Does the war in Ukraine justify an even larger US military budget?

“The 360” shows you diverse perspectives on the major stories and debates of the day.

What is happening

The Biden administration has asked Congress to approve in its budget for next year $30 billion more than lawmakers allocated for 2022. The request was part of President Biden’s request for 2023 that was released earlier. this week.

“This will be one of the biggest investments in our national security in history,” Biden said, pointedly referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Some people don’t like the increase, but we’re in a different world today.”

For the most part, presidential budgets are a political message document, since Congress alone has the authority to approve government spending. Key measures in a president’s proposal are reduced or deleted entirely by the time a final bill emerges. When it comes to defense spending, however, Congress usually meets or exceeds presidential demand. This year’s budget, for example, provided roughly what Biden called for last year.

dwarfs that of any other nation and of all defense spending in the world. In 2020, the United States surpasses the top 11 spending countries combined.

Why there is debate

Defense spending proposals can be a no-win situation for presidents. Whatever figure they come up with, it will be . Biden’s budget inspired that familiar dynamic this week, but the war in Ukraine has added a new wrinkle to that well-worn debate.

Many Republicans in Washington have argued that Biden’s claim currently faces the United States around the world. They argue that competitiveness with Russia and China requires an even greater investment to ensure that the United States has a modern military capable of winning a major war. Biden’s critics also say his numbers are much less meaningful once last year’s inflation is taken into account.

Those who claim less military spending say the war in Ukraine is no reason to keep pumping more money into what they see as a bloated defense budget. They argue that huge portions of this money never reach the battlefield, are or are being used to fund misguided interventions overseas. “No one doubts, no one, that there are tens of billions of dollars of waste, fraud and cost overruns, I-Vt said Wednesday.

Many progressive Democrats also say it’s dishonest for Congress to keep increasing military spending year after year while claiming essential programs like COVID funding, the child tax credit and climate initiatives are too expensive. .

And after

Congress has become accustomed in recent years to running to, sometimes beyond, the deadline to reach a budget agreement. The most recent spending bill funds the government through September, so it will likely be several months before we know how well next year’s military budget reflects Biden’s proposal.


More expenses

The United States spends more on its military because it does more than any other country

“In post-Cold War America, it is simply a myth that the Pentagon has had a bottomless pit of funding from which to buy new weapons systems and capabilities. The United States, unlike our individual adversaries or allies, has global commitments and interests in two hemispheres, four oceans, and six continents. — Editorial,

The war in Ukraine shows how essential a dominant army is

“The West’s response to Ukraine reminds us that economic and financial sanctions can be powerful, and so can soft power and moral outrage. Yet what is happening on the ground this week also reminds us that there is no substitute for hard power – for having the men and equipment to deter and, if need be, defeat a foreign adversary. —Rich Lowry

Our current army is not strong enough to win wars against China, Russia or both

“The military shortage we currently face is most acute and consequential in our ability to fight major wars with China and Russia in comparable timeframes. In practice, we lack enough key capabilities – such as penetrating bombers, attack submarines, advanced munitions, and the right reconnaissance platforms – to defeat them both at the same time. —Elbridge A. Colby,

Running an army costs more than it has ever been

“Inflation makes the military poorer overnight. The price increases affect military products such as steel for weapons and construction materials for base upgrades, fuel and electricity, as well as general maintenance and equipment parts. …Similarly, military construction has suffered a triple whammy of price increases due to ongoing domestic supply chain challenges, labor shortages affecting many industries, shrinking uncertainty and now of inflation. — Mackenzie Eaglen

Biden’s reluctance to emphasize military might makes the United States less secure

“What the Biden administration has done with its policies, its strategy and its budget is to demonstrate that it does not understand how to integrate all elements of national power; it is so reluctant to use military force that allies and adversaries alike will wonder if there is anything the United States will actually fight for. —Kori Schake,

Less expenses

The argument that Ukraine means we need to spend more makes no sense

“Ask yourself: what precisely is the question that the war in Ukraine raises and for which the answer is: “We have to spend more money”? What would we like to do that we don’t currently have the budget for? … Most of the time these days, there are no specific “gaps” mentioned when we discuss the military budget. The arguments we get are a series of grunts vaguely referring to threats to our dominance. Bad China! Must be strong!-Paul Waldman,

Defense budget cannot be approved when so many other programs are unfunded

“With Ukraine in turmoil from a war of Russian aggression and world stability threatened by a rising China, it makes sense that Biden needs a well-funded military. What makes less sense, however, is such large military spending coupled with claims that the country cannot afford strong and necessary social welfare programs – a claim we often hear from Republicans and conservative Democrats. —Jill Filipovic,

A bigger defense budget just means more profits for unaccountable military contractors

“The only winners are for-profit military contractors. It’s tempting to think – as many in Congress and the military would have us believe – that the more money we give to the Pentagon, the safer the world will be. But it has never been so simple. Colossal military spending did not stop the Russian invasion, and more money will not stop it. —Lindsay Koshgarian,

No one wins, and many suffer, when nations compete to be the biggest military spenders

“Here’s how this self-defeating feedback loop plays out: If my adversary increases his military spending, then I have to increase mine as well or accept a security cost, which forces my adversary to increase his spending even more. In the end, costs increase for all parties without any of them gaining any competitive advantage; at the same time, humanity as a whole suffers from underinvestment in the areas that are truly essential to its survival. — Carlo Rovelli and Matteo Smerlak,

It’s a myth that more defense spending automatically makes the United States safer.

“Providing military defense is a valid function of the federal government. However, this does not authorize Congress to simply rack up more spending, even when dangers exist. Nor does it mean that more spending will result in a completely safe world for us Americans. It’s partly because that world doesn’t exist. There is not a lot of money for security. — Veronique de Rugy,

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Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

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