I Apologize for Inaccurate Statistics on US Gov’t War Spending

US War Spending Statistics
I APOLOGIZE FOR INACCURATELY QUOTING HOW MUCH THE US GOVERNMENT SPENDS ON WAR. For several years, I have been using a statistic that is grossly understated.

I often say that the US spends over 200,000 dollars a minute on war.  Sadly, I did some research and had a bunch of my mathematician friends check my numbers, and we were devastated by what we found.  The actual numbers are at least 6 times worse than we thought.

The US currently spends over 1.2 million dollars a minute on militarism and war.

That’s 20,000 dollars every second.

… as the country goes bankrupt.

It’s time to re-imagine things, isn’t it?

ADVERTISEMENT

-------------

Here’s a good resource on how the numbers break down:

https://www.warresisters.org/sites/default/files/FY2012piechart-color.pdf

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”  – Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Shane Claiborne is a prominent author, speaker, activist, and founding member of the Simple Way.  He is one of the compilers of Common Prayer, a new resource to unite people in prayer and action. Shane is also helping develop a network called Friends Without Borders which creates opportunities for folks to come together and work together for justice from around the world.

Print Friendly

About the Author

Shane Claiborne

Shane ClaiborneShane Claiborne is a prominent author, speaker, activist, and founding member of the Simple Way. He is one of the compilers of Common Prayer, a new resource to unite people in prayer and action. Shane is also helping develop a network called Friends Without Borders which creates opportunities for folks to come together and work together for justice from around the world. His most recent book is Red Letter Revolution, which he co-authored with Tony Campolo.View all posts by Shane Claiborne →

  • http://bytheirstrangefruit.com StrngeFruit

    The video here is also a nice illustrative resource for war spending:  
    http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2012/01/02/tax-dollars-and-the-war

  • Drew

    Hi Shane,

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention; it shocked me as well.

    I wrote to my Congressman a few months ago to voice my dismay with him (as well as 83 other members of Congress, all Republicans, including Michelle Bachmann) for voting to completely cut off funding for the Food for Peace program.  The program costs about $1 billion a year and has fed three billion people in 150 countries.   His response?  “Just looking out for the taxpayer.”  Just me, but maybe it is more cost-effective (and Christian) to feed hundreds of millions a people for a billion dollars a year than to let them starve, potentially have them become our enemies, and then spend trillions on fighting wars against them?

    Unfortunately this is a prevalent attitude – blindly spend unlimited amounts on weapons and if cuts need to be made, cut anything that might result in a lesser need for those weapons.  Short-sighted to say the least, spirit of Satan to say the most.

  • Chris

    and all the while your children starve http://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/front_page/newsid_9694000/9694094.stm

  • http://twitter.com/nokoryous Kory Mereness

    Shane, one of the few things you’ve written that I disagree with is “It’s time to re-imagine things…” It’s just time to stop! Thanks for sharing this…I think (though it’s disturbing on the deepest level.) I can’t even fathom how anyone isn’t shocked by this number–especially those in the govt–I really wish you had this statistic all wrong.

    @Drew I think you make an excellent point that requires some wise foresight on our nation’s part, as well as some investment in people. It would do us good to build some bridges…which are indeed less expensive than bombs.

  • Doug

    Shouldn’t you be apologizing for the caricature of your own government Shane ?

    ‘The US currently spends over 1.2 million dollars per minute on militarism and war’.

    Have you ever considered that freedom isn’t free ?

    Why dont you balance that with some figures on eg North Korean military expenditure to oppress their own and if they could the South Koreans ? The US prevents that. Or why dont you balance with a military expenditure of the Arab world many of which would join the rally cry to kill as many Jews as they could and drive the Israelis into the sea ? The US prevents that.
    Why  dont you balance that expenditure with the freedom the US helped Europeans keep from Soviet / Marxist threat.

    And of course during King Solomon’s / David’s reign no doubt some critic would have objected tot he money they spent on military expenditure to hold the Philistines in check.

    Prior to WW2 there were those who objected to the UK’s rearmament in the face of Hitler as being unreasonable , militaristic and ‘unChristian’.

    If they had listened to those arguments then and the Nazis had won the price both economic and in human terms would have been much worse.

    In a spirit of concilliation Shane you need to stop seeing the world as so one dimensional and put some balance into your critique. You sit in safety in a democracy and from the comfort and safety of your armchair critique I believe very unfairly the very system who has helped free and keep free so many. You offer no solution to the Kim Il Jongs, Al-Quaedas, Hamas’ of this world other than gushy platitudes laughable to the former.

    Remember FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.

    Pay in blood or cash. Jesus paid in his blood for our spiritual freedom ( the only redeeming price).

    • Aaaaaaaaaargh

      Last I checked, there’s only one Saviour of the world…and it’s not America.

      • Doug

        Well as the prolific Christian author Philip Yancy wisely quipped in one of his books ‘Dont expect the kingdom of heaven to arrive on Air Force One’.

    • Drew

      Doug,

      I really expect you to have a more thoughtful, intelligent post than bumper sticker slogans.  I never once saw Shane argue that there should be no military budget, but rather, he is talking about the size of the military budget.  Do you honestly believe there is no waste in the military budget and that the government is absolutely competent in this area?

      • Doug

        Drew,
        But that was exactly my point, objectivity in comparison rather than just plucking figures from the deep blue sky, some kind of balanced comparison.

        Of course you are correct there must be waste and government incompetence in this area however Shane’s critique does not mention either.

        • Drew

          I think that almost 100% of us agree that we need to re-imagine how we spend funds on the military and how we use the military, and Shane was just trying to get that conversation started.  Maybe it would be helpful in future posts for Shane to talk about what we should stop spending money on that we currently spend money on, but that would be a much more in-depth discussion.

          The total cost for the Iraq/Afghanistan wars is somewhere in the ballpark of $4 trillion.  The approach of invading countries and staying there for ten years with hundreds of thousands of troops is unaffordable and unsustainable.  You also have to look at the opportunity cost; what else could we have done with even just half of that money?

          • Doug

            Drew thanks for your considered reply, Im with you on everything in 1st paragraph.
             
            Re the cost – well difficult one , see http://www.iags.org/costof911.html , the Institute for the Analysis of Global security put the cost of the 911 attack at $2 trillion, with their own ‘fall of global markets’ cost as uncalculable.
             
            So if Al-Quaeda had been allowed to remain, organise and train in Afghanistan and carried out a similiar ‘spectacular’ they could have cost the same amount of money, not to mention the incalculable cost of lives lost.
             
            Consideration should also be given to the potential economic consequences alone should Al-quaeda have been able to develop WMD within the safe sanctuary of Taliban ruled Afghanistan. What would be the cost of a medium to major nerve gas release eg Sarin in London, LA, NY or Bonn ? Surely as Christians we have a duty to prevent that and protect the innocent in those locations?
             
            You might be correct I grant you maybe alternative methods would have to be evaluated but what exactly ? Sanctions ? Notoriously ineffective, witness Iraq and South Africa.
             
            Plus we’ve liberated Iraq and Afghanistan from two of the most tyrannical regimes on earth, with Iraq now no longer able to march on Israel and women in Afghanistan now facing a better future.
             
            Time will tell.

          • Drew

            That cost is not comparing apples to apples, since the cost you use is closer to $200 billion, with $1.8 trillion calculated as a stock market loss.  Since the U.S. was already in recession, it would be interesting to see how much of that 1.8 trillion if any was due to recession, and furthermore, how much of that loss was recovered in future stock market gains.  In any case, I’m sure the $4 trillion number I used has some flaws as well.

            I don’t want to get into a specific discussion about war; pretty broad topic.  I will just pivot back to Shane’s point, and say that as a Christian, I am always loathe to support the use of force, and as an American, I think we can spend less and be just as safe.

    • http://jesusjusticeandjargon.blogspot.com/ Schuyler Stallcup

      So when Shane traveled to Iraq at the beginning of the Shock and Awe Bombing, in order to be in solidarity and share the borderless Love of Jesus Christ with the Iraqi people he was in your opinion sitting in the “comfort and safety of [his] armchair?” 

      Shane has offered a solution: nonviolence and enemy love… But almost everyone thought our Savior was idealistic when He first suggested this too.

      I would highly suggest you read Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way by Walter Wink. And I will pray that you will take Paul’s words literally:

      “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

      • Doug

        Okay next time the Arabs launch a full scale invasion of Israel you can report on Shane handing out flowers and tracts to the Arab tank commanders or likewise if the North Koreans try anything stupid. Similarly I havent heard of Shane’s latest speaking tour in Gaza at the Hamas rallies telling them they’ve got it all wrong. If he survives that I’ll no doubt hear about his human shield activities at the Hamas rocket firing range.

        So Shane goes off as a human shield ( presumably) to defend Saddam’s regime from harm. This was the regime reported by Amnesty International as one of the most oppresive on the planet ? Did he go to Halabja in Iraq to protect the Kurds from nerve gas bombing from the aforementioned regime ? ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halabja_poison_gas_attack)

        No he went to shield the regime that dropped nerve gas on those Kurds…mmm.. very Christian IMHO.

        ‘Almost everyone thought our Saviour was idealistic when he suggested it first.’ I believe the Lord was not talking about warfare rather interpersonal relationships and it is IMHO taking the verses out of context.

        • http://jesusjusticeandjargon.blogspot.com/ Schuyler Stallcup

          Actually, if you had read about Shane’s experience in Iraq you would know that he was explicit in that he did not go as a human shield, but to serve as an ambassador for Christ to the people of Iraq and to join in community and solidarity with the people and hundreds of thousands of Christians in Iraq as they were being bombed by U.S. and NATO forces. 

          Please read his Iraq Journal so that you will understand why he went and the things he experienced. 

          And Jesus did not say “love your enemies…unless they are attacking the country in which you live.” Jesus did not say “turn the other cheek…unless you are in the military.” And Jesus did not say, “Don’t react violently against the one who is evil…except in regards to war.” 

          Jesus’ teachings are not popular and are considered ineffective and illogical by most, which isn’t true. But even if they were, I would still follow them because I believe that I am a mere man who knows nothing of the wisdom of God and I just want to be faithful to Him. To trust in Christ is to trust in his ways even when the make no sense to us. We cannot edit the message of Jesus so that it makes “more sense” or is easier for us to swallow. Narrow is the road, my brother. We must trust the Gospel of Enemy Love, for without enemy love we would not have been saved. We cannot compromise it one inch.

          You are in my prayers tonight, friend. 

        • http://jesusjusticeandjargon.blogspot.com/ Schuyler Stallcup

          Actually, if you had read about Shane’s experience in Iraq you would know that he was explicit in that he did not go as a human shield, but to serve as an ambassador for Christ to the people of Iraq and to join in community and solidarity with the people and hundreds of thousands of Christians in Iraq as they were being bombed by U.S. and NATO forces. 

          Please read his Iraq Journal so that you will understand why he went and the things he experienced. 

          And Jesus did not say “love your enemies…unless they are attacking the country in which you live.” Jesus did not say “turn the other cheek…unless you are in the military.” And Jesus did not say, “Don’t react violently against the one who is evil…except in regards to war.” 

          Jesus’ teachings are not popular and are considered ineffective and illogical by most, which isn’t true. But even if they were, I would still follow them because I believe that I am a mere man who knows nothing of the wisdom of God and I just want to be faithful to Him. To trust in Christ is to trust in his ways even when the make no sense to us. We cannot edit the message of Jesus so that it makes “more sense” or is easier for us to swallow. Narrow is the road, my brother. We must trust the Gospel of Enemy Love, for without enemy love we would not have been saved. We cannot compromise it one inch.

          You are in my prayers tonight, friend. 

    • http://mikesnow.org/ Michael Snwo

       Of course, freedom is not free.  Christ paid for our freedom with his blood.
      Christians have been paying for faithfulness with their blood ever since. Anyone who is in Christ is truly free no matter in which country he abides. We can certainly be thankful for the country in which we abide, but that should not blind us to faithfulness.
      http://www.amazon.com/Christian-Pacifism-Fruit-Narrow-ebook/dp/B005RIKH62/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329210204&sr=8-1

    • http://www.fivedills.com Greg Dill

      What freedom are you talking about? The US is enslaved by constant preparation for war, conflict, and the buildup of arms. The US is enslaved by fear. The US is enslaved by violence. The US is enslaved by greed. And, most of all, the US is enslaved by money and oil. The only freedom that I know of is found in Jesus Christ, and even that wasn’t free.

  • Kurtis

    Great article Shane, it got me to thinking how much does my Canadian government spend on its Military?? To the best of my findings its 8 cents on every dollar it spends.. 

  • Edngilley

    but dont we get a multi-war discount?

  • Bob

    ~ Gee, if that’s what the U.S. ‘invests’ toward our protection, imagine what countries like China, North Korea, Iran, Sudan, etc. – and groups like Al Qaeda, Hamas, Indian Mujahideen, etc. – must be spending toward America’s destruction and Israel’s annihilation… per capita of course.

    • Drew

      Hey Bob,

      No need to speculate.  2011 Military Spending.

      U.S.  687  Billion   $2141 per capita
      China  114 Billion   $74 per capita
      India (entire country)  35 billion  $30 per capita
      Iran  7 Billion  not given per capita
      Sudan  2 Billion  not given per capita

      Let me know if you need more information.

×

TRENDING: Could Your Evangelical Church be Called a Cult? >>

Read previous post:
Cussing Christians: Why I’m with Mark Driscoll on this One

Mark Driscoll gets this one right. Seriously. In my opinion, we ought to have the freedom to use language contextually...

Close