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8 Trillion on Our Military Addiction? Why the Price Tag of the National Security Complex Should Scare the Hell Out of You

How much safety bang for its buck is the U.S. getting from those trillions?

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In other words, in the vast majority of cases, the plots we know about were broken up by "law enforcement" or civilians, in no way aided by the $7.2 trillion that was invested in the military -- or in many cases even the $636 billion that went into homeland security. And while most of those cases involved federal authorities, at least three were stopped by local law enforcement action.

In truth, given the current lack of assessment tools, it’s virtually impossible for outsiders -- and probably insiders as well -- to evaluate the effectiveness of this country’s many security-related programs. And this stymies our ability to properly determine the allocation of federal resources on the basis of program efficiency and the relative levels of the threats addressed.

So here’s one final question that just about no one asks:

Could we be less safe?

It’s possible that all that funding, especially the moneys that have gone into our various wars and conflicts, our secret drone campaigns and “black sites,” our various forays into Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and other places may actually have made us less safe. Certainly, they have exacerbated existing tensions and created new ones, eroded our standing in some of the most volatile regions of the world, resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the misery of many more, and made Iraq and Afghanistan, among other places, potential recruiting and training grounds for future generations of insurgents and terrorists.  Does anything remain of the international goodwill toward our country that was the one positive legacy of the infamous attacks of September 11, 2001?  Unlikely.

Now, isn’t it time for those 12 steps?

Chris Hellman, a TomDispatch.com regular, is a Senior Research Analyst at the National Priorities Project (NPP). He is a member of the Unified Security Budget Task Force and the Sustainable Defense Task Force. Prior to joining NPP, he worked on military budget and policy issues for the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and the Center for Defense Information. He is also a ten-year veteran of Capitol Hill, where as a congressional staffer he worked on defense and foreign policy issues.

 

 

 

 
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