Skip to content

What’s “Defense Spending?”

February 5, 2010

Words and phrases make a difference.  To much of Washington, the military provides the defense of the United States. Period.  To us at FCNL, the military provides only the military defense and the military offense (as in Bush 43’s so-called “preventive war”) of the United States.  Therefore, we at FCNL say “military spending” not “defense spending” when we look at the budget  numbers.

Our budget expert Ruth Flower has completed her analyses of how your 2009 federal tax dollars were spent and of President Obama’s budget request for the next fiscal year.

Most “policy shops” inside the Beltway have teams of analysts who pour over these federal spending and federal budget spreadsheets.  FCNL can boast that one smart woman, namely Ruth Flower, can do that job of making sense of these numbers.  (Of course, if we had more money, we could get Ruth more help, but she does it all; those are your contributor dollars at work!)

As I reviewed Ruth’s charts and narratives about the 2009 tax year expenditures and about President Obama’s budget request for the next fiscal year, I see a stark difference in how we at FCNL see federal spending and how most of the rest of Washington see it.  Washington sees “defense spending.” We at FCNL see “military spending.”

To us at FCNL, the defense of the United States consists of a range of government policies and spending that creates the conditions for peace and for the safety of civilians here and abroad.  The pillars on which the defense the United States rests include the U.S. government establishing right relationships with other nation states, establishing a right sharing of the world’s resources, effective diplomacy, sustainable economic development, educating people to exercise the responsibilities of citizenship, introducing children and scholars to the liberating arts, and international cooperation.

If these pillars of the defense of the United States are strong, then the United States will more likely be safe, secure, and prosperous.  Also, the military defense of the United States would rarely, if ever, be used.

As you will see in Ruth’s analysis, Congress and presidents have neglected these civilian pillars for the defense of the United States.  They have grown weak.  Some have crumbled.

When the U.S. military has more members of military bands than the Department of State has diplomats, you know something is wrong.  Bridget Moix, who leads our Peaceful Prevention of Deadly Conflict Program, tells me that, today, the United States spends about 96% of its “global engagement funds” on the military and about 4% on civilian diplomacy, development, and international cooperation.  Guess what?  We taxpayers get what our Congress pays for.  Congress has been paying for military defense, and we get wars.

We don’t want to win wars; we want to prevent wars and build peace.  We should mobilize people across the country to lobby Congress to authorize and fund the civilian pillars for a just and sustainable peace and to shift spending of your tax dollars from their near total reliance on military defense.  Act now.

4 Comments
  1. Mary T. Legge permalink
    February 10, 2010 2:01 pm

    “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

  2. Lucretia Evans permalink
    February 10, 2010 4:27 pm

    You are so right in your analysis and direction:

    “We don’t want to win wars; we want to prevent wars and build peace. We should mobilize people across the country to lobby Congress to authorize and fund the civilian pillars for a just and sustainable peace and to shift spending of your tax dollars from their near total reliance on military defense. Act now.”

  3. Sally Laidlaw Williams permalink
    February 11, 2010 3:42 pm

    Friends,

    Again, THANK YOU for all the work you do, and for keeping us informed.

    I do spend time e-mailing the policy makers on the issues that concern Friends – I’m fortunate to have
    Barbara Lee as my representative, but I still e-mail her just to encourage her.

    Sally

  4. richard andrews permalink
    February 20, 2010 6:40 pm

    From the lips of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”….and ” There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war”.

    Amen.

    Thank you Joe and Ruth and Brigette and David and Jim and all at FCNL for speaking the truth that so needs to be shouted from the floor of Congress….and transformed into budgets and programs that represent the values of the people of this nation and the world.

    Again from Martin Luther King Jr., “If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who posses power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”

    Rich Andrews
    Boulder Friends meeting

    and a modified quote from a friend, “unlimited [military] growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: