Both former U.S. presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump had vowed to end America’s “endless wars” that cost the country trillions of dollars. Their promises included bringing home U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet both Obama and Trump failed to make good on their word.
Promising to prioritize diplomacy, Joe Biden okayed an aerial operation targeting eastern Syria 35 days into his presidency, and was called out on it by his own party.
The U.S.’s annual military spending tops $700 billion. This figure is bigger than the combined defense budget of the ten countries that follow the U.S., including both Russia and China. Ending the endless wars is only possible by bringing in a government that is capable of reining in the American Military-Industrial Complex.
In 1961, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower concluded his farewell speech with a warning about the growing power of the Complex, Eisenhower, a general who was NATO’s first commander in chief, also emphasized that the Complex would act according to its own interests.
Promising to put an end to endless wars, Trump had acknowledged, "There is a military-industrial complex in this country, they want constant war." Yet, he continued to pour money into the coffers of this Complex.
Every year, hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars go to the Complex. In order for the bucket called the “military budget” to be refilled, it needs to be emptied out every year. The Complex thus ensures its own survival through America’s endless wars. It produces all sorts of pretexts, theories and strategies in order to legitimize these wars. This is a whole sector all on its own. So-called defense and security-centric think tanks are paid handsomely every year by this sector.
Assuming the role of Global Police, the U.S. has close to 800 military bases across over 70 countries. The U.K., France and Russia have a total of 60 cross-border bases. While the U.S.’s biggest geopolitical rival China only has a single military base in the Horn of Africa’s Djibouti.
According to research conducted by author Nicolas J.S. Davies and Madea Banjamin, one of the founders of CODEPINK, a female-fronted civil society organization that aims to end the endless wars, the U.S. military and its allies have since 2001 used more than 326,000 bombs and missiles in many countries across the world, particularly in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen. Benjamin and Davies emphasize that the U.S. army is off bombing places every day without the public's knowledge. The authors also point out that secret bombings continued under both Trump and Biden, and that the United States has been waging a relentless air war in the Middle East for 20 years.
Benjamin and Davies both issued a caveat saying that Biden is continuing to use military force despite pledging to favor diplomacy, noting that “this is not what the campaign had promised or what people voted for.” Both also mentioned that Trump, who had promised to end the so-called “endless wars” kept secret data that pertained to airstrikes carried out during his term.
The authors stressed that instead of following in Trump’s footsteps, Biden must declassify Air Force briefings. In 2001 and 2002, the U.S. Congress temporarily granted the presidency the authority to use military force. Perturbed by the carte blanche, some Democratic and Republican politicians are asking for this authority to be reclaimed by Congress.
Discussions that were prompted by Biden authorizing the operation in Syria resulted in an initiative that is picking up momentum in Congress. It is stated that the White House also looks favorably on this initiative. In this context, Democrat Senator Tim Kaine and Republican Senator Todd Young drafted a bill.
In a statement, Kaine recalled that Congress has the responsibility to revoke old powers that are no longer required, apart from green-lighting new military actions. It is believed that the adoption of the bill will help put an end to the wars. According to several analysts, presidents will continue to exercise that privilege as Commander-in-Chief.
It’s no secret that the endless wars continue with bipartisan blessing. Let’s see if the U.S. Congress will be able to take on the Military Industrial Complex this time around?