Eli5: Why does the US spend so much money on military?

548 views

[ad_1]

Eli5: Why does the US spend so much money on military?

In:
[ad_2]

[deleted]

I’m really not qualified to answer this question, but this is my take.

As a superpower with a lot of resources, the us is capable of a lot if influence. Some of that influence comes in the form of bases in remote areas of the world, which remain far longer than the original propose. They get entrenched in the local area, exercise influence with local leaders. There is a perceived diplomatic and strategic benefit in the deployment of personnel around the world.

Additionally, there are powerful defence contractors who strategically enjoy workers in Congressional districts so that their projects can’t be discontinued without some congressional leaders losing votes (loss of jobs, etc). The prototypical example for this is the F22 raptor (not saying it’s a bad program, just commenting about the arrangement with Northrop Grumman and Lockheed) This arrangement is known as the military industrial complex, and it has upward pressure on military spending.

It’s because we’re maintaining our NAVY. The most powerful navy ever amassed. Our navy patrols the seas and has a presence in over 100 ports. Those ports enforce the Dollar/Oil standard, meaning all around the world oil is only traded in dollars thus being the backbone of our economic power.

Two countries tried to establish their own currencies to trade oil in. Can you guess which ones?

Iraq under Saddam Hussein and Libya under Gaddafi.

Coincidence?

Traditionally, the US did not have a standing army. When a war happened, they would train and equip regiments, and when the war ended, they would be disbanded – in peacetime it was just a rump of officers and generals. The idea was that the US could be defended by a navy.

This changed with world war 2, where the US spent an incredible amount of money and built up a large army. After the war, disarmament was slow, since Germany and Japan had to be occupied. And then the Korean war happened – which forced the US to invest even more money into the military and maintain a large army. And this entire situation transitioned into the cold war, where the US saw it necessary to keep a large military presence abroad in order to prevent something like Korea to happen again. Basically, the US was never able to take the foot off the gas in terms of military spending. And this had an impact on US industries:

During world war 2, most of the arms were produced by civilian companies converted to temporary military use. But over the years, many of the involved companies started to specialize more and more on military contracts. So where a Sherman tank was made in a car factory, a Patton tank was made in a tank factory, using tools which could not just switch back to making cars. All this led to the so called “military-industrial complex”, where a bunch of hugely influential companies are completely dependent on government contracts, and therefore will use their influence to keep spending high. On top of that, other nations reacted to the US military buildup with heavy spending of their own, such as the Soviet Union building a large navy and of course nuclear weapons.

The US was simply never willing or able to back out of this, even after the end of the cold war.

To keep the peace.

I’m in no way pro-military, but the US put itself in a situation where it needs to spend tons on military otherwise many places in the world would erupt into war. 2 examples:

Why doesn’t China invade Taiwan? Because the US Navy is protecting it and would intervene.

Why doesn’t North Korea invade South Korea? Because South Korea is a US ally and the US would intervene.

The US is actually [obliged to protect 67 countries](http://mentalfloss.com/article/65816/67-countries-us-obliged-go-war). In some cases this agreement is mutual (NATO), but not all of them. Iceland, for example, has no standing military and has a defense treaty with the US.

Questions about the US are generally better in r/askanamerican.