January 30, 2002
OAKLAND, Calif.While then Governor George W. Bush was campaigning for president, he proposed a $45 billion increase in annual spending over the next decade. By comparison, then Vice President Al Gore proposed a $100 billion increase over the same period.
After the events of Sept. 11, 2001, it appears that President Bush will be keeping his campaign promise.
But given that the current enemy facing the U.S. is a decentralized network of terrorist organizations and a few rogue states, has the Bush administration made the case that military spending should continue at Cold War levels?
No, says economist Robert Higgs, Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute. Among his books are Arms, Politics And The Economy and Crisis And Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government (Oxford University Press).
The Pentagons business-as-usual defense policyobviouslyfailed to defend the American people on Sept. 11. Nor will it defend them in the future, writes Higgs in a forthcoming article.
Just possibly, whats good for Lockheed-Martin, the top brass at the Pentagon, and the congressman in cahoots with them is not necessarily good for national security.
Higgs Etceteras column, The Cold War Is Over, but U.S. Preparation for It Continues appeared in the quarterly journal he edits, The Independent Review, before the events of Sept. 11.
In his study, Higgs notes that in 1999, the U.S. accounted for 36 percent of world military expenditure. By comparison, U.S. allies Japan, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy ranked second through sixth, respectively, and as a group accounted for 26 percent. Russia ranked seventh.
Higgs also points out that during the Cold War years (1955-65 and 1974-80), defense spending averaged $281 billion (dollars in 1999 purchasing power). That trend continued, as the average level of annual defense spending from 1995 through 2000 was $278 billion (dollars in 1999 purchasing power).