion of this increase, perhaps as much as half. The US has been extremely uncooperative in its contribution to the peacekeeping effort now underway in Afghanistan. If this lack of concern for Afghanistan's stability continues there is a danger that they could fall back under the control of warlords and illegitimate regimes. The US needs to use this increase in defence spending to help Afghanistan, not to threaten Iraq, Iran and North Korea. In the long term a peaceful, friendly Afghanistan is much more desirable than another war!
Patrick, US

It's to compensate for the excessive irresponsible defence cuts of the 1990's. Clinton's cuts were far deeper than the $48 Billion Bush wants as an increase, and one could reasonably argue, if we didn't have short-sighted draconian decreases then, we'd not need an increase now. Where we now have many soldiers families barely surviving on food stamps, where our aircraft are falling from the sky for being so old and worn out (including at least 2 of the aircraft lost in Afghanistan), this increase is entirely appropriate.
Steve Kenney, USA

How anyone can think, after Mr. Bush's State of the Union Address, that this is still a war on terrorism is beyond me. It's a war on anything Mr. Bush and the U.S. government don't like, and he clearly thinks the entire resources of the nation are at his disposal. This type of spending is inappropriate even without a recession. No government spending will improve the lot of the U.S. citizen, nor has it for decades. And it's not about defence; that's an intentional misnomer. I would ask citizens of other nations to remember at this time that the US government and the US citizen are two very different things; and the former has no regard whatsoever for the latter.
Dave Miller, USA

I will take a fair and impartial foreign policy over a missile defence shield any day and don't believe that the majority of Americans aren't behind me on this one.
Brendon, U.S.A.

The question posed makes it sound as if security is optional. It would be nice if the military was non-essential, but the reality is that it is very necessary. If the funds are being used to adapt the military to the new realities and threats of today's world then I don't have a problem with them. A funding increase was due in certain sectors of the military as the US military has been increasingly asked to do more while funding was either cut or stagnant over the course of the 90's. Comments, such as those from Ron ignore reality.
Paul, USA

Defending its citizens is one of the few governmental obligations explicitly stated in the US Constitution. Forty eight billion is nothing compared to the economic toll another successful WTC attack would cost the USA and its allies. As long as Iran, Iraq, and North Korea develop weapons of mass destruction, provide weapons and aid to terrorists, and continue to project their hatred toward the United States of America outside of their borders, President Bush will have to prepare our country for future conflict. In the long run, the leadership in these countries must be destroyed for the good of the world.
Bill Douglass, Chicago, USA

It became very clear on Sept 11 that the US has not been spending nearly enough on domestic security. As for missile defence, with one country after another developing offensive missiles, it's pretty clear that we will need it sooner or later, and it's not the sort of thing that can be developed in a hurry at the last minute. Overall, I'd say Bush has it about right, and I think he'll enjoy fighting his critics.
Jon Livesey, USA

Deja-vu. Red Scare all over again, except it's not the Communists but the Muslims now. Communists were portrayed as "evil", American public rights privacy was significantly lowered and damaged, police and military powers were increased disproportionately, and the military budget was boosted. That was then, when Communism was a "threat". And now? Exactly the same, except now terrorism is a "threat". Of course such huge budget cannot be justified! Ask yourselves - why did 9-11 events happen? The American foreign policy in the Middle East is one of the main reasons. If America changes this, terrorism will be reduced significantly in a more effective and less bloody way. Unfortunately, it is not the American way, so it comes as no surprise that the American public is supporting this military budget.
SK, Canada

Those familiar with our system know that this will be debated and negotiated in Congress for months to come. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be significant increases in military spending. The times call for it. I do not think Bush will get all the tax cuts he is seeking. I do however believe that many social programs will be cut and I think this is tragic. All in all though I think the security of our homeland and citizenry from the threat of domestic and foreign foes should be our number one priority.
Patrick, US in Germany

It is indeed sickening that with so much poverty in this world, Bush is building precision weapons to "kill better". Just think, those billions of taxpayers money could be used for medicare, schools and education. It is ironic that Koffi Annan is waging a war on Poverty whilst the richest country in the World is building weapons of mass destruction. Has your President no morals?
Kevin, Hong Kong

What choice do we have but to increase military spending? After the Clinton years our military is depleted and over worked and under paid. We (USA) live in a different since 9-11 and we have to pay the price for our liberty.
Ken Hering, USA

As many Americans have stated, how Bush spends their money is no concern of us "critics" here in Europe. If he wants to divert copious amounts of money from other essential services into what is already the world's largest, most powerful military, then so be it. What is not on, is claiming this money is to "fight the war on terrorism". All the ships, planes and bombs in the world are not going to stop a plane being flown into buildings, or a bomb being smuggled in to a US city. (Doesn't the fact that Osama bin Laden is still on the run show that "terrorism" isn't a target you can wipe out with military might?) This is nothing more than Bush using the "war on terrorism" as a pretence for satisfying his selfish personal agenda.
Simon, UK/Finland

I guess Ron Allen has already forgotten what happened on September 11th and does not look at the current events in the world. Thank God that we have a President that knows what it takes to keep America and the rest of the free world on top of what's going on and preparing to prevent other attacks. With a President like George Bush and with our friends in the UK we can continue to have the two greatest countries in the world.
Lynn Stanley, USA

Our "president" is taking advantage of us - rewarding the military contractors (the executives anyway) at the expense of the US taxpayers. A war-monger with a credit card and blank cheques that we have to pay - it's a sad state of affairs.
Ron Allen, USA

See also:

04 Feb 02 | Business
Bush unveils 'war' budget
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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