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National Intelligence Estimate on the United States

The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) has been in the news recently with members of Congress complaining publicly about the Bush administration’s 6 month delay in submitting an NIE (see Deb’s recent post and Silverstein in Harper’s).

Now Chalmers Johnson (author and emeritus professor in political science at UC San Diego and contributor to the American Empire Project) has written a provocative article for Harpers Magazine (01/17/07) giving an NIE for the US (Reprinted on the Information Clearinghouse site). In it, he gives an historical wrap-up of the US military-industrial complex and tells of the danger to both the US and the entire world when military Keynesianism is combined with the Unitary Presidency.

The imperial project is expensive. The flow of the nation’s wealth – from taxpayers and (increasingly) foreign lenders through the government to military contractors and (decreasingly) back to the taxpayers – has created a form of “military Keynesianism,” in which the domestic economy requires sustained military ambition in order to avoid recession or collapse.


To understand the real weight of military Keynesianism in the American economy today, however, one must approach official defense statistics with great care. The “defense” budget of the United States – that is, the reported budget of the Department of Defense – does not include: the Department of Energy’s spend¬ing on nuclear weapons ($16.4 billion slated for fiscal 2006), the Department of Homeland Security’s outlays for the actual “defense” of the United States ($41 billion), or the Depart¬ment of Veterans Affairs’ responsibilities for the lifetime care of the seriously wounded ($68 billion). Nor does it include the billions of dol¬lars the Department of State spends each year to finance foreign arms sales and militarily re¬lated development or the Treasury Depart¬ment’s payments of pensions to military re¬tirees and widows and their families (an amount not fully disclosed by official statistics). Still to be added are interest payments by the Treasury to cover past debt-financed defense outlays. The economist Robert Higgs estimates that in 2002 such interest payments amounted to $138.7 billion.

[Thanks Information Clearinghouse!]

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