International Opinion

Military a winner in Biden's Budget

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President Xi Jinping of China and U.S. President Joe Biden in 2012 (image via Flickr)

President Joe Biden's Budget of six trillion dollars is being sold as a turn to liberal reform, but the media has largely neglected one significant fact.

The Budget allows for $1.52 trillion that is "discretionary" spending. 

Approximately half of that figure will be devoted to the military, a record amount. The U.S. has an economy to restore and a pandemic to fight, but military spending continues to rise.

At the same time as Budget allocations were being discussed, the President launched an intense propaganda campaign, resurrecting the story that COVID-19 originated in a Chinese laboratory. The two stories, of military build-up and a campaign of misinformation and falsification, can only sound alarm bells.

China is considered the enemy and has committed an inexcusable crime. It has risen as an economic power to not only rival the U.S. but to become a global economic hegemon.

The report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) counts for little in the eyes of the U.S. Administration and their allies.

There are some truths to consider. Among them is the Pentagon’s "shopping list" that is to be funded by the Biden Budget. It includes long-range strike bombers, ballistic missile submarines, more Joint Strike Fighter aircrafts, a new aircraft carrier and so on. Some of the big-ticket spending includes $24.7 billion for an upgrade of American nuclear weaponry, a substantial expansion of air and nuclear-capable naval force, and $112 billion for "research and development".

All of this is for a reason. Military provocations against China are not uncommon. Former President Barack Obama had his "pivot to Asia" but Biden is taking things further. 

His "Pacific Deterrence Initiative" that is placing a range of missiles on the territories of Japan, South Korea and importantly, Taiwan, is set to get $5.4 billion in his budget. China not surprisingly has stated that this can only be regarded as an act of war.

If the Chinese needed any persuasion as to the intent of Washington, the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, were quick to set them and the world straight. The two were speaking before the House Appropriations Committee. They felt no need to relent.

Austin first reminded his audience of America’s military dominance before stating that:

“We must maintain and improve this advantage on land, at sea, in the air, and in emerging domains, including space and cyberspace. I am confident that the President’s budget request helps us do that. The request is driven by our recognition that our competitors, especially China, continue to advance their capabilities.”

He outlined the "regional challenges" as the U.S. perceives them. They include China, the Indo-Pacific region, North Korea, Iran, Russia and the need to counter China’s potential influence in Latin America. The challenges apparently reach to the Arctic and into space.

Such a worldview hardly engenders anything like a feeling of optimism for the future. However, despite having to potentially engage with or against everyone on the planet, his co-speaker, Mark Milley, brought the audience back to what is the real and pressing concern for the U.S.

While America engages in war games, sets up missile installations on Taiwan and shifts its fleet to the South China Sea, Milley accused China of challenging the peaceful status quo in the region and that China must be countered and countered quickly.

He declared that:

... the operating environment of the future will likely not afford us the luxury of time to project force, so having modernized forces in sufficient size and readiness will be the key to sustaining deterrence and maintaining the peace, and if deterrence fails then fight and win … many enemies have grossly underestimated the United States and the American people in the past.


They’ve underestimated our national resolve. They’ve underestimated our capability, our skill and our combat power, and each made a fatal choice which ended with their enrolment in the dustbin of history.

China’s military build-up is real. Its power is real. Its capacity to defend itself is real and so is its fear that it is under direct threat from the United States. The U.S. and its allies consistently point the finger at the threat that a rising China poses and, after all, a story told well enough and repeated often enough gains a certain traction.

It is a simple matter to see where China’s army, navy and air force are stationed. It has no missile barrages in Mexico that target Texas. Northern American cities are safe from missile strikes from Chinese forces in Canada and yet U.S. missiles are just minutes flying time to major population centres in China. 

Biden’s Budget might be hailed as a big-spending budget to promote growth and to support the poor, but few worry about the exorbitant rise in military spending that is part of that Budget.

Biden can, in a blink of the eye, engage in the deceit that COVID-19 was the result of work done in a Wuhan laboratory. The WHO might inspect Wuhan and could find nothing untoward.

It will count for nothing, but then, who was concerned that former diplomat Hans Blix could not find weapons of mass destruction. Truth counts for nothing when enemies have been already lined up.

Dr William Briggs is a political economist. His special areas of interest lie in political theory and international political economy. His latest book, 'China, the USA and Capitalism’s Last Crusade' is due to be published by Zero Books in October.

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