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The Petagon. CC/gregwest98

The explosion of U.S. federal debt in the 21st century greatly exceeds that of the preceding decades, thanks in part to simultaneous major NATO wars and occupations, funding and arming of “allies’ wars,” the “Global War on Terror” (GWOT) and the so-called Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) off-budget war fund.

Military Spending: U.S. military spending in the 1990s consumed approximately $4 trillion, despite Operation Desert Storm and the subsequently enforced “no-fly zone” against Iraq, and the bombing of Serbia in that decade; it was declining well below $400 billion/year by the end of the 20th century. From 2001-2011, with major NATO regime-change wars and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and “anti-terror” deployments of soldiers and marines to hundreds of bases around the world, and with the device of funding Overseas Contingency Operations off the Congressional defense budget, U.S. military spending consumed roughly $6.5 trillion. In the 2012-2022 period, wars and/or occupations in Libya and Syria were added to Afghanistan and Iraq and all the other “anti-terror operations,” and the OCO off-budget was heavily used and abused. Military spending in those 11 years consumed $8-9 trillion—making $15 trillion in the 21st century thus far, with OCO contributing $2 trillion.

For fiscal years 2023 and 2024, with Ukraine, now Israel, and the anti-China buildup, military spending for just these two is heading for $1.8-1.9 trillion.

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