Biden’s Defense Spending Is Wasteful, Unsafe, and Prioritizes Special Interests Over National Security: Quincy Institute

Originally published June 8, 2023 2:00 pm PDT

A new report from the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft (Qi) critiques the Biden administration’s defense spending strategy, arguing that it is economically wasteful and reduces overall safety for both America and the world.

The report, titled “More Money, Less Security: Pentagon Spending and Strategy in the Biden Administration,” offers a comprehensive review of the strategic and economic issues linked to current US defense policy.

In the report’s executive summary, it is mentioned that the Biden administration has requested $886 billion for national defense for Fiscal Year 2024.

“That figure could go even higher under the terms of the debt ceiling deal reached by President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy,” the report warns.

The report argues that these vast amounts are used to back a “flawed National Defense Strategy” that tries “to go everywhere and do everything, from winning a war with Russia or China, to intervening in Iran or North Korea, to continuing to fight a global war on terror that involves military activities in at least 85 countries.”

It further claims that adhering to the current strategy is not only “economically wasteful, but will also make America and the world less safe.”

Qi draws attention to the repercussions of military over-commitment, noting that it often results in “unnecessary conflicts that drain lives and treasure” and can cause regional instability, as was the case with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Additionally, prioritizing military commitments over challenges like climate change and pandemics could heighten the human and security consequences of such threats, by reducing the resources available to combat them.

The influence of the arms industry is a crucial aspect of the problem, according to the report.

Backed by over $83 million in campaign contributions and employing 820 lobbyists, the industry allegedly uses the employment its programs create to persuade lawmakers to fund higher budgets, putting “special interests above the national interest.”

Qi argues that “The United States could mount a robust defense for far less money” if it pursued a restrained strategy that includes more reliance on allies and an emphasis on diplomacy.

They estimate that this approach could “save at least $1.3 trillion over the next decade,” funds that could be redirected to other areas of pressing national concern.

However, the report adds that this requires “political and budgetary reforms to reduce the immense power of the arms lobby.”

To lessen the economic grip of the arms industry on Pentagon spending, the report suggests several measures.

Among them, the report recommends barring flag officers and senior Pentagon officials from working for any contractor that receives more than $1 billion per year in Pentagon contracts.

It also calls for an end to the practice of defense sector funding campaigns of members of the armed services committees and defense appropriations subcommittees.

Another recommended step is the development of “regional economic strategies that create civilian alternatives for heavily defense dependent areas”, with a focus on creating new hubs for the development and production of green technologies, considering the urgent threat posed by climate change.

The report underscores the necessity of rethinking current Pentagon spending and strategies to ensure not only economic efficiency but also the overall safety and well-being of America and the world.