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Does a $778 Billion Defense Budget Really Buy Strength—or Just the Illusion of it?

Two veterans make the case for investing at home and building American strength from the inside-out.

After a brief period of decreasing defense budgets, U.S. military spending is now in a clear growth pattern. The Pentagon budget has grown for five consecutive years and is approaching the record high set in 2011. The outlays are commonly justified by the country’s need to protect its interests by projecting strength. But military strength isn’t the only form of strength, said writers and veterans Dick Price and Bill Astores in a recent Roundtable discussion about defense spending.

“China is projecting strength by [also] building bridges and schools,” said Vietnam veteran and Hollywood Progressive editor Dick Price. Likewise, he argued, the U.S. can bolster its image by investing in infrastructure and jobs—and ceasing to outsource its industries to China.  

“I look at our country and I look at the state of our education system,” adds writer and former Lieutenant General Bill Astore. “We spend 13 times as much on weapons and war as we spend on education. What is more important than the education of our children, so that we have a strong democracy? We should be spending a lot more on our classrooms instead of having teachers scrambling for dollar bills.”

As things currently stand, the growing military budget goes unchallenged in Congress. The Pentagon budget tends to pass with a supermajority, and few members of Congress, Democrat or Republican, question the billowing expenses. 

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“What we need is a Congress that actually does its job,” Astore says. That includes ending Authorizations for the Use of Military Force. “If we declare war, it should be a Congressional declaration of war in the name of the American people.” 

Watch the full discussion: