Skip to Main Content

Goodman: America's Bloated Military Spending Hurts U.S. Mission

Melvin Goodman

Melvin Goodman

Melvin Goodman has watched the growth of America’s military industrial complex from both inside and outside the federal government – as an intelligence analyst at the CIA and State Department in the 70s and 80s and more recently as the director of the National Security Project at the Center for International Policy.

Now, in his sixth book on international security issues, he breaks down America’s military and intelligence failures stretching back to the Eisenhower administration. In "National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism", Goodman argues that excessive military spending is damaging America’s mission both at home and abroad, and he makes an authoritative case on how to fix it.

POGO: In your words, American military spending today is excessive. Is there a specific time or time period that spending went from responsible to excessive?

Goodman: Excessive military spending began in the 1980s in the first year of the Reagan Administration. Although there already were signs of a Soviet decline, President Reagan orchestrated unprecedented peacetime increases in military spending. CIA Director William Casey and deputy director Robert Gates distorted US intelligence on the Soviet Union to justify the increases.

POGO: Of the examples of excessive spending and/or improper practices cited in your book, what is the most important for the American public to learn about?

 See POGO's Summer Reading List

Goodman: The American public must understand that actual defense spending is close to double the budget figures reported in the media. The official military budget does not include the hundreds of millions of dollars for war supplementals (Iraq and Afghanistan); nuclear defense and safety (Department of Energy); military intelligence (the CIA and various collection agencies such as NSA); and military disability (Veteran's Administration).

POGO: How does the cost of the military affect the day to day lives of Americans?

Goodman: Excessive military spending has made it far more difficult to fund domestic requirements that include education, infrastructure, and social welfare. President Eisenhower warned about this in his "cross of iron" speech more than 50 years ago.

POGO: What are the practical ways that the American military can be reformed?

Goodman: Significant military reform would include extensive cuts in military aid, closing overseas military bases, serious nuclear disarmament, cutbacks in such Cold War military platforms as aircraft carriers, fighter aircraft, and nuclear submarines. Military reform must include the demilitarization of the intelligence community and national security policy.

POGO: What changes, for good or for bad, do you think will be seen in the American military system in the next 50 years?

Goodman: President Obama's policies toward Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria suggest an awareness of the need to reduce military engagement and military deployment and to pursue strategic disarmament with Russia. He will try to continue to make these reductions, but will encounter resistance from the military-industrial-congressional-intelligence complex. It will become a serious test of the "audacity of hope."

By: Jana Persky
Intern, POGO

Photograph of Jana Persky Jana Persky is an intern for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: National Security

Related Content: Defense, Interviews

Authors: Jana Persky

Submitted by Anonymous at: August 13, 2013
Submitted by Bullet at: August 11, 2013
We need a law that requires military spending reduced by cutting back contract dollars to weapons providers in a proportion to moneys (campaign contributions) and bribes made to elected officials
Submitted by Billyboy at: August 10, 2013
That sounds like a winner to me. Feed and cloth the poor and put the pentagon on charity.
Submitted by Change? at: August 10, 2013
One of the highest spending lobby (if not the highest) is the defense industry. Money talks. Voters need to be informed and engaged including through mainstream media. Time to get the word out.
Submitted by CXV at: August 8, 2013
This person is like the blind men and the elephant only seeing one aspect of a bigger problem. Our allies do depend on the US to fund and aid projects they won't.
Submitted by wick at: August 6, 2013
Lets feed and cloth our poor....and put the pentagon on charity! Ha what a pipe dream ay?

Leave A Comment

Enter this word: Change

Related Posts

Browse POGOBlog by Topic

POGO on Facebook

POGOBlog Contributors

See All Blog Contributors

Latest Podcast

Podcast; Social Media, Internet Provides Opportunities, Challenges for Lawmakers

The Congressional Management Foundation offers the Gold Mouse Awards annually to members of Congress who make the most of the opportunity the digital world offers them. POGO spoke with members of Rep. Mike Honda's communications team about their award.