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The War Party Wants a New Cold War, and the Money that Comes with It
By Ryan McMaken


February 14, 2022

In perhaps the most predictable column of the year, the Wall Street Journal this week featured a column by Walter Russell Mead declaring it’s “Time to Increase Defense Spending.”

Using the Beijing Olympics and the potential Ukraine War to push for funneling ever more taxpayer dollars into military spending, Mead outlines how military spending ought to be raised to match the sort of spending not seen since the hot days of the Cold War.

Mead claims that “The world has changed, and American policy must change with it.” The presumption here is that the status quo is one of declining military spending in which Americans have embraced some sort of isolationist foreign policy. But the reality doesn’t reflect that claim at all. The status quo is really one of very high levels of military spending, and even outright growth in most years. This sort of gaslighting my military hawks is right up there with leftwing attempts to portray the modern economy as one of unregulated laissez-faire.


Rather, according to estimates from the White House’s office of management and budget, military spending is set to reach a post-World War II high in 2022, rising to more than $1.1 trillion. That includes $770 billion spent on the Pentagon plus nuclear arms and related spending. Also included is current spending on veterans. Keeping veteran spending apart from defense spending is a convenient and sneaky political fiction, but veterans spending is just deferred spending for past active duty members—necessary to attract and retain personnel. And finally, we have the “defense” portion of the interest of the debt, estimated to be about 20 percent of total interest spending. Taking all this together, we find military spending has increased 13 years out of the last twenty, and is now at or near the highest levels of spending seen since the Second World War.

This, not surprisingly, is not enough for Mead who would like to see military spending much closer to the Cold War average of 7 percent of GDP, up from today’s spending of a little less than 4 percent. To get this average back up would require at least an extra $300 billion in spending, possibly even requiring spending levels not seen since the bad old days of the Vietnam War. In those days, of course, the US was busy spending enormous amounts of taxpayer wealth on a losing war that cost tens of thousands of American lives. The spending was so enormous that the US regime was driven to breaking the dollar’s last link to gold and subjecting ordinary Americans to years of price controls, inflation, and other forms of economic crisis.

But none of that will dissuade hawks like Mead who pound the drum incessantly for more military spending. Note also that Mead uses the “spending as a percentage of GDP” metric which is a favorite metric of military hawks. They use this metric because as the US economy has become more productive, wealthy, and generally larger, the US has been able to maintain sky-high military spending levels without growing the amount of spending in relation to GDP. The use of this metric allows hawks to create the false impression that military spending is somehow going down, and that the US is being taken over by peaceniks. In reality, spending levels remain very high—it’s just that the larger economy has been robust.

Yet, even if we use this metric—and then compare it to other states with large militaries—we find that Mead’s narrative doesn’t quite add up. These numbers in no way suggest that the US regime is being eclipsed by rivals in terms of military spending.


For example, according to the World Bank, China—with a GDP comparable to that of the US—has military spending amounting to about 1.7 percent of GDP (as of 2020). Meanwhile, the total was at 3.7 percent of GDP in the United States. Russian military spending rose to 4.2 percent of GDP in 2020, but that’s based on a GDP total that’s a small fraction of the US’s GDP. Specifically, the Russian economy is less than one-tenth the size of the US economy.

Thus, when we look at actual military spending, we find the disconnect to be quite clear.

According to the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database, in 2020 total Chinese military spending totaled approximately $245 billion in 2019 dollars. In Russia, the total was $66 billion. In the US, the total—which in the SIPRI database excludes veterans spending and interest—amounted to $766 billion in 2020.


In other words, total military spending by these presumed rivals amounts to mere fractions of total spending in the US. Moreover, as China scholar Michael Beckley has noted, the US benefits from pre-existing military capital—think military know-how and productive capability—built up over decades. Even if the US and China (or Russia) were spending comparable amounts on military capability right now, this would demonstrate any sort of actual military superiority in real terms.

But, as usual, Mead’s strategy is to claim that financial prudence is in fact imprudence with the usual refrain of “you can’t afford to not spend boatloads of extra money!” This claim is premised on the new domino theory being offered by anti-Russia hawks today. This theory posits that if the US does not start wars with every country that pushed back against US hegemony—i.e., Iran or Russia—then China will see this “weakness” and start conquering countless nations within its own periphery.

The old cold warriors were telling us this back in 1965 also, insisting that a loss in Vietnam would place all the world under the Communist boot. Needless to say, that didn’t happen, and it turned out Vietnam had nothing to do with American national security.

But none of this will convince the usual hawks—for example the Heritage Foundation—that there’s ever enough military spending.

Prudence, however, suggests the US should be going in the opposite direction. At its most belligerent, the US regime should be adopting a doctrine of restraint—focusing on naval defense and cutting back troop deployments—while changing its nuclear posture to one that is less costly and more defensive.

The ideal solution is far more radically anti-interventionist than that, but a good start would be eliminating hundreds of nuclear warheads and freezing military spending indefinitely. After all, the US’s deterrent second-strike capability does not at all depend on keeping an arsenal of thousands of warheads, as many hawks insist. And geography today continues to favor US conventional defense, just as it always has.

Unfortunately, we’re a long way from a change toward much more sane policy, but at the very least we must reject the latest opportunistic calls for a new cold war and trillions more taxpayer dollars burned in the name of “defense.”

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.

The Best of Ryan McMaken

Ryan W. McMaken is the editor of Mises Daily and The Austrian. Send him mail.
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“The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.

Ernest Hemingway

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We Are Not Useful Idiots!
By David Stockman

David Stockman's Contra Corner

February 18, 2022

Honest injun. We’re not useful idiots here at Contra Corner!

We do think, however, that the entire Ukrainian crisis is a Washington-confected con job. And we came to that conclusion without relying on a single scrap of information peddled by Russki propagandists appearing on Strategic Culture Foundation or Zero Hedge.

Actually, we thought it up all by our lonesome! Well, we’ll grant we did have a fair amount of help from Google, which insofar as we know works for the CIA, not the Russian SVR (foreign intelligence service).

In any event, at the very center of the crisis is the Washington claim that the rule of law and the sanctity of sovereign borders are on the line in Ukraine and that, therefore, Russia must not be allowed to encroach a single inch into sacrosanct Ukrainian territory.

That is to say, it is not a matter of America’s national security interest in the precise Ukrainian geography, which happens to lie cheek-by-jowl on Russia’s border, but the very governance of the entire planet: Conform to the “rule of law” as articulated by Washington or get sanctioned, outlawed, pariah-ed, and even invaded, if worst comes to worst.

We hear this refrain repeatedly from Secy Blinkey and national security advisor Snake Sullivan. But we find ourselves doubled over with laughter each time, knowing practically by heart the list of coups, regime change plots, invasions and occupations Washington has foisted upon other sovereign nations over the last 70 years.

For want of doubt, however, we recently Googled in pursuit of the exact list and came up with a systematic study by a young scholar named Lindsey A. O’Rourke. Here’s her summary conclusion:

READWe Are Not Useful Idiots! - LewRockwell LewRockwell.com

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Today the World Changed
By Paul Craig Roberts


February 22, 2022


I listened to Putin’s address to the Russian people, indeed, to the entire world, following his meeting with the Security Council.  He expressed his sadness that negotiating with the West has taught him complete distrust of Washington, and Putin made it clear that Russia would be prepared for the war that Washington is intent to bring to Russia. 

Putin said that for 8 years he had tried to bring peace to the Ukraine situation in a way that would keep the breakaway republics as part of Ukraine, but had been frustrated by Washington. Consequently, he has no alternative but to announce Russia’s recognition of the two republics, something he says should have been done years ago.  He signed mutual aid treaties with both republics. 

Andrei Martyanov provides in Russian and in English translation Moscow’s demand to Ukraine:

Президент подчеркнул, что Москва требует от киевских властей “незамедлительно прекратить боевые действия, <…> в противном случае, вся ответственность за возможное продолжение кровопролития будет целиком и полностью на совести правящего на территории Украины режима”.


Translation: Moscow demands from Kiev to immediately stop all hostilities, otherwise all responsibility for possible continuation of the bloodshed will be fully on the consciousness of the regime ruling in Ukraine.

Russian armed forces have been issued orders to ensure provision of peace on the territory of the Independent Republics 

Of course, this will be described by the presstitutes as a Russian invasion, and the fool in the White House will highlight US impotence by imposing sanctions.

From this time forward, provocations of Russia will become increasingly dangerous. 

The Best of Paul Craig Roberts

Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, has been reporting shocking cases of prosecutorial abuse for two decades. A new edition of his book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how americans lost the protection of law, has been released by Random House. Visit his website.

Copyright © Paul Craig Roberts


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Amid the media’s 24/7 UKRAINE UPDATES, perhaps some enterprising journalist could write an article explaining how our esteem for that country’s borders benefits a single American — other than President Joe Biden.

Our own border has become a transmission belt for the third world, bringing in rapists, murderers, future welfare recipients and left-wing activists. The Democratic Party’s brilliant policy of defunding the police and emptying the prisons has, oddly enough, led to a breathtaking surge in violent crime. Our schools have been taken over by lunatics who teach white kids that they are evil — and probably transsexual. Inflation has hit a 40-year high.

U.S. media: Whither Ukraine?

Midterms must be coming!

In 2020, Democratic data scientist David Shor advised his party: “Talk about the issues [voters] are with us on, and try really hard not to talk about the issues where we disagree. Which, in practice, means not talking about immigration.” (Emphasis mine.) After the election, he said that the main way the media’s COVID hysteria hurt Donald Trump was by preventing anyone from “talking about Hunter Biden or immigration.”

Evidently, the only issue where voters don’t vehemently disagree with Democrats this year is the precise border of a country they’d never given a moment’s thought to until five minutes ago.

What Republicans should be doing: talking about the issues Democrats are trying to avoid.

What Republicans are doing: talking about Ukraine.

Whenever you see any media talking about Ukraine, your Pavlovian response should be, Oh, I see. They don’t want me to think about immigration or crime.

It’s not only the Democrats drawing benefits from the media’s sudden Ukraine obsession. There’s also the military-industrial complex.

President Dwight Eisenhower led Allied troops in World War II, but in his farewell address from the White House, he warned of the “unwarranted influence” on the government by “the military-industrial complex.” In the 60 years since, these bloodsuckers have been bleeding our country dry, solely to make themselves rich.

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  • JakeHolman changed the title to TRUMPISM IN EUROPE AND UKRAINE WAR

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