We need a strong defense … but we cannot allow ludicrous amounts of waste and fraud when we’re trillions in debt

Debt is the greatest threat to independence any nation can face.

U.S. national debt is more than $21 trillion and currently rises at a rate of more than $5,300 per second. 

According to reports, the Pentagon has failed to account for $21 trillion spent from 1998 to 2015.  This is no exaggeration.  We don’t know what happened to $21 trillion of our defense budget.

It’s not hard to do the math. We’re $21 trillion in debt and reports say we’ve wasted $21 trillion in defense spending.

It’s not hard to do the math. We’re $21 trillion in debt and reports say we’ve wasted $21 trillion in defense spending. The lack of accountability and transparency with this alone should make your blood boil.

If we sincerely intend to do something about government’s runaway spending, we cannot avoid the discussion of the Pentagon’s questionable spending habits and military waste.  If it’s strength we want, we can’t achieve it by mortgaging our future.

If you’ve read any of my previous columns, I’ve expressed my belief that an open market can provide safe, efficient, and economical security options.  However, I’m not advocating for a privatized defense system today.  I wish to simply turn your attention to the gross mishandling of our national security funds. 

A strong defense is imperative to the protection of Liberty.

A strong defense is imperative to the protection of Liberty.  Government has ultimately assumed the role of protector for us and it is hard to see an alternative during such perilous times.  Unfortunately, this widened scope of government increases the risk for abuse and mismanagement. 

The United States leads the world with a defense budget of more than $874 billion (2018).  The National Defense Authorization Act 2019 includes a plan that will cost about $717 billion.  This is still more than the total defense budgets for the next seven leading countries combined.  A simple analysis of our defense spending habits proves why no amount of money will ever be enough.

The 46-year-old Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) project cost around $3 billion which is sadly no better than the 1972 version. The U.S. taxpayer spent billions to develop a vehicle to transport Marines back to land at a faster speed. In 2015, BAE, a major British security company and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) were paid $100 million each to complete the project, but have since failed to do so.

These companies don’t just go out of business when they fail. Both BAE and SAIC have a history of corruption.  In 2010, BAE plead guilty for “false accounting” in arms deals with the UK and the U.S.  In 2013, SAIC settled a lawsuit brought against them for fraudulent charges, alleging they received money for work that was never done.  The companies survived to see another day, another contract and many more dollars.

The U.S. Army paid Boeing-Sikorsky $7 billion to build the RAH-66 Helicopter which was expected to be the best thing ever and drum-roll please … they never left the ground. The “reason” stated was basically the government project could not keep up with the speed of technological advancement.  If you need a memory refresher for the laundry list of corruption piled around Boeing, here’s a link for you, Boeing: Corporate Rap Sheet.

The new U.S. Naval aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) has undergone multiple mechanical failures due to manufacturing errors, making this the most expensive warship in Naval history for a whopping $13 billion.

This craft continues to give us problems, like corrosion and terrifying bugs.

Let us not forget the doomed$1.1 trillion F-35 aircraft project, a 17-year-old business venture locked down by Lockheed Martin. This craft continues to give us problems, like corrosion and terrifying bugs.

The companies that are “lucky” enough to hold these contracts continue to profit at the taxpayer’s expense. This argument is not directed against the need for private defense contractors. It’s mainly against the lack of market competition and the government’s monopolization of the security industry.

Anti-capitalists blame greed and a lack of regulation. Although they are wrong in their assertions, at least those cheeky government addicts admit there is a problem. But shouldn’t we expect more opposition from “conservative” leaders? I suppose there is always a convincing excuse for militarization when we live in constant fear.

The U.S. has spent more than $1.07 trillion on the War in Afghanistan since 2001, a total which does not include the negative economic impact. Of this total, $8.4 billion was spent on tackling the heroin industry in Afghanistan which resulted in nothing more than an increase of Afghan opium production. Defense dollars were also wasted on an unused building in Afghanistan, despite opposition from commanders on the project. The U.S. continues to support Afghan security forces, despite serious and credible allegations of human rights violations, including sexual assault against children.

The War in Iraq has cost the U.S. taxpayer more than $1.06 trillion. Estimated accumulative costs could reach as much as $6 trillion if you include medical costs and interest owed on the borrowed cash. These estimates cannot, of course, reflect the cost of lives lost due to the effects of war.  Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has recently admitted the War in Iraq was basically a mistake and has taken partial responsibility for it.

Investigating defense waste was obviously not a very popular activity at that time.

The day before September 11, 2001, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced $2.3 trillion in Pentagon funding could not be accounted for.  This became irrelevant to most once we were convinced we needed more defense funding to respond to the attacks.  Nobody knew the exact target or how much we would have to sacrifice for years to come.  Investigating defense waste was obviously not a very popular activity at that time. Consequently, debt and military waste continued to create significant vulnerabilities.

These bloated expenditures are often promoted as a necessity for peace, while military spending continues to increase without a peaceful end in sight.

In 1793 James Madison stated, “If a free people be a wise people also, they will not forget that the danger of surprise can never be so great, as when the advocates for the prerogative of war, can sheathe it in a symbol of peace.”

Our founders foretold of the dangers associated with engaging in warlike activity.  Prudence is necessary in matters of war, if Liberty is a priority.  Fraud, abuse, and frivolous spending have positioned us in a precarious situation.  How much longer are we going to neglect our conservative principles to feed this hyper-inflated leviathan we call defense?