How much does it cost the United States to maintain its global empire and domestic security state? The following table summarizes defense-related costs in the US federal budget since 2003 plus supplemental spending (OCO=Overseas Contingency Operations, basically a un-allocated "slush fund). These numbers do not include other costs (such as the Department of Homeland Security, veteran's care and interest payments). The actual amount that Americans spend on their endless wars exceeds $1.2 trillion every single year.
The real costs of these wars, though (and the US is now involved in seven), are the "opportunity costs" ... what could have been done with that money? What good could been done with that money?
Look what a sorry return Americans got for all those lives (over 6,251 American soldiers) and dollars spent (between US$4 and $6 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan alone). Fifteen years ago, I believe Americans chose a truly pathetic way to think and to live. And now they're stuck with their wrong choice; the nation in involved in seven long-term wars it cannot win. Who can accept the astonishing stupidity of it, the utter mediocrity of a society that aspires to do nothing more, nothing better, with its tremendous wealth?
Maybe roads, schools, bridges, railroads, and dams don't matter as much as conquest and empire. Maybe child development, education, old age security, unemployment benefits and health care don't matter as much as tax breaks for the ultra-rich. But I choose to believe otherwise. And my choice is one I can easily live with.
US Military Spending History since 2003: