The fiscal problems will start to truly harm the US nation’s global standing

9:53 31.03.2024 •

Sometimes, a news story seems so ordinary that it barely garners any attention, even as it turns the world upside down. Sometimes, innocent frolicking on the surface distracts from a rot extending below. This is what happened last week, when the Biden administration announced its plans to send an additional $300 million to Ukraine, meant as a stopgap until Congress can finally pass a funding package. According to national security adviser Jake Sullivan, this aid package was made possible by “unanticipated cost savings” in various contracts with the defence industry to replace equipment already sent to Ukraine, notes UnHerd.

At first, it seemed like a benign piece of news. What, after all, is wrong with saving a bit of money? Yet the reality is far more complicated. What Jake Sullivan actually announced wasn’t merely a case of finding $300 million of change under a Pentagon sofa cushion, but another sordid act in the slow-rolling and underreported drama that is the ongoing collapse of the American military.

When people today talk about the massive level of US debt ($34.5 trillion and rising fast) or the ongoing federal budget deficit (upwards of $1.6 trillion for fiscal year 2024), they often assume that these things are problems of the future. All agree that, at some point, these fiscal problems will start to truly harm the nation’s global standing; people simply disagree about when this will start happening. Unfortunately, the reality is that the massive debt load and the federal deficit is already beginning to destroy America from within. This is not a problem of the faraway future; it is a problem in the here and now.

With the fiscal sword of Damocles hanging over Congress, rather than assign additional funding to cover true cost increases, the name of the game is now budget trickery and budget raiding, shuffling money from one “pool” to another. But when that money is shuffled, it generally isn’t getting replaced. The “pool” that was drained in order to furnish money for something else remains empty, awaiting a refill that might never come.

It is this fundamental glitch in the US system that is now manifesting in all sorts of places, behind all sorts of headlines. So, when the Pentagon discovers some $300 million in “savings”, allowing for more equipment to be sent to Ukraine, this is in fact an accounting trick. But that trick belongs to a whole family of illusions, and their effect on the US military, taken as a whole, is rapidly becoming catastrophic. Thus, we now read stories about the US National guard temporarily cutting its retention bonuses in the middle of a massive recruitment crisis, or the Air Force removing special duty pay for many jobs within the service. Structural underfunding within the armed forces appears to be endemic.

Today, American political class is more of a grey-haired gerontocracy than that of the late Soviet Union, and they very much were born in a time when US wealth was limitless and US military power was without equal. Yet in order to protect that belief that nothing has changed, a much more systemic deception is being maintained; the US is raiding bonus funds for its sailors and soldiers and looting the money meant to maintain its ships and planes. All the while, the debts keep growing and the real budget (adjusted for inflation) keeps shrinking.


read more in our Telegram-channel