Fighting fund: The US$564 billion war for profit

Friday, May 4, 2007

This year's proposed US spending on the Iraq war is larger than the military budgets of China and Russia combined. The combined spending requests would push the total for Iraq to US$564 billion, according to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS).

The Pentagon budget for the current fiscal year (2007) is about $456 billion. President George Bush's proposed increase of 10% for next year will raise this figure to over half a trillion dollars, that is, $501.6 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2008.

A proposed supplemental appropriation to pay for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq "brings proposed military spending for FY 2008 to $647.2 billion, the highest level of military spending since the end of World War II", the CRS said.

Total proposed US military spending for 2008 is larger than military spending by all of the other nations in the world combined. It is:

•10 times the military budget of the second-largest military spending country in the world, China;

•larger than the combined gross domestic products of all 47 countries in sub-Saharan Africa;

•more than 30 times higher than all spending on State Department operations and non-military foreign aid combined;

•more than 120 times higher than the roughly $5 billion per year the US government spends on combatting global warming, and;

•represents 58 cents out of every dollar spent by the US government on discretionary programs: education, health, housing assistance, international affairs, natural resources and environment, justice, veterans' benefits, science and space, transportation, training/employment and social services, economic development and several more items.

According to an April 27 article "Iraq war: a nice little earner" in Asia Times Online by Ismael Hossein-zadeh, an economics professor at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, said: "Although the official military budget already eats up the lion's share of the public money (crowding out vital domestic needs), it nonetheless grossly understates the true magnitude of military spending. The real national defense budget, according to Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute, is nearly twice as much as the official budget.
"The reason for this understatement is that the official Department of Defense budget excludes not only the cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also a number of other major cost items."

That sort of money could go a long way to addressing so many of the world's most urgent problems. But war is a very profitable business for some very big and powerful corporations such as Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Vinnell and Blackwater. It has been argued that rather than profiteering from war, these corporations are making war for profit. Many of them would not exist as we know them without war.

Halliburton alone has already taken more than $13 billion from no-bid/no-audit US government contracts for providing everything from pizzas to security personnel in Iraq.

US Vice President and former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney currently holds 100,000 shares of unexercised stock options in Halliburton with a gross value of $3.2 million.

So the term "capitalist war-mongers" isn't just a slogan — it's a statement of an ugly reality.

If you want to fight the system run by these corporate war criminals then help keep the Green Left Weekly project afloat. Since the last issue, Green Left Weekly supporters raised $2913 bringing the total raised for our fighting fund so far this year to $59,908. That's 24% of our $250,000 target for this year.

To make a donation give us a call on the toll-free line 1800 634 206 (calls from within Australia only), send in a cheque to PO Box 394, Broadway NSW 2007 or donate securely online (protected by SecurePay) at: http://www.greenleft.org.au/fogl.htm.

Give us a call also if you would like to help distribute Green Left Weekly or if you want to help organise a mighty protest when Bush comes to Sydney in September this year.

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