The following interview was originally published at International Man.
Nick Giambruno: Doug, I know you’ve been thinking about how the Greater Depression will unfold. It’s no secret the government has created the biggest credit bubble in history through endless money printing—euphemistically called QE—and now “NIRP” (negative interest rates). But I understand you’ve had a different “bubble” on your mind lately…
Doug Casey: Yes. I’ve been thinking about the gigantic bubble in military spending in the U.S. And how it’s one of the worst things that can happen, and at the absolute worst time. The U.S. Government is bankrupt, we’re about to go into the trailing edge of a monumental economic hurricane, and both of the presidential candidates are talking about vastly increasing military spending.
From an economic point of view, money spent on the military is almost totally wasted. It’s worse than money spent to dig holes during the day and then fill them in again at night—at least that does no actual damage. The “product” of the military is killing people and destroying property. And the amount of money the U.S. spends is provocative to other powers, who feel they have to counter with their own spending. Arms races never end well.
I’m going to say some unflattering things about the military, and realize it will probably shock most Americans to hear them. Americans still have a high regard for the military—far too much. They see it as one of the few American institutions that still “works.” They see it as something defending them from evil outside the borders of the “homeland”—which, by the way, is a very recently coined term. But the military is actually just another government bureaucracy, like the Post Office. Albeit much more heavily armed.
Most people are unaware how dangerous the U.S. military has become to both the average American and the concept of America. The minions of the Pentagon aren’t protecting Americans. They’re actively endangering them, and what the country has always stood for. The situation has gotten totally out of control. Most obviously from a financial viewpoint.
The U.S. currently spends more on “defense” than the next seven governments combined… At one point recently, it was more than the rest of the world combined. But who really knows, since Pentagon accounting is so inaccurate and corrupt?
Nick Giambruno: The 2015 budget was $600 billion. More than three times what China spends.
Doug Casey: Well, again, nobody knows how big the Pentagon’s, or China’s, or Russia’s, or whoever’s, budgets really are. That’s just the “official” number, which doesn’t include quasi-military spending outside of the Department of Defense. Here, I’m thinking of Homeland Security, “black ops” slush funds, the Department of Energy where a lot of nuclear spending goes, NASA, CIA, and dozens of other ratholes that disguise the real budget. U.S. military spending could easily be over the $1 trillion mark. It’s clear the Pentagon itself doesn’t know.
In fact, nobody seems to know how much money is being spent or where it goes. I remember Rumsfeld once remarking, years ago, that they couldn’t find $2 trillion—but there was never a scandal, or even an attempt to find it. The news cycle just went on to the Kardashians or whatever. Now, according to the Office of the Inspector General, at least $6.5 trillion can’t be accounted for. And probably never will be. This is a truly unbelievable number. How dysfunctional has the system become that numbers like that can be dropped with impunity? World War 2 was only supposed to have cost $341 billion 1945 dollars…
Even though the law requires annual audits of all federal agencies, the Pentagon never complies. They just tell Congress that the books are such a mess, they can’t give accurate numbers. No matter; nobody is shutting down the Pentagon. The Pentagon—which is to say the military-industrial complex—is at once so sacrosanct, so gigantic, and so corrupt that nobody dares get to the bottom of it.
Nick Giambruno: Wow, it’s hard to imagine how many pockets that $6.5 trillion has lined around the Beltway…
Doug Casey: Indeed. It makes the TARP bailouts, which came in at around $700 billion, seem trivial in comparison. And nobody knows where that money went, either. It’s funny when you think of the saying attributed to Senator Everett Dirksen in the mid-60s: “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon, you’re talking real money.” We’re up to trillions now. Obama might soon be asking his science officer what comes after a trillion.
And this at a time when interest rates are at record lows, and every segment of society is carrying record high levels of debt. Frankly, something has to give… much higher interest rates, much higher taxes, much higher inflation, or perhaps a collapse of the system itself. Probably all of them together. When interest rates go back up to normal historic levels, that alone will collapse the structure.
It’s bad news all around… all this spending on an organization with the primary mission of blowing things up. The military has become a giant golden hammer looking for a nail. It used to be that Congress actually had to declare a war. Starting with the Korean conflict, however, the president found he could commit the country not to just sport wars, like we’ve always had in Central America, but to a major war. In fact, now the U.S. is in a constant state of undeclared war—Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and a dozen other Third World countries that you rarely hear about. Plus, playing chicken with the Chinese, the Russians, and the Iranians.
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