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Opinion |  Let’s cut our ridiculous defense budget

Mr. Biden could also save large sums of money on nuclear weapons. In the coming years, the military plans to develop and purchase more than 600 new nuclear missiles at a potential cost of over $ 100 billion. But as Elisabeth Eaves detailed in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, these missiles are not only extremely expensive. They are dangerous. Because they are designed to fire while enemy missiles are still in the air, former Secretary of Defense William Perry warns they “could start an accidental nuclear war.” Mr. Perry proposed phasing out US land-based nuclear weapons and relying on a more secure air and sea deterrent. If Mr Biden followed Mr Perry’s advice, he could save more than enough money to prepare vaccines against the 50 to 100 viruses most likely to cause the next pandemic.

Supporters of the gigantic US defense budget say it generates jobs. But academic studies show it has so far done less efficiently than government investments in education, clean energy, transportation and health care. Defense hawks also insist that without increased spending, the United States will lose its military primacy. In 2018, the Trump administration warned that “America’s competitive military advantage is eroding,” particularly over China and Russia. During his confirmation hearing, Biden’s Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called China a “pace challenge for our department.”

Opinion debate
What should the Biden administration prioritize?

  • Nicolas kristof, Opinion columnist, writes that “Biden’s proposal to establish a national pre-K and child care system would be a huge step forward for children and for working parents.”
  • The Editorial Board argues that the president should approach a tax system where “most employees pay their fair share while many business owners engage in blatant fraud at state expense.”
  • Veronica escobar, a Democrat who represents El Paso, writes that “the real crisis is not at the border but outside, and that until we tackle this crisis, this flow of vulnerable people seeking help at our door will not stop. ”
  • Gail collins, Opinion columnist, has a few questions on gun violence: “First, what about gun control bills? The other is, what is filibuster? Is all that Republicans can do?

China, however, spends less than a third more on defense than the United States and has less than a tenth as many nuclear weapons. The Chinese military might indeed be a match for the United States in conflicts near China’s coast, but globally China poses a much greater economic challenge. To cope, the United States must invest heavily in education and emerging technologies – the very investments that military spending will sooner or later crowd out. The two superpowers are also in ideological competition, and the United States severely undermines the appeal of its democratic system when, in the midst of a pandemic, the dictatorship in China proves better able to keep its citizens alive.

One explanation for Mr. Biden’s reluctance lies in Dwight Eisenhower’s warning about the “unwarranted influence” that the American “military-industrial complex” could accumulate in “the governing councils”. This influence is particularly intense in Congress, where many districts depend on military spending and lawmakers feel the brunt of the more than $ 100 million a year the defense industry spends on lobbying.

But dollars don’t have to be fate. Over the past decade, popular rebellions have blunted the hold other powerful industries hold within the Democratic Party. In the wake of Occupy, Black Lives Matter and the populist political campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the days when a Democratic president could easily appoint a Goldman Sachs treasury secretary seem to be over. When it comes to defense contractors, however, there hasn’t been a similar transformation. So Mr. Biden, with minimal controversy, appointed a Secretary of Defense, General Austin, who served on the board of directors of Raytheon Technologies.

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