US ‘addiction to war’ led to its debt crisis

The way to reign in the persisting US debt crisis is to “stop America’s wars of choice and slash its military outlays,” a US-based author-academic and former United Nations official has emphasized in an article.

“To surmount the debt crisis, America needs to stop feeding the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC), the most powerful lobby in Washington,” Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs wrote in an article published Saturday by the progressive Common Dreams news outlet, insisting that the MIC has led the US into “disastrous wars of choice” in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and now Ukraine, since 2000.

“Afghanistan was America’s cause from 2001 to 2021 until the US left it broken, bankrupt, and hungry. Ukraine is now in America’s embrace, with the same likely results: ongoing war, death, and destruction.”

In addition to ending America’s wars of choice, the article further called for the closure of “many of America’s 800 or so military bases around the world”, and “negotiating new arms control agreements” to avoid nearly a quarter of America’s annual military spending.

The article also underlined that those wars of choice have not been only “awful” for America, but they have also been “far greater disasters” for countries that America purports to be saving.

Noting that the US government debt climbed from $3.5 trillion (or 35% of the Gross Domestic Product) in 2000 to $24 trillion (or 95% of GDP) in 2022, the article emphasized the way to tackle the current debt crisis would be to “stop America’s wars of choice,” slash its monumental military spending, and replace them with real diplomacy.

According to the article, today’s debt would have been $9 trillion, if the government’s debt had remained at a modest 35% of GDP as in 2000, and the excess $15 trillion in debt incurred by the government is mainly caused by “the US government’s addiction to war and military spending.”

It cited a study by the Watson Institute at Brown University that found that the cost of US wars from the fiscal year 2001 to the fiscal year 2022 amounted to a whopping $8 trillion, more than half of the extra $15 trillion in debt.

America’s annual military spending is now around $900 billion. roughly 40% of the world’s total and greater than the next 10 countries combined, the article further emphasized.

It added: “The US military spending in 2022 was triple that of China. According to Congressional Budget Office, the military outlays for 2024-2033 will be a staggering $10.3 trillion on the current baseline. A quarter or more of that could be avoided by ending America’s wars of choice, closing down many of America’s 800 or so military bases around the world, and negotiating new arms control agreements with China and Russia.”

The article also insisted that military spending is not the only budget challenge for the US, pointing to aging and rising healthcare costs as other fiscal woes.

It then cited the Congressional Budget Office as noting that US debt will reach 185 percent of GDP by 2052 if current policies remain unchanged. Healthcare costs, it argued, should be capped while taxes on the rich should be raised.

The article concluded by insisting that “facing down the military-industrial lobby is the vital first step to putting America’s fiscal house in order — needed to save the US, and possibly the world, from America’s perverse lobby-driven politics.”

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