U.S. MILITARY IN PERSPECTIVE







Annual Military Spending

US$ Billion      
1 United States 989.0    
2 China 250.0    
3 Saudi Arabia 70.0    
4 India 66.5    
5 France 63.8    
6 Russia 61.4    
7 United Kingdom 50.0    
8 Germany 49.5    
9 Japan 46.6    
10 South Korea 43.1    
11 Italy 27.8    
12 Brazil 27.8    
13 Australia 26.7    
14 Canada 21.6    
15 Israel 19.6    
16 Turkey 19.0    
17 United Arab Emirates 14.4    
18 Colombia 12.1    
19 Spain 11.6    
20 Afghanistan 11.5    
21 Algeria 10.6    
22 Netherlands 9.8    
23 Singapore 9.7    
24 Poland 9.4    
25 North Korea 7.5    
26 Norway 7.0    
27 Pakistan 7.0    
28 Mexico 7.0    
29 Indonesia 6.9    
30 Oman 6.7    
31 Greece 6.5    
32 Iran 6.3    
33 Iraq 6.1    
34 Sweden 5.9    
35 Chile 5.5    
36 Thailand 5.4    
37 Kuwait 5.2    
38 Belgium 5.1    
39 Ukraine 4.9    
40 Switzerland 4.8    
41 Malaysia 4.7    
42 South Africa 4.6    
43 Denmark 4.4    
44 Egypt 4.4    
45 Argentina 4.3    
46 Angola 4.2    
47 Venezuela 4.0    
48 Portugal 3.8    
49 Finland 3.7    
50 Morocco 3.4    
51 Vietnam 3.4    
52 Austria 3.2    
53 Libya 3.0    
54 Philippines 3.0    
55 Czech Republic 2.2    
56 Peru 2.6    
57 Sudan 2.5    
58 Kazakhstan 2.4    
59 Ecuador 2.4    
60 Myanmar 2.4    
61 Nigeria 2.3    
62 Romania 2.2    
63 Qatar 1.9    
64 Syria 1.9    
65 New Zealand 1.9    
66 Lebanon 1.7    
67 Azerbaijan 1.6    
68 Bangladesh 1.6    
69 Jordan 1.5    
70 Sri Lanka 1.5    
71 Yemen 1.4    
72 Ireland 1.2    
73 Hungary 1.0    
74 Slovakia 1.0    
75 Croatia 1.0    
76 Serbia 0.8    
77 Slovenia 0.8    
78 Bahrain 0.7    
79 Belarus 0.7    
80 Bulgaria 0.7    
81 Cuba 0.7    
82 Kenya 0.6    
83 Tunisia 0.6    
84 South Sudan 0.5    
85 Armenia 0.5    
86 Uruguay 0.5    
87 Botswana 0.5    
88 Ivory Coast 0.4    
89 Lithuania 0.4    
90 Georgia 0.4    
91 Cameroon 0.4    
92 Ethiopia 0.3    
93 Estonia 0.3    
94 Bolivia 0.3    
95 Uganda 0.3    
96 Latvia 0.3    
97 Bosnia & Herzegovina 0.3    
98 Zambia 0.2    
99 Kyrgyzstan 0.2    
100 Tanzania 0.2    
101 Guatemala 0.2    
102 Nepal 0.2    
103 Honduras 0.2    
104 Turkmenistan 0.2    
105 Cambodia 0.2    
106 El Salvador 0.2    
107 Dem. Rep. of the Congo 0.2    
108 Panama 0.1    
109 Paraguay 0.1    
110 Albania 0.1    
111 Congo 0.1    
112 Ghana 0.1    
113 Namibia 0.1    
114 Chad 0.1    
115 Dominican Republic 0.1    
116 North Macedonia 0.1    
117 Zimbabwe 0.1    
118 Mozambique 0.1    
119 Niger 0.1    
120 Montenegro 0.1    
121 Gabon 0.1    
122 Mali 0.1    
123 Tajikistan 0.1    
124 Mongolia 0.1    
125 Uzbekistan 0.1    
126 Suriname 0.1    
127 Somalia 0.1    
128 Madagascar 0.1    
129 Nicaragua <0.1    
130 Mauritania <0.1    
131 Moldova <0.1    
132 Central African Republic <0.1    
133 Laos <0.1    
134 Sierra Leone <0.1    
135 Bhutan <0.1    
136 Liberia <0.1    
137 Cyprus <0.1    
138 Eritrea <0.1    
139 Brunei <0.1    
140 Luxembourg <0.1    
141 Senegal <0.1    
142 Burkina Faso <0.1    
143 Benin <0.1    
144 Eswatini <0.1    
145 Guinea <0.1    
146 Jamaica <0.1    
147 Rwanda <0.1    
148 Guinea-Bissau <0.1    
149 Belize <0.1    
150 Mauritius <0.1    
151 San Marino <0.1    
152 Iceland <0.1    
153 Cape Verde <0.1    
154 Gambia <0.1    
155 Papua New Guinea <0.1    
156 Seychelles <0.1    
157 Guyana <0.1    
158 Trinidad & Tobago <0.1    
159 Comoros <0.1    
160 Costa Rica <0.1    
161 Antigua & Barbuda <0.1    
162 Andorra <0.1    
163 Vanuatu <0.1    
164 Burkino Faso <0.1    
165 Burundi <0.1    
166 Malawi <0.1    
167 Djibouti <0.1    
168 Fiji <0.1    
169 East Timor <0.1    
170 Bermuda <0.1    
171 Bahamas <0.1    
172 Lesotho <0.1    
173 São Tomé & Príncipe <0.1    
174 Liechtenstein <0.1    
175 Grenada <0.1    
176 Barbados <0.1    
177 Haiti <0.1    
178 Dominica <0.1    
179 Marshall Islands <0.1    
180 Vatican City <0.1    
181 St. Vincent & the Grenadines <0.1    
182 Malta <0.1    
183 St. Lucia <0.1    
184 Solomon Islands <0.1    
185 Maldives <0.1    
186 St. Kitts & Nevis <0.1    
187 Equatorial Guinea <0.1    
188 Tonga <0.1    
189 Samoa <0.1    
190 Nauru <0.1    
191 Micronesia <0.1    
192 Monaco <0.1    
193 Togo <0.1    
194 Palau <0.1    
195 Tuvalu <0.1    
196 Kiribati <0.1    

Note: Figures are for 2020 or most recently available. U.S. spending includes the Department of Defense base budget ($576 billion), the Department of Defense Overseas Contingency Operations ($174 billion), the Department of Veterans Affairs ($93.1 billion), Homeland Security ($51.7 billion), the State Deparment ($42.8 billion), OCO funds for other departments ($26.1 billion), and the nuclear weapons budget of the Department of Energy ($16.5 billion), but does not include interest on the debt incurred in past wars.






Wars Involving the United States

1775 - 1783 American Revolutionary War
1776 - 1795 Chickamauga War
1785 - 1793 Northwest Indian War
1791 - 1794 Whiskey Rebellion
1798 - 1800 Quasi-War
1801 - 1805 First Babary War
1811 Tecumseh's War
1812 - 1815 War of 1812
1813 - 1814 Creek War
1815 Second Barbary War
1817 - 1818 First Seminole War
1820 - 1875 Texas-Indian Wars
1823 Arikara War
1825 - 1828 Aegean Sea Anti-Piracy Operations
1827 Winnebago War
1832 First Sumatran Expedition
1832 Black Hawk War
1835 - 1842 Second Seminole War
1838 Second Sumatran Expedition
1846 - 1848 Mexican-American War
1847 - 1855 Cayuse War
1851 - 1900 Apache Wars
1854 Bombardment of Greytown
1855 - 1856 Puget Sound War
1855 First Fiji Expedition
1855 - 1856 Rogue River Wars
1855 - 1857 Filibuster War
1855 - 1858 Third Seminole War
1855 - 1858 Yakima War
1856 - 1859 Second Opium War
1857 - 1858 Utah War
1858 - 1866 Navajo Wars
1859 Second Fiji Expedition
1859 - 1861 First and Second Cortina War
1860 Paiute War
1860 Reform War
1861 Bombardment of Qui Nhon
1861 - 1865 American Civil War
1861 - 1875 Yavapai Wars
1862 Dakota War of 1862
1863 - 1864 Shimonoseki War
1863 - 1865 Colorado War
1864 - 1868 Snake War
1865 Powder River War
1866 - 1868 Red Cloud's War
1867 Siege of Mexico City
1867 Formosa Expedition
1867 - 1875 Comanche Campaign
1871 United States Expedition to Korea
1872 - 1873 Modoc War
1874 - 1875 Red River War
1875 Las Cuevas War
1876 - 1877 Great Sioux War of 1876
1876 - 1877 Buffalo Hunters' War
1877 Nez Perce War
1877 - 1878 San Elizario Salt War
1878 Bannock War
1878 - 1879 Cheyenne War
1879 Sheepeater Indian War
1879 - 1881 Victorio's War
1879 - 1880 White River War
1890 - 1891 Pine Ridge Campaign
1891 - 1893 Garza Revolution
1896 - 1918 Yaqui Wars
1898 Spanish-American War
1898 - 1899 Second Samoan Civil War
1899 - 1902 Philippine-American War
1899 - 1901 Boxer Rebellion
1899 - 1913 Moro Rebellion
1904 Santo Domingo Affair
1909 Crazy Snake Rebellion
1910 - 1919 Border War
1912 Negro Rebellion
1912 - 1933 Occupation of Nicaragua
1914 - 1915 Bluff War
1915 - 1934 Occupation of Haiti
1916 - 1918 Sugar Intervention
1916 - 1924 Occupation of the Dominican Republic
1917 - 1918 World War I
1918 - 1920 Russian Civil War
1923 Posey War
1941 - 1945 World War II
1950 - 1953 Korean War
1958 Lebanon Crisis
1960 - 1973 Vietnam War
1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion
1964 Simba Rebellion
1965 - 1966 Dominican Civil War
1978 Shaba II
1982 - 1984 Multinational Force in Lebanon
1983 Invasion of Grenada
1987 - 1988 Tanker War
1989 - 1990 Invasion of Panama
1990 - 1991 Gulf War
1992 - 1995 Somali Civil War
1994 - 1995 Intervention in Haiti
1994 - 1995 Bosnian War
1998 - 1999 Kosovo War
2001 - present War in Afghanistan
2003 - 2011 Iraq War
2004 - present War in North-West Pakistan
2011 Military Intervention in Libya
2014 - present War on ISIL

Note: This list includes only major wars and does not include all military operations and armed conflicts. The U.S. has been at war for over 90% of its history.










The United States of America has a global military presence unlike that of any other country in history. Many countries go to war, but the U.S. is unique in both the size and power of its military and its propensity to use it. Since the end of World War II, the U.S. has spent more than $20 trillion to build up its military might. This is more than the cumulative monetary value of all human-made wealth in the United States.





Since the end of WWII, the U.S. government has spent more on its military than the value of all the houses, office buildings, factories, schools, hospitals, airports, hotels, shopping centres, power plants, machinery, water and sewage systems, roads, bridges, and railroads in the United States put together!




Adding up the current Pentagon budget, the nuclear weapons budget of the Department of Energy, foreign military aid and other military-related expenses, the U.S. spends nearly a trillion dollars on its military each year. That's over a million dollars every minute!

If interest payments on the debt incurred in past wars are included, the figure is closer to $1.5 trillion. Military spending accounts for 80% of the U.S. national debt.

The U.S. alone is responsible for half of the world's military spending and spends more than 40 times as much as the combined spending of the so-called rogue states: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and Venezuela.

Over half of the U.S. government's annual discretionary spending – the money the President and Congress have direct control over – goes to the military. By comparison, health care and education each account for about 5%. Cutbacks in social programs have caused far more devastation in the U.S. than any foreign army ever has.



Foreign Interventions

Every few years, the U.S. sends soldiers, warships, and warplanes to fight in distant countries. Since the end of WWII, the U.S. has:

  • Atttempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected
  • Carried out over 200 military operations in which it has struck the first blow
  • Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries
  • Waged war/military action, either directly or by proxy, in some 30 countries
  • Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders
  • Dropped bombs on the people of some 30 countries
  • Suppressed dozens of populist/nationalist movements in every corner of the world
  • Been responsible for the deaths of over 20 million people in numerous wars and conflicts throughout the world

By its actions, U.S. foreign policy seeks not only to secure its own borders but to dominate the rest of the planet. Foreign military interventions usually serve the interests of global corporate investment, regardless of the human and ecological costs to the regions affected. Rather than being guided by a devotion to moral principles of any kind, they serve to fulfill the following objectives:

  • making the world safe for U.S. corporations
  • preventing the development of any society that might serve as a successful example of an alternative to the capitalist model
  • extending political and economic control over as wide an area as possible
  • preventing any challengers from emerging that might threaten U.S. military supremacy
  • repaying defence contractors who have contributed generously to members of Congress

U.S. troops sometimes remain as an occupying army after invading, enforcing U.S. dictates and putting down local protests and rebellions. The U.S. government also finances, arms, and directs local "proxy" militias to fight on its behalf to overthrow governments not compliant to "U.S. interests." The list of those declared to be an "enemy" or a "terrorist" has included many people fighting for democracy in their country – like Nelson Mandela.



Military Bases

The U.S. Department of Defense is the world's largest landlord with over half a million buildings and structures located on nearly 5,000 sites worldwide. The actual number is likely much higher, as many military facilities are kept secret.

U.S. control over most of the planet is supported by an integrated network of military bases and installations which covers all the continents, oceans, and outer space. Thousands of troops are stationed at strategic locations to be deployed into military action at a moment's notice. With unparalleled naval and air forces, the U.S. possesses a unique capacity to act militarily anywhere in the world if it so chooses.

In addition to 4,500 military bases on its own territory, the U.S. has more than 1,000 bases in over 80 countries. (By comparison, China has one overseas base.) Of these foreign bases, 760 are acknowledged by the Pentagon and at least 300 more are known to exist, many of them espionage bases. Not included in the official base count are facilities run by other countries on behalf of the U.S., sites operated covertly by the CIA, and de facto "bases" that float on America's fleet of aircraft carriers.

The U.S. military maintains an empire of bases so large and shadowy that no one – not even at the Pentagon – likely knows its full size and scope. In total, about 1.5 million military personnel – combatants and civilians – are permanently stationed in 177 countries worldwide.





Following its bombing of Iraq in 1991, the U.S. acquired military bases in:
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait
  • Bahrain
  • Qatar
  • Oman
  • United Arab Emirates

Following its bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the U.S. acquired military bases in:
  • Kosovo (Serbia)
  • Albania
  • Bulgaria
  • North Macedonia
  • Hungary
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Croatia

Following its bombing of Afghanistan in 2001-2, the U.S. acquired military bases in:
  • Afghanistan
  • Pakistan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Tajikistan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Georgia
  • Yemen
  • Djibouti

Following its bombing and occupation of Iraq in 2003, the U.S. set up 505 military bases throughout the country of which 6 remain today.

In addition to the above, the U.S. has military bases in:
  • American Samoa (US)
  • Antarctica
  • Antigua & Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Aruba (Neth.)
  • Ascension Island (UK)
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Belgium
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cambodia
  • Canada
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rico
  • Cuba
  • Curaçao (Neth.)
  • Denmark
  • Diego Garcia (UK)
  • Dominican Republic
  • Egypt
  • El Salvador
  • Ethiopia
  • Gabon
  • Germany
  • Ghana
  • Greece
  • Greenland (Den.)
  • Guam (US)
  • Honduras
  • Hong Kong (China)
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Johnston Atoll (UK)
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Liberia
  • Marshall Islands
  • Mauritania
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Netherlands
  • Niger
  • Northern Mariana Islands (UK)
  • Norway
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico (US)
  • Romania
  • Senegal
  • Seychelles
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • South Sudan
  • Spain
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Uganda
  • United Kingdom
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Wake Island (UK)

The U.S. also has dozens of "lily pad" bases scattered around the globe. These are small, secretive, inaccessible facilities with limited numbers of troops, few amenities, and prepositioned weaponry and supplies. The U.S. is currently negotiating for additional military bases in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa.





Environmental Impact

The U.S. Department of Defense is the world's largest polluter. The U.S. military produces more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined. This includes uninhibited use of fossil fuels, massive creation of greenhouse gases, and extensive release of radioactive and chemical contaminants into the air, water, and soil.

Consuming nearly half a million barrels of oil per day, the Pentagon is the single largest user of petroleum in the world and the single largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world. The heaviest resource consumers of fossil fuels, in order, are: the U.S. military, U.S. citizens, China, and India. Military operations account for 80% of the U.S. government's energy load, not including fuel consumed by contractors or in the production of weapons.

Virtually no part of the world is untouched by environmental hazards generated by the U.S. military. Many of its overseas sites are used for explosives and nuclear weapons testing, becoming hubs of radiation and toxic residue production. They spawn lingering contaminants that are known to cause various types of cancer and birth defects on local populations.

U.S. military bases, both domestic and foreign, consistently rank among some of the most polluted places in the world, as perchlorate and other components of jet and rocket fuel contaminate sources of drinking water, aquifers, and soil. The U.S. attack on Iraq has resulted in the desertification of 90% of Iraqi territory, crippling the country's agricultural industry and forcing it to import more than 80% of its food.

Despite its reckless disregard for the environmental impact of its operations, the Pentagon has a blanket exemption from all international climate agreements. Military emissions abroad are exempt from national reporting requirements under U.S. law and UN climate change conventions.

On its own soil and in U.S. territories and coastal waters, the U.S. military has been exempted from almost all EPA regulations. In the Status of Forces Agreements that it signs with other nations, the U.S. government generally insists on exemption from environmental regulations and categorically renounces any responsibility for cleaning up the pollution that its military produces or leaves behind.

While the U.S. military has plenty of resources to move to renewable energy, it has remained dependent on petroleum, a boon for the oil and gas industry. The closure of military bases in addition to the end of wars would go a long way toward diminishing the U.S. government's gigantic carbon footprint.



September 11, 2001

For most of its history, the true costs of the wars the U.S. waged overseas had largely been hidden. U.S. taxpayers had to pay the military bills but the death and destruction was all overseas. That changed on September 11, 2001 – for the first time, the violence reached the U.S.

Few people anywhere in the world, including the Middle East, agreed with bin Laden's terrorist methods. Violence directed at civilians is never acceptable! But they shared his anger at the U.S. for supporting corrupt dictators (including Saddam Hussain during his worst crimes), supporting Israel at the expense of the Palestinians, and imposing U.S. dictates on the Middle East through military might and crippling economic sanctions.

The September 11 attacks were a response to decades of U.S. violence perpetrated against the people of the Middle East. The intended targets – the World Trade Center, the White House, and the Pentagon – were the centres of U.S. commerce, government, and military power. The message was clear: stop imposing economic, political, and military control on the people and resources of the Middle East.





"What America is tasting now is something insignificant compared to what we have tasted for scores of years. Our nation (the Islamic world) has been tasting this humiliation and degradation for more than 80 years. Its sons are killed, its blood is shed, its sanctuaries are attacked and no one hears and no one heeds. Millions of innocent children are being killed in Iraq without committing any sins....

To America, I say only a few words to it and its people. I swear to God, who has elevated the skies without pillars, neither America nor the people who live in it will dream of security before we live it here in Palestine and not before all the infidel armies leave the land of Muhammad, peace be upon him."

- Osama bin Laden,  October 7, 2001









1998 interview with Osama bin Laden





Instead of reconsidering its foreign policy and reducing its military operations in the Middle East, the U.S. responded to the attacks with more violence. The "war on terrorism" opened a new chapter in U.S. foreign wars, a chapter that may be marked by an endless cycle of violence. The war on terrorism cannot possibly end terrorism, as terrorism will always remain a tactic for those who feel aggrieved. Continued U.S. aggression will continue to encourage others to drive the U.S. out of the Middle East, inspiring more acts of terrorism.

"Homeland defense" has become an excuse for eliminating civil rights protections long deemed inconvenient by the FBI and other police agencies. The Pentagon and the CIA have a much freer hand in carrying out wars and violent covert operations around the world. The U.S. military has been handed practically a blank cheque to fight "terrorism" – a term that can be applied to any act of resistance to U.S. domination.

The U.S. is now pioneering a new type of warfare in which the killing is done by remote control. Use of military drones has lowered the threshold of war – it is much easier for political leaders to dispatch robots instead of soldiers. We are now in an era of warfare without beginning or end and without defined borders.



Corporate News Media

Corporate-controlled news media in the U.S. are businesses just like any other: they make a profit by selling a product to a buyer. The product is an audience and the buyer is another business. In effect, large corporations sell audiences to other large corporations. The product is you, as a viewer of media content and a consumer. To avoid alienating the buyer of their product – other corporations – the major news media generally conceal from their audience the corporate interests behind much of U.S. government policy, especially foreign policy.

Despite claims that the press has an adversarial relationship with the government, news media in the U.S. generally follow Washington's official line. The spectrum of debate falls in the relatively narrow range between the leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties. Washington policy-makers often claim that foreign interventions are necessary to protect "our interests" but the news media seldom ask what those interests are and who is actually served by them.

As demonstrated in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, and many other countries, defending U.S. interests usually means imposing neoliberal capitalist economic policies on nations that might strike a course independent of, or unfriendly to, transnational corporate investment. This is never the reason given in major news media. Rather, it is always a matter of "stopping aggression," "protecting national security," or punishing leaders who are said to be dictators, drug dealers, or state terrorists. The war on terrorism is really a global war against all those who oppose U.S. control of the planet.

The major news media expose little about the U.S. role in financing, equipping, training, and directing the repressive military forces in countries around the world. Many of the CIA's covert operations – bombings, assassinations, paramilitary massacres – are terrorism by any definition. Yet news media will never refer to such acts as "terrorism" – or describe U.S. foreign policy as "aggressive" or "hostile" – as long as government and military leaders proclaim they have noble intentions. The corporate news media will sometimes criticize their government's foreign policy as "ill-defined" or "overextended" but never as lacking in virtuous intent.