Is the US a Warfare State?

By John M. Bachar, Jr.

Perpetual War

    In the 243 year existence of the US (1776 – 2018), it has been involved in 79 wars. If we define a “war year” as one during which the US was involved in war part or all of the year, and if we define a “peace year” as one during which the US was not involved in war, then the record shows there were 224 war years (92.5%) and only 18 peace years (7.5%)!

There have been 45 presidents. If we define a “war president” as one whose entire term included at least one war year, and if we define a “peace president” as one whose entire term included only peace years, then the record shows there were 45 war presidents and no peace presidents!

In addition to the aforementioned 79 wars, the U.S.A is involved on many “secret wars”. In 2017, US Special Operations forces, including Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets, deployed to 149 countries around the world, according to figures provided to Tom Dispatch by US Special Operations Command. That’s about 75 percent of the nations on the planet and represents a jump from the 138 countries that saw such deployments in 2016 under the Obama administration. It’s also a jump of nearly 150 percent from the last days of George W. Bush’s White House. This record-setting number of deployments comes as US  commandos are battling a plethora of non-state groups in quasi-wars that stretch from Africa and the Middle East to Asia.

Prisoner of the Military-Industrial Complex

     In Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, January 17, 1961, he warned against a formidable union of defense contractors and the armed forces:

“We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all US corporations. This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We …must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”

We shall see below how much his wisdom has been ignored.

The Greatest Purveyor of Violence Today

     In “Beyond Vietnam – A Time to Break Silence,” a speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City, he declares: “my conscience leaves me no other choice” but to oppose the war, and he says: “I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.” He predicted generations of future clergy and laity concerned about other wars, if we did make a fundamental change. The historical record, however, overwhelmingly shows that MLK’s impassioned and humane plea for non-violence has fallen on the deaf ears of the military industrial complex.

Consequences of the Out-of-Control Military Industrial Complex, the US Empire and the National Security/Surveillance State

Department of Defense (DOD)

     The defense industry is a partnership between government agencies and the private sector industry involved in research, development, production, and service of military programs, arms, personnel, and facilities.

DOD is the largest employer in the World. It has 3.2 million employees, including 1.6 million active-duty military personnel of which 250,000 staff foreign U.S. military bases. There are 801,000 in the Coast Guard and Reserves and 800,000 civilian employees.

DOD also has 66,000 contractors, of which over 50,000 are corporations. The total employment is just under 2,000,000. DOD has contractors in 190 of the 200 nations on Earth.

Since 2001, the national debt increased by $14.327 trillion, from $5.674 trillion to $20.201 trillion, a 356% increase! This is equivalent to an annual compound interest rate of 7.47%! However, military spending over this period exceeded the national debt growth by $1.654 trillion, an 11.4% annual rate of increase!

Federal outlays for all programs other than the military were 41.6% of spending ($15.267 trillion); the percentage for military outlays was 44% ($15.181 trillion); the remaining 14.4% went for interest outlays ($5.302 trillion). The percentage for military plus interest outlays combined — because most of the interest covers past wars — was 58.4% ($21.683 trillion)! For the 19 fiscal year period, 2001 – 2019, the analysis of all federal budgets by WRL shows that 80% of annual interest outlays are due to military spending. It comes to $23.374 trillion! Other military costs are hidden in the Energy Dept. (handling nuclear weapons and associated research and waste) or NASA (launching satellites with military payloads) or in the “black” (secret) intelligence budget for covert military operations by CIA and other agencies.

US Military Spending vs. All Other Countries

     In 2016, the US spent at least $1.036 trillion on the military, which is 3.66 times more than the combined total of $0.2829 trillion for China ( $0.2157) and Russia ($0.0672)! 1.6 times more than the whole rest of the world combined ($0.650 trillion)!

Nuclear Weapons Spending

     Between 1940 and 1996, the U.S. government spent at least $9.08 trillion in current dollars on nuclear weapons, including platforms development (aircraft, rockets, submarines and facilities), command and control, maintenance, waste management and administrative costs. Since 1945, the US has produced more than 70,000 nuclear warheads, which is more than all other nuclear weapon states combined. As of 2017, the US has an inventory of 6,800 nuclear warheads; of these, 2,800 are retired and awaiting dismantlement and 4,018 are part of the U.S. stockpile. Of these, 1,411 are deployed on 673 Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles, SLBMs and strategic bombers. Trump (like Obama) wants to spend $1.2 trillion on upgrading the nuclear arsenal.

Destruction, Deaths and Casualties Caused by U.S. Military Forces

     Since the end of World War II, U.S. military forces were directly responsible for 10-15 million deaths during the Korean and Vietnam Wars and the two Iraq Wars. The Korean War also includes Chinese deaths while the Vietnam War also includes fatalities in Cambodia and Laos.

There also are proxy wars for which the US is responsible. In the latter, there were 9-14 million deaths in Afghanistan, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, East Timor, Guatemala, Indonesia, Pakistan and Sudan. But the victims are not just from big nations or one part of the world. The remaining deaths were in smaller countries that constitute over half the total number of nations. Virtually all parts of the world have been the target of U.S. intervention. The overall conclusion reached is that the United States most likely has been responsible since WWII for the deaths of 20-30 million people.

Climbing Out Of The Abyss

     We are a warfare state, hopelessly addicted to war. What can we do to end this madness? I propose that We the People of the United States, in Order to assure form a non-violent and humane world society, create a Department of Peace to establish Justice, Liberty and the General Welfare of all.

A Department of Peace, in contrast to the Department of Defense (as many decades of history show, a euphemism for “Department of War”), is dedicated to the resolution of conflicts by exhaustive, peaceful, non-violent, non-threatening means, rather than by the use or threats of force if “irresolvable” impasses in negotiations ultimately occur. In short, let’s agree to disagree and coexist without killing each other.

A national commitment is essential in order to transform our horrendous wasteful war economy to one that fulfills the multitude of severely neglected needs of the people. A future outlay of at least $23.374 trillion (= military/national debt spending for the 19 fiscal year period 2001 – 2019) would go a long way in providing the trillions of dollars to pay for:


Free tuition for every post-secondary student

Free job training for anyone seeking employment

Rebuilding the crumbling US  infrastructure

Medicare for all

Free internet service for all households

Free mass transit for all urban regions

Free US Postal Service

Conversion from fossil fuel to clean energy sources (i.e. wind, solar)

Restoration and creation of national parks, wilderness areas and national monuments with free access to all.

Regulations for organic farming and the elimination of harmful pesticides.


Breaking the long chokehold of militarism would enable everyone to thrive and enjoy the benefits of a much more humane society. Are you ready to start?

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