A FEDERAL RESERVE BANK EXAGGERATES CHINA’S MILITARY SPENDING WITH DECEPTIVE GRAPH

In An Attempt To Grossly Exaggerate China’s Defense Spending, And Downplay America’s Military Budget, The Federal Reserve Bank Published A Jaw-Droppingly Deceptive Graph.

If a student presented this in a statistics 101 class, the teacher would likely give them an F. But because it involves Washington’s public enemy number one, Beijing, the American regional reserve bank was awarded a Golden Star for exemplary service in the New Cold War.

The St. Louis Fed listed the world’s top six countries by military expenditures, but used two separate axes: the spending of China, Russia, Britain, India, and Saudi Arabia was depicted on the left axis, which went from $0 to $300 billion; but a separate right axis was created just for the United States, which went from $400 billion to $1 trillion.

This extremely misleading graph made it look as though China spends more on its military than the United States.

But in reality, China’s defense budget in 2021 was $270 billion, whereas that of America was $767.8 billion – nearly three times larger (in constant 2020 US dollars).

The Pentagon budget subsequently ballooned to $782 billion in 2022 (in 2022 dollars), and $858 billion in 2023 (in 2023 dollars).

If the graph were edited to put all of the countries on the same axis, one can see how massive American military expenditure is compared to other top spenders:

When the St. Louis Fed published the deceptive graph on Twitter, it went viral, garnering hundreds of negative responses.

Michael P. McDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida, quipped, “If they’re willing to put this out, just imagine the internal analyses the Fed conducts to manage the economy”.

In an accompanying report, the St. Louis Fed admitted that China’s 2021 defense spending was just 1.7% of GDP, “which was the lowest share among the six nations in the figure”.

Moreover, Beijing’s military expenditure as a percentage of GDP has stayed very consistent since the early 1990s, with no increases.

China’s defense-to-GDP ratio has been almost a flat line since 1992 at around 2%, suggesting that its defense outlays have grown almost proportionally to its GDP”, the Fed conceded. “In turn, this means that the rapid rise of China’s defense spending seen in the first figure reflects the rapid rise in its GDP”.

But the American Department of Defense has dubbed China its top “threat”, and major media outlets like Foreign Policy have acknowledged that the Pentagon is preparing for war with Beijing.

This new cold war hysteria is reflected in shockingly unprofessional displays from supposed economic and political experts.

A much more accurate graphic created by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation shows how, as of 2022, the United States spent more on its military than the next nine largest spenders combined – including China, India, the UK, Russia, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and South Korea (and several of these countries are close American allies).

Beijing’s military spending is even smaller when it is measured per capita.

China is the most populous country on Earth, with more than 1.4 billion people – four times larger than the American population of just over 330 million.

When measured per capita, American military spending is close to the world’s highest, just under Israel and the United Arab Emirates, at $2351 per person as of 2020 (in constant 2019 dollars).

China’s per capita military spending that same year was a mere $175, representing only 7% of per capita American military spending. (Russia’s was $423 – lower than that of Lithuania, Portugal, and Belgium.)

And all of these American spending figures could be conservative, as they are based on the official Pentagon budget. Actual American military expenditure is often estimated to be even higher, and the Defense Department has failed every audit it has attempted, with tens of trillions of dollars worth of spending that is unaccounted for.

It is clear that even the Federal Reserve is a part of America’s propaganda ministry. Therefore, you can not trust a word they say.

 

FROM VIETNAM TO UKRAINE

In Vietnam, America Prevented The Implementation Of The Geneva Accord Which Would Have Allowed Ho Chi Minh To Unite The Divided Country.

In April 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered an eloquent and stirring denunciation of the Vietnam war and American militarism. The speech titled “Beyond Vietnam” is relevant to today’s war in Ukraine.

In the speech at Riverside Church, King talked about how America had supported France in trying to re-colonize Vietnam. He noted, “Before the end of the war we were meeting 80% of the French war costs.”

When France began to despair in the war, “We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war.”

King went on to recall that after the French finally left Vietnam, the United States prevented the implementation of the Geneva Accord which would have allowed Ho Chi Minh to unite the divided country. Instead, America supported its preferred South Vietnamese dictator.

America has played a similar role in blocking compromise solutions and international agreements to the Ukraine conflict.

Following Ukraine protests in February 2014, the European Union negotiated an agreement between President Yanukovich and the opposition to have early new elections. The attitude of the lead American official Victoria Nuland was crystallized in her secretly recorded comment, “F*** the EU!” Despite the agreement, a violent bloody coup led by ultra-nationalist Ukrainians was “midwifed”.

The ultra-nationalist coup government immediately started implementing policies hostile to the Russian speaking citizens of Ukraine. The coup and the new policies provoked the conflicts and resistance which have led to the situation today. The coup and policies were abhorred by a majority of Ukrainians, especially in eastern Ukraine. The Russian speaking Ukrainian citizens of Crimea voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and re-unify with Russia.

The Minsk Accords of 2014 and 2015 were intended to resolve the conflict by granting some autonomy to the the Russian speaking sections in the eastern Donbass but keeping them within Ukraine. Thanks to the admissions of two prominent former European leaders, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, we know that the West and their Ukrainian government puppet never intended to implement the Minsk Agreement.

Like the 1954 Geneva Accords regarding Vietnam, the 2014 and 2015 Minsk Agreements on Ukraine were never implemented because Washington did not want a compromise.

When Ukraine President Zelensky had negotiations with Russians in Turkey at the end of March 2022, UK PM Boris Johnson hurried to Kyiv to dissuade Zelensky from continuing serious negotiations to end the war.

Similarly, America is providing the big majority of weapons, military supplies and financial aid to Ukraine just as they did to France and then the puppet government of South Vietnam. And similarly America and its allies do not want a resolution to the conflict which might in any way be seen as win for Russia.

RATIONALIZATION VS REALITY OF WARS IN VIETNAM AND UKRAINE

In April 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) explained why he was escalating American involvement in Vietnam. With an Orwellian touch, he titled the speech “Peace without Conquest” as he announced the beginning of American air attacks on Vietnam. He explained that:

We must fight if we are to live in a world where every country can shape its own destiny and only in such a world will our own freedom be secure… we have made a national pledge to help South Vietnam defend its independence and I intend to keep that promise. To dishonor that pledge, to abandon the small and brave nation to its enemies and the terror must follow would be an unforgivable wrong…We are also there to strengthen world order… To leave Vietnam to its fate would shake the confidence of all these people in the value of an American commitment and in the value of America’s words.”

President Biden and administration leaders sound similar to LBJ in the early stage of the Vietnam War. In his remarks to Congress asking for additional funding for Ukraine, Biden said,

We need this bill to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom…. The cost of this fight is not cheap, but caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen…Investing in Ukraine’s freedom and security is a small price to pay to punish Russian aggression, to lessen the risk of future conflicts.”

Both Russia and America now acknowledge that the conflict in Ukraine is between Russia and NATO (led by America). Ukraine is a proxy for America which promoted the 2014 coup and has been pumping weapons into Ukraine ever since. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has been explicit: “We want to see Russia weakened.” The Ukrainian Defense Chief says they are fighting “to fulfill NATO’s mission.”

THESE WARS WERE UNNECESSARY

Just as America could have lived with Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh leadership without the war, America could live with Ukraine being a neutral country and bridge between east and west, Russia and western Europe.

However, as ML King observed 54 years ago, that was not (and still is not) American policy.

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.” He went on to name many other countries which are victims of American intervention and aggression. He said, “And if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves … marching …and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam…”

INCREMENTALLY INCREASING CONFLICT TOWARD TOTAL WAR

In 1965, when President Johnson announced the beginning of American air attacks on Vietnam, the war that had been going on for many years. America kept incrementally increasing its commitment – from political support to advisors and trainers and special operations. In spring 1965 “only” about 400 American soldiers had died in the conflict. The war was not yet widely unpopular. Americans who protested against the Vietnam War were a small minority.

We may be at a similar or earlier point in the conflict with Russia via Ukraine. While many tens of BILLIONS of dollars has been committed to Ukraine, plus advisors, trainers and other support, the American military has not yet been openly and actively deployed.

The incremental buildup in Vietnam ultimately led to over 58,000 Americans and three million Vietnamese civilians and soldiers being killed. American prestige and influence was severely damaged.

Martin Luther King Jr said in his 1967 speech:

We have no honorable intentions in Vietnam …. The world demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people.”

If the incremental buildup toward war with Russia is not stopped, it will be immeasurably worse than Vietnam. Already we are seeing tremendous destruction with Ukrainians and Russians dying by the thousands. As with Vietnam in 1965, this could be just the beginning.

THE COSTS OF WAR AND MILITARISM

Dr. King described the negative impact of the Vietnam war at home. He said:

A few years ago there was a shining moment …. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the Poverty Program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the build-up in Vietnam and I watched this program broken and eviscerated … I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”

Today, with nearly 60% of the federal discretionary budget going to the military, so called intelligence and nuclear weapon modernization, the situation is even more stark. While American infrastructure corrodes, homelessness, personal debt, suicides and addictions increase. Instead of spending resources improving the lives of ordinary people, the government is pouring borrowed billions into another unnecessary war.

WESTERN MEDIA DISTORTIONS

Western media portrayed America and South Vietnam winning the war in South East Asia until the 1968 Tet offensive exposed the lies and reality. Similarly, western media portrays Ukrainians winning the war midst overwhelming Ukrainian public support. In reality, Russia and the secessionist areas control large areas and will advance in the near future. Ukrainian losses are already huge.

The idea that all Ukrainians love the West and hate Russia is false. As an indication of the mixed sentiments, the country having received the MOST emigrants from Ukraine is Russia. While a small number continue from Russia to west European countries, the big majority stay in Russia with many awaiting the end of warfare.

Just as South Vietnamese puppet leaders were built up by America for political reasons, so is Ukrainian President Zelensky. His speeches are written by Washington insiders. Largely censored from the media, Zelensky has overseen the imprisonment, torture and killing of opponents. The largest opposition party has been banned. Many Ukrainians oppose his policy and continuation of the war.

Ukrainians have become cannon fodder for America’s geopolitical goals, just as the South Vietnamese were.

Will America and allies continue to escalate the conflict in Ukraine, to “double down” on an intervention half way around the world with the goal of hurting Russia? Have we learned nothing from Vietnam and subsequent American foreign policy disasters of the past 40 years?

M.L. KING’S HOPES AND DEATH

In his profound speech, Dr King said:

We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values…When machines and computer, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered… A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death …..The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just… Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out in a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism and militarism.”

Exactly one year after delivering the speech at Riverside Church, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated.

The Vietnam war continued for another seven years until the Vietnamese finally defeated and expelled the American military and their puppets. The disaster of the Vietnam War will be small compared to the disaster which may befall us all if American policy of attacking Russia through Ukraine is not stopped.

THE OMNIBUS BILL SHOWS CONGRESS’S PRIORIES ARE AUTHORITARIANISM AND WAR

The Fiscal Year 2022 Omnibus Appropriations Bill Expands Government, Reduces Liberty, And Increases Government Debt, While Increasing Militarism.

Those hoping for a Christmastime government shutdown were once again disappointed when Congress passed a 4,000-page, $1.7 trillion omnibus appropriations bill that few, if any, Representatives and Senators read before voting on. The Republican leadership celebrated this bloated monstrosity because it spends $858 billion on warfare while “only” spending $772.5 billion on welfare.

No one should think Republican insistence on more warfare than welfare spending means Democrats oppose the warfare state. Under President Biden and a Democrat-controlled Congress, “defense” spending has increased by 4.3 percent over the last two years. Similarly, every Republican President in recent years – including two who had a Republican-controlled Congress for at least part of their term – supported huge increases in welfare state spending. Most Democrats only pretend to oppose warfare and most Republicans only pretend to oppose welfare to appease their parties’ respective bases.

The Omnibus appropriates a $44.5 billion giveaway to Ukraine. This brings the total American spending on Ukraine’s military to over $100 billion – approximately 50 percent more than Russia’s entire military budget! This money is spent in a conflict that does not affect American security, yet one that would likely have not occurred were it not for prior American meddling in the region.

The Omnibus bill provides $11.3 billion for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a $569.6 million increase and $524 billion above the President’s request. According to the Democratic leadership, the funding increase is so the FBI can better fight “extremist violence and domestic terrorists.”

The public recently learned what the FBI considers an appropriate way to fight “extremism,” with the release of emails between Twitter officials and the FBI. These memos show the Bureau was working with Twitter – and almost certainly other social media companies – to suppress certain stories, such as Hunter Biden’s laptop, and points of view, such as skepticism regarding masks, lockdowns, and vaccine mandates. The bureau even used taxpayer funds to reimburse Twitter for the costs of implementing these “requests.” Government officials working with private companies to silence American citizens is a clear violation of the First Amendment.

This is hardly the first time the FBI has violated the constitutional rights of American citizens. In fact, since its founding the Bureau has targeted political activists and leaders such as Martin Luther King, whose agenda was considered “extreme” or “dangerous” by the Bureau’s corrupt leadership. The idea of a national police force with the power to target Americans because of their political beliefs would have horrified the drafters of the Constitution. The federal government has no constitutional authority over criminal law except for cases of piracy, counterfeiting, and treason. Libertarians, constitutional conservatives, and progressives who still care about civil liberties should join together to defund the FBI.

The fiscal year 2022 omnibus appropriations bill expands government, reduces liberty, and increases government debt, forcing the Federal Reserve to monetize more debt leading to more price inflation. Our political elites prioritize militarism abroad and authoritarianism at home over addressing the problems facing the American people like the Federal Reserve’s destructive monetary policy. This will fuel growing discontent with the political system. As the economy continues to worsen and the attempt to run the world continues to result in failures, the discontent will grow until the welfare warfare system collapses and, hopefully, a new error of liberty peace and prosperity dawns.

THE UKRAINIAN EMBASSY IN WASHINGTON’S PARTY INVITE SHOWS WHO MAKES MONEY OFF THE WAR

The Logos Of Military Contractors Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Pratt & Whitney, And Lockheed Martin Were On The Reception Invitation.

That invitation said the quiet part out loud.

The Ukrainian Embassy hosted a reception last week in honor of the 31st anniversary of the country’s armed services. Events like this are part of the social calendar of Washington’s smart set, with hobnobbing diplomats, think tankers, journalists, and American officials. Guests took photos with the Ukrainian ambassador. Even Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley showed up.

But there was something so overt it led some observers to laugh out loud at the gathering’s invitation.

The logos of military contractors Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Pratt & Whitney, and Lockheed Martin were emblazoned on the invitation as the event’s sponsors, below the official Ukrainian emblems and elegant blue script that said the Ukrainian ambassador and defense attaché “request the pleasure of your company.”

It’s really bizarre to me that they would put that on an invitation,” one think tank expert said. “The fact that they don’t feel sheepish about it, that’s interesting,” explained an academic. (Both spoke on the condition of anonymity and regularly attend embassy events in Washington.)

That Ukraine and those American military contractors have a strong relationship isn’t surprising. America’s allies and partners around the world bought some $50 billion in American weapons last year. These four companies produce some of the most high-profile missile defense systems and anti-tank missiles that President Joe Biden has sent to Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February. Neither is it surprising that Ukraine’s government, which says its country has already suffered hundreds of billions of dollars in damage, might not want to deplete its coffers.

But the explicit sponsorship indicates how intimate major military contractors have become with Ukraine, and how much they stand to gain from the war.

The invitation is a clear expression of how the war in Ukraine has been good for business. As Ukraine fights a defensive war against Russia’s brutal invasion, Ukrainians in Washington have been pushing for America to send Ukraine more weapons. So far, President Joe Biden’s administration has committed a substantial $19.3 billion of military assistance since February.

No one wanted to talk about the party invite, however. A senior official from the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington confirmed that the companies’ logos appeared on the invitation but declined to speak on the record. The official directed reporters to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, which did not immediately respond. Lockheed declined to officially comment and deferred to Ukraine House, an embassy-linked entity that was also listed on the invitation. Raytheon also declined to comment. Emails to Northrop Grumman and Pratt & Whitney were not returned.

Even some American supporters of Ukraine say the overt sponsorship is a bad look. “Sustaining American popular support is absolutely essential for Ukraine’s continued defense,” Matt Duss, a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace fellow who previously advised Sen. Bernie Sanders, told me. “So Ukrainian diplomats should probably think harder about how it looks for them to be throwing parties with the defense contractors who are making bank off of this horrible war.”

THE EXPOSURE OF THE PENTAGON’S MASSIVE FRAUD

How American Military Spending Keeps Rising Even After The Pentagon Flunked Its Audit 4 Years Ago.

On November 15, 2018 Ernst & Young and other private firms that were hired to audit the Pentagon announced that they could not complete the job. Congress had ordered an independent audit of the Department of Defense, the government’s largest discretionary cost center—the Pentagon receives 54 cents out of every dollar in federal appropriations—after the Pentagon failed for decades to audit itself. The firms concluded, however, that the DoD’s financial records were riddled with so many bookkeeping deficiencies, irregularities, and errors that a reliable audit was simply impossible.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan tried to put the best face on things, telling reporters, “We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it.” Shanahan suggested that the DoD should get credit for attempting an audit, saying, “It was an audit on a $2.7 trillion organization, so the fact that we did the audit is substantial.” The truth, though, is that the DoD was dragged kicking and screaming to this audit by bipartisan frustration in Congress, and the result, had this been a major corporation, likely would have been a crashed stock.

As Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, a frequent critic of the DoD’s financial practices, said on the Senate floor in September 2017, the Pentagon’s long-standing failure to conduct a proper audit reflects “twenty-six years of hard-core foot-dragging” on the part of the DoD, where “internal resistance to auditing the books runs deep.” In 1990, Congress passed the Chief Financial Officers Act, which required all departments and agencies of the federal government to develop auditable accounting systems and submit to annual audits. Since then, every department and agency has come into compliance—except the Pentagon.

Now, a Nation investigation has uncovered an explanation for the Pentagon’s foot-dragging: For decades, the DoD’s leaders and accountants have been perpetrating a gigantic, unconstitutional accounting fraud, deliberately cooking the books to mislead the Congress and drive the DoD’s budgets ever higher, regardless of military necessity. DoD has literally been making up numbers in its annual financial reports to Congress—representing trillions of dollars’ worth of seemingly nonexistent transactions—knowing that Congress would rely on those misleading reports when deciding how much money to give the DoD the following year, according to government records and interviews with current and former DoD officials, congressional sources, and independent experts.

If the DOD were being honest, they would go to Congress and say, ‘All these proposed budgets we’ve been presenting to you are a bunch of garbage,’ ” said Jack Armstrong, who spent more than five years in the Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General as a supervisory director of audits before retiring in 2011.

The fraud works like this. When the DoD submits its annual budget requests to Congress, it sends along the prior year’s financial reports, which contain fabricated numbers. The fabricated numbers disguise the fact that the DoD does not always spend all of the money Congress allocates in a given year. However, instead of returning such unspent funds to the Treasury, as the law requires, the Pentagon sometimes launders and shifts such moneys to other parts of the DoD’s budget.

Veteran Pentagon staffers say that this practice violates Article I Section 9 of the Constitution, which stipulates that:

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.”

Among the laundering tactics the Pentagon uses: So-called “one-year money”—funds that Congress intends to be spent in a single fiscal year—gets shifted into a pool of five-year money. This maneuver exploits the fact that federal law does not require the return of unspent “five-year money” during that five-year allocation period.

The phony numbers are referred to inside the Pentagon as “plugs,” as in plugging a hole, said current and former officials. “Nippering,” a reference to a sharp-nosed tool used to snip off bits of wire or metal, is Pentagon slang for shifting money from its congressionally authorized purpose to a different purpose. Such nippering can be repeated multiple times “until the funds become virtually untraceable,” says one Pentagon-budgeting veteran who insisted on anonymity in order to keep his job as a lobbyist at the Pentagon.

The plugs can be staggering in size. In fiscal year 2015, for example, Congress appropriated $122 billion for the Army. Yet DoD financial records for the Army’s 2015 budget included a whopping $6.5 trillion (yes, trillion) in plugs. Most of these plugs “lack[ed] supporting documentation,” in the bland phrasing of the department’s internal watchdog, the Office of Inspector General. In other words, there were no ledger entries or receipts to back up how that $6.5 trillion supposedly was spent. Indeed, more than 16,000 records that might reveal either the source or the destination of some of that $6.5 trillion had been “removed,” the inspector general’s office reported.

In this way, the DoD propels American military spending higher year after year, even when the country is not fighting any major wars, says Franklin “Chuck” Spinney, a former Pentagon whistle-blower. Spinney’s revelations to Congress and the news media about wildly inflated Pentagon spending helped spark public outrage in the 1980s. “They’re making up the numbers and then just asking for more money each year,” Spinney told The Nation. The funds the Pentagon has been amassing over the years through its bogus bookkeeping maneuvers “could easily be as much as $100 billion,” Spinney estimated.

Indeed, Congress appropriated a record amount—$716 billion—for the DoD in the current fiscal year of 2019. That was up $24 billion from fiscal year 2018’s $692 billion, which itself was up $6 billion from fiscal year 2017’s $686 billion. Such largesse is what drives American military spending higher than the next ten highest-spending countries combined, added Spinney. Meanwhile, the closest thing to a full-scale war the United States was currently fighting was in Afghanistan, where approximately 15,000 American troops were deployed—only 2.8 percent as many as were in Vietnam at the height of that war.

The DoD’s accounting practices appear to be an intentional effort to avoid accountability, says Armstrong. “A lot of the plugs—not all, but a substantial portion—are used to force general-ledger receipts to agree with the general budget reports, so what’s in the budget reports is basically left up to people’s imagination,” Armstrong says, adding, “Did the DoD improperly spend funds from one appropriated purpose on another? Who can tell?”

The United States government collects trillions of dollars each year for the purpose of funding essential functions, including national-security efforts at the Defense Department,” Senator Grassley told The Nation. “When unelected bureaucrats misuse, mismanage and misallocate taxpayer funds, it not only takes resources away from vital government functions, it weakens citizens’ faith and trust in their government.”

This Pentagon accounting fraud is déjà vu all over again for Spinney. Back in the 1980s, he and a handful of other reform-minded colleagues exposed how the DoD used a similar accounting trick to inflate Pentagon spending—and to accumulate money for “off-the-books” programs. “DoD routinely over-estimated inflation rates for weapons systems,” Spinney recalled. “When actual inflation turned out to be lower than the estimates, they did not return the excess funds to the Treasury, as required by law, but slipped them into something called a ‘Merged Surplus Account,’” he said.

In that way, the Pentagon was able to build up a slush fund of almost $50 billion” (about $120 billion in today’s money), Spinney added. He believes that similar tricks are being used today to fund secret programs, possibly including American Special Forces activity in Niger. That program appears to have been undertaken without Congress’s knowledge of its true nature, which only came to light when a Special Forces unit was ambushed, resulting in the deaths of four American soldiers.

Because of the plugs, there is no auditable way to track Pentagon funding and spending,” explains Asif Khan of the Government Accountability Office, the Congress’s watchdog on the federal bureaucracy. “It’s crucial in auditing to have a reliable financial record for prior years in order to audit the books for a current year,” notes Khan, the head of the National Security Asset Management unit at GAO. Plugs and other irregularities help explain why the Pentagon has long been at or near the top of the GAO’s list of “high risk” agencies prone to significant fraud, waste, and abuse, he adds.

The Nation submitted detailed written questions and requested interviews with senior officials in the Defense Department. Only public-affairs staff would speak on the record. In an e-mailed response, Christopher Sherwood of the DoD’s Public Affairs office denied any accounting impropriety. Any transfer of funds between one budgetary account and another “requires a reprogramming action” by Congress, Sherwood wrote, adding that any such transfers amounting to more than 1 percent of the official DoD budget would require approval by “all four defense congressional committees.”

The scale and workings of the Pentagon’s accounting fraud began to be ferreted out by a dogged research team led by Mark Skidmore, a professor of economics specializing in state and local government finance at Michigan State University. Skidmore and two graduate students spent months poring over DoD financial statement reviews done by the department’s Office of Inspector General. Digging deep into the OIG’s report on the Army’s 2015 financial statement, the researchers found some peculiar information. Appendix C, page 27, reported that Congress had appropriated $122 billion for the US Army that year. But the appendix also seems to report that the Army had received a cash deposit from the Treasury of $794.8 billion. That sum was more than six times larger than Congress had appropriated—indeed, it was larger than the entire Pentagon budget for the year. The same appendix showed that the Army had accounts payable (accounting lingo for bills due) totaling $929.3 billion.

Do you think you could get away with doing something like that?

THE WASHINGTON POST ONLY SERVES THE MILITARY’S INTERESTS

In A Biased Somalia Report They Blow Trump’s Troop “Withdrawal” From The Country Out Of Proportion, While Ignoring The Failures Of American’s Intervention There.

The American war in Somalia rarely receives much media coverage, so it was notable that The Washington Post published a long article last week detailing the current American military role in the conflict against the Al Shabaab militia.

The article emphasized the pitfalls of the previous 2020 withdrawal of troops from the country and the greater costs and inefficiencies of using “commuting” troops to support the Somali government from nearby bases in Kenya and Djibouti. It tells the story of how American forces are “scrambling” to recover from the setbacks caused by the withdrawal under Trump without putting the withdrawal in the context of a failed military campaign that had already stretched on for more than a decade.

The wisdom and necessity of the mission in Somalia are never questioned even in passing, and the entire report reads like an exercise in putting the most positive spin on the Biden administration’s decision to send several hundred troops back into Somalia.

What the article never attempts to do is to offer any compelling reasons why American forces should still be involved in a Somali war in 2022 when there is no discernible connection between this conflict and the security of the United States. Ongoing American involvement in Somalia’s war is something that seems to be taken for granted, and the only questions that the article tries to answer are how best to fight the war and how effective local Somali government forces have become.

Bottom line: the Washington Post fails to hold our government accountable for a war it’s been waging unsuccessfully for 15 years. This kind of slack journalism has allowed wars like this one to drag on without end.

Another important omission from the article is any discussion of the legal authority for American military operations in Somalia. Since the Obama administration named Al Shabaab an “associated force” of Al Qaeda, the American regime has worked on the assumption that the 2001 AUMF covers this group. This is an exceptionally weak foundation for a legal justification for using force in Somalia more than twenty years after the original resolution was passed.

Not only does Al Shabaab have nothing to do with the people responsible for planning and carrying out the 9/11 attacks, but the group itself only came into existence years later. Furthermore, it has demonstrated no ability to conduct attacks outside East Africa. The idea that the United States is in any sense defending itself by waging war on Somali militiamen strains credulity past the breaking point. Among other things, the war in Somalia is a cautionary tale of how the 2001 AUMF has become an all-purpose license for war whenever the executive chooses to use it.

Both parties share in the failures of American policy in Somalia. American involvement in the war there stretches back to the Bush administration, and it has deepened over time as the “war on terror” has become an entrenched and routine part of our foreign policy. Trump inherited and escalated the war in Somalia for almost his entire presidency, and it was only at the very end that he ordered approximately eight hundred troops to leave the country. Of course, American involvement in the war did not really end, and the troops simply relocated to bases in neighboring countries.

Even when Trump succeeded in ordering a withdrawal, he was unable to extricate America from the conflict in question. Instead of admitting that the intervention had been unsuccessful, America kept it going by shuttling its forces into the country on a rotating basis. This is the arrangement that the Biden administration ended when the president ordered 450 troops to go back to Somalia on a more permanent basis earlier this year. In one of his only reversals of a Trump policy, Biden opted for the older approach that had already been found wanting.

As Oona Hathaway and Luke Hartig explained earlier this year, the decision to withdraw the troops based in Somalia followed a significant escalation by American forces during the Trump years. The withdrawal was a belated acknowledgment that the intensified campaign against Al Shabaab had not yielded the desired results: “After its stepped up military campaign failed to achieve durable gains and following a last ditch effort to negotiate with al-Shabaab, the Trump administration decided to cuts its losses and withdraw U.S. forces. The Biden administration has decided to re-engage, though currently at a level that leaves the country in a long-term stalemate. Battlefield losses could still degrade al-Shabaab, especially its external operations capabilities, but the larger conflict is likely to remain static.”

During the Trump years, American forces significantly increased the use of airstrikes and drone strikes against supposed Al Shabaab targets. As a recent report from the Dutch peace organization Pax shows, this intensified aerial campaign inflicted serious harm on civilians that were either caught in the crossfire or who were themselves mistakenly targeted. This not only did lasting damage to the communities affected by these strikes, but it also served to benefit Al Shabaab by aiding in the group’s recruiting. This part of the American war in Somalia is barely mentioned in the Post article, and the civilian casualties that it caused are nowhere to be found.

American military involvement in Somalia is relatively small, and that is why it has been able to fly under the radar without much public or Congressional scrutiny for so many years. It is incumbent on journalists and analysts to do more than just ask whether one kind of military footprint is more efficient than another.

On the rare occasions when the war in Somalia does receive coverage, we need reporters to ask why America is persisting with a policy of militarized counterterrorism when it has clearly failed to reduce, much less eliminate, the threat that Al Shabaab poses to Somalia. When it comes to providing stability to Somalia, Hathaway and Hartig note that “the militarized approach that has long dominated U.S. policy toward Somalia appears unlikely to produce” it, and they add that “there’s a strong case that the opposite would prove true.”

Writing for the Quincy Institute in 2020, Elizabeth Shackelford asked the pertinent questions about this policy: “Why is the U.S. military fighting a war there? What U.S. national interest is the war serving? And are America’s actions in Somalia and the region furthering that national interest?” These are the questions that we need our major papers to be asking the administration, which is recommitted to fighting a war that most Americans know little or nothing about. The truth is that there is no American national interest served by fighting in this war, and America keeps fighting it mostly out of habit and inertia.

If the case for American military involvement in Somalia were sound, Congress should be able to debate and vote on it on its own merits. Failing that, America should fully withdraw from this and all other senseless wars once and for all.

THE AMERICAN MILITARY THANKS AND PRAISES RETIRING CNN “JOURNALIST” FOR HER SERVICE

This Clearly Demonstrates That America Does Not Have A “Free And Independent Press” But Simply Has A “Propaganda Ministry.”

The American military has been showering CNN’s retiring Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr with effusive thanks and praise for her lifetime of service, giving some insight into the cozy working relationship between the media and the war machine inside the American empire.

Today closes a remarkable career for CNN’s Barbara Starr, a leader in the Pentagon Press Corps,” reads a post by the Twitter account for America’s Central Command. “Her aggressive reporting and tireless commitment to the truth brought this Nation closer to its military. She will forever be missed.”

Starr received a standing ovation at a Pentagon press briefing on Tuesday after Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder sang her praises and thanked her for two decades on the job.

I’d like to take this opportunity to say farewell to our media colleague, Miss Barbara Starr,” Ryder said. “Barbara has reported for CNN for over 20 years, and has been a fixture in the Pentagon Press Corps, and today marks her final day with CNN after a storied and fully-impressive — excuse me — truly impressive career.”

So Barbara, on behalf of Secretary of Defense Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Milley and the entire Department of Defense, I would like to extend a special congratulations and thank you for your many years of timely, insightful and important reporting on our nation’s most pressing defense issues,” Ryder continued. “And as someone who has worked with you for many of those last 20 years and someone who has had to take your late-night phone calls and emails and answer your tough, but fair questions, I can say from personal experience that the U.S. public and audiences worldwide have been well served by your in-depth reporting from the Pentagon, your journalistic integrity and your determination to tell the stories of service members worldwide, and to ensure the government and DOD remain transparent and accountable to the taxpayers and the American public they serve. Congratulations again, and we wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.”

You know Department of Defense better then [sic] most. We will miss you! Thanks for your service to our Democracy! Free Independent Press !”, retired lieutenant general Russel L. Honoré told Starr on Twitter.

There is no clearer sign that America does not have a “free independent press” than for military to be gushing affectionately about the career of a longtime CNN Pentagon correspondent. There is no more disgraceful way for a journalist to retire than with a standing ovation at the Pentagon.

Surely there can be no clearer a mark of journalistic failure than being thanked by the American military for your lifetime of service. If your journalistic relationship with the corrupt and murderous American military was ever anything other than oppositional, and their feelings toward you anything but hostile, it’s because you were never a journalist. You were their PR agent.

And indeed one need only look at Starr’s output over the course of her career to know that this was the case. Watch her uncritically parroting government claims about chemical weapons in Syria. Watch the infomercial-like way she reports on the American “war on terror” activity in the Middle East. Watch her enthusing about what a “win” the capture of Muammar Gaddafi was for the United States. Watch her finger-wagging at the president of the Philippines after he verbally insulted the president of the United States. Compare the way she talks about allegations of Russian war crimes and American war crimes.

I’ve been listening to her for years, and I can’t recall a single time she wasn’t just reading a Pentagon press release,” tweeted activist Steve Patt.

The American military has such adoration for Barbara Starr because she is a war propagandist, just like the rest of the mainstream western news media who report on American foreign policy. And the Pentagon was joined by Starr’s fellow propagandists in celebrating her storied career.

You are so well-respected, not only here at CNN but in the broader community of journalists — I know how well-respected you are at the Pentagon,” anchor Erica Hill told Starr on CNN.

CNN and our viewers have benefited greatly from her truly extraordinary reporting skills and her deep knowledge of the US military, that I truly appreciate as a former CNN correspondent myself,” said CNN’s Wolf Blitzer during his farewell to Starr.

So well deserved. Barbara was one of the best journalists I worked with at CNN. A Pentagon legend,” tweeted Murdoch pundit Piers Morgan.

This is everything that is wrong with news media in the western world. Journalists are supposed to hold power to account with the light of truth, and that cannot happen if they are building warm, affectionate relationships with the people they’re meant to be aggressively scrutinizing. If the public is getting their information about the workings of the most powerful military force ever assembled by people who are friendly with and sympathetic to that military force, then they cannot possibly be getting accurate information about it. The press cannot possibly be ensuring that “the government and DOD remain transparent and accountable to the taxpayers and the American public they serve.”

And that is of course the point. The mass media of the western world do not exist to inform, they exist to misinform. To create a compliant and obedient populace who doesn’t interfere with the mechanisms of empire or the violence necessary for upholding it. To, as CENTCOM so aptly put it, bring the nation closer to its military.

That was Barbara Starr’s entire job, it will be the job of whoever replaces her, and it will be the job of everyone else in the Pentagon press room with them.

THE AMERICAN MILITARY AND THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA

How Do We Stop The Propaganda Machine From Initiating The Next War Built On Lies From Being Waged?

Because all governments lie and because lies are especially common during war, a healthy democracy must have an outspoken and independent media that challenges and questions authority while informing the public.

But the mainstream media (MSM) in America is neither outspoken nor independent. The MSM in America serves as stenographers to the powerful. Far too often, the American military/government lies and leaks, the MSM believes and repeats.

The result is clear: disastrous wars (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq) from which little is ever learned, enabled by a media culture that is deeply compromised by, or openly in league with, President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s military-industrial-congressional complex (MICC).

Here’s the fundamental issue: We need a skeptical and powerful media to deter the MICC from wars, war profiteering, and folly. The MSM should, and must, serve as a check on the MICC while holding it accountable when it fails. By doing neither, it serves various “big lies,” enabling future abuses of power by the national security state. There is no accountability for failure, so failure is neither punished now nor is it curtailed in the future.

Even when the MICC fails, and since the Vietnam War it has failed frequently, it gets more money. Consider the FY2023 Pentagon budget, which sits at $858 billion, a nearly inconceivable sum and which is roughly $45 billion more than the Biden administration asked for.

The challenge is, how do we stop the next war built on lies from being waged?

Something to ponder: Could a more critical, more courageous, truly independent media have shortened or stopped the Vietnam War? Iraq? Afghanistan?

In his famous speech warning Americans about the MICC in 1961, Eisenhower (Ike) said that only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry could guard against the acquisition of power by the MICC. This may indeed be why most citizens are not kept informed or are misinformed about the American military and its wars. It’s hard to act when you’re kept ignorant. You’ll also be reluctant to act when you’re told to defer to the “experts” in the MSM, most of whom are deeply compromised, often by conflicts of interest that are kept hidden from you.

MILITARY MENDACITY

Put simply, the American military, in its upper ranks, lacks honor. What matters most is reputation and budgetary authority. Sharing negative news with the media is the absolute last thing the military wants to do. Surprisingly, most in the MSM are willing to look the other way, assuming they even know of military mendacity and malfeasance.

What this means, essentially, is that the MICC is unaccountable to the people – the very antithesis of democracy.

Three big examples of MICC mendacity: The Pentagon Papers revealed by Daniel Ellsberg during the Vietnam War; the Iraq War and lies about WMD (weapons of mass destruction); and the Afghan War Papers. Even as the American military was losing these three wars, military commanders and government officials spoke publicly and confidently of lights at the end of tunnels, of corners being turned toward victory. (Privately, however, they talked of serious problems and lack of progress.)

The MSM (with notable exceptions) largely repeated the happy-talk lies. Since 9/11, this is unsurprising, since the MSM leans heavily on senior retired military officers, CIA officials, and the like to “interpret” events in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. As journalist David Barstow showed, these “interpreters” were and are fed talking points by the Pentagon. Whatever this is, it’s not honest reporting. It’s not journalism. It’s state propaganda.

It’s not that the American people can’t handle the truth about “their” military. It’s that the MICC prefers to keep a lid on the truth, because the truth is often unfavorable to their positions, power, prestige, and profits.

There are many ways the MICC works with a complicit media (and a compliant Congress) to keep the truth from us.

1. Bad news is not reported. Or it’s classified or otherwise hushed up. Consider the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam or the “collateral murder” video from the Iraq War revealed by Chelsea Manning and WikiLeaks.

2. Critical information is omitted. Coverage is edited. Consider the ban on showing flag-draped coffins by the Bush/Cheney administration, or official reports about drone strikes that omitted the true number of civilian/non-combatant casualties.

3. The military has its own PAOs (public affairs offices and officers) who feed news of “progress” and similar “good news” stories to the media. This is also true of the State Department.

4. Ever-present appeals to patriotism and warnings that critical information will give aid and comfort to the enemy. Even worse, portraying critics as pro-Putin, as possible traitors, as in the NBC smear campaign against Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, abetted also by Hillary Clinton.

5. Run-of-the-mill propaganda. Consider, for example, how almost all American sporting events include glowing coverage of the military and veterans. If all military members are “heroes,” how dare we question them! Instead, you’re encouraged to salute smartly and remain silent.

MEDIA COMPLICITY

Why is the MSM so hobbled and often so complicit with the MICC?

1. Intimidation. Critics are punished. Examples include Ashleigh Banfield, Phil Donahue, and Chris Hedges in the early days of the Iraq War. Think of Julian Assange today. Edward Snowden. Daniel Hale. Smart journalists know (or learn) that critics and whistleblowers are punished; cheerleaders are promoted, e.g. Brian Williams, demoted for stolen valor but redeemed for declaring his awe at “the beauty” of American missiles.

2. Ratings/Economics. Recall that MSNBC fired Phil Donahue over concerns that his critical coverage of the Iraq War was turning off viewers, i.e. that the network wasn’t being seen as “patriotic” as rivals like CNN or Fox News, thereby losing market share and money.

3. Embedding Process. Reporters who want to cover war are often embedded with American military units. They come to identify with “their” troops, who, after all, are protecting them from harm. The embedding process forges a sense of dependency and camaraderie that interferes with disinterested and balanced reporting.

4. Reliance on deeply conflicted experts from the MICC instead of independent journalists. Whatever else they are, retired generals and CIA directors are not reporters or journalists.

5. Corporate advertising dollars. Why air a report critical of Boeing or Northrop Grumman when that company is a major advertiser on your network? Why bite the hand that feeds you?

You don’t need a top secret “Mockingbird” project by the CIA to infiltrate and influence the MSM, as we witnessed during the Cold War and Vietnam. Today, the MSM and its owners acquiesce in their own infiltration, hiring retired CIA agents and similar senior government officials to give/sell their “unbiased” opinions.

Again, military contractors pay for ads and sponsor shows on TV. The media is not about to challenge or criticize a big revenue stream. And it’s not always a weapons maker like Boeing or Raytheon. Think of ExxonMobil. Their thirstiest customer is the American military; ExxonMobil is unlikely to support media reports that criticize its biggest customer.

Meanwhile, there are precious few reporters and journalists willing to risk their careers to challenge the MICC. With so-called access journalism, if you reveal uncomfortable facts, you’ll likely lose access to the powerful, alienate your bosses, and probably lose your job.

Food for Thought: Journalists are selected and groomed for compliance to mainstream militarized agendas. They’ve learned and internalized what is acceptable and what isn’t. If they refuse to play along, they’re fired or shunted aside. (See Noam Chomsky and the manufacturing of consent.)

For the American military, full-spectrum dominance includes information and the control of the same, including most especially in America.

A final shocking truth: The American military lost in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere while avoiding responsibility. Indeed, its cultural authority and its command over the media have only grown stronger. Worse, the military promulgates, or goes along with, various stab-in-the-back myths that exculpate itself while mendaciously blaming the few good media outlets for accurate reporting about the MICC’s failings.

A crucial step in preventing future disastrous wars is a media culture that sees the MICC for what it is: a danger to democracy and liberty, as Ike warned us in 1961 in his farewell address. How we get there is a crucial issue; the failures above suggest remedies.

The major networks need to develop their own, independent, journalists who are experts on the military, rather than relying largely on retired military officers and other senior government officials.

We are told that America has independent media rather than state media like China or Russia. Yet, if America had official state media, would its coverage differ from today’s content? The MSM supports state and corporate agendas because that’s how it makes money even as it claims it’s “independent.”

AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOLS ARE BEING INFILTRATED BY MILITARY GROOMERS

Students Across America Are Being Forced Into Military Classes Without The Ability To Avoid The Empire’s Militarism.

A New York Times report has found that enrollment in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), a Pentagon-funded program designed to groom children for military service, is increasingly becoming mandatory in American high schools.

J.R.O.T.C. programs, taught by military veterans at some 3,500 high schools across the country, are supposed to be elective, and the Pentagon has said that requiring students to take them goes against its guidelines,” the report says. “But The New York Times found that thousands of public school students were being funneled into the classes without ever having chosen them, either as an explicit requirement or by being automatically enrolled.”

While Pentagon officials have long insisted that J.R.O.T.C. is not a recruiting tool, they have openly discussed expanding the $400 million-a-year program, whose size has already tripled since the 1970s, as a way of drawing more young people into military service. The Army says 44 percent of all soldiers who entered its ranks in recent years came from a school that offered J.R.O.T.C.,” the Times reports.

And before you ask, no, the Pentagon’s grooming program is not being forced on kids in Malibu and the Hamptons.

A vast majority of the schools with those high enrollment numbers were attended by a large proportion of nonwhite students and those from low-income households,” the Times reports, naming Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, and Mobile, Alabama as cities where high schools are funneling kids into the program en masse.

Defenders of mandatory JROTC enrollment reportedly cite the need to “divert students away from drugs or violence” and “the allure of drugs and gangs” in urban areas, as though corralling them into the single most violent gang on Earth is a deterrence from violence and gangs. Grooming students to go kill foreigners for crude oil is not our idea of a healthy diversion from youthful error.

This would probably be a good time to remind readers that poverty in the United States is one of the Pentagon’s most effective recruiting tools, with Army officials explicitly acknowledging that young people’s inability to afford a college education on their own is responsible for their success in meeting recruitment goals, and lawmakers warn that helping people pay off crushing student debt will hurt recruitment. American military recruiters have an established record of targeting poorer schools, because impoverished communities often see military service as their only chance at upward mobility.

The New York Times describes a cult-like environment in these JROTC programs where “parents in some cities say their children are being forced to put on military uniforms, obey a chain of command and recite patriotic declarations in classes they never wanted to take,” with special textbooks which “at times falsify or downplay the failings of the U.S. government.” And if even The New York Times believes you’re falsifying and downplaying the failings of the American government, it’s got to be pretty bad.

Victims of the military grooming program told the Times that they were put in frequent contact with military recruiters who pushed the idea of enlisting to pay for college, with one student saying a male recruiter “still texts me to this day” even well after graduation.

I’m not sure how American parents could possibly read of such things without being intensely creeped out.

Every day we see conservatives mindlessly bleating about “groomers” in the LGBT community trying to turn children into sexual deviants, claiming kids are being “indoctrinated” in school by learning about gay marriage and respect for trans people, but none of them seem to have any problem with the real-life indoctrination and grooming kids are subjected to by the most murderous and depraved institution in the world.

One of the dumbest things happening in mainstream western political discourse right now is the way conservatives are increasingly framing themselves as society’s last bulwark against the normalization of child molestation, something which has been growing reliably less normalized and more aggressively rejected across the entire political spectrum for generations. But sure, pretend the ideology which wants to drag civilization back to the days of the Boy Scouts, the Catholic Church, and fathers reigning supreme over their household (and everyone in it) are the ones protecting us from the rape of children.

The most consequential groomers of our day are not LGBT people and their allies, but the adults who are grooming children to violently enact the will of the most tyrannical regime on earth with the full support of their government. And yet so far it’s been mostly conservatives who we have seen defending the news of mandatory JROTC enrollment in impoverished neighborhoods. They’re not just fine with this kind of indoctrination, they actively support it. Their afterlife will not be pleasant.

THE PENTAGON HAS FAILED AGAIN AND AGAIN, THIS TIME IT IS IT’S FIFTH AUDIT IN A ROW

If The Defense Department Can’t Keep Its Books Straight, How Can It Be Trusted With A Budget Of More Than $800 Billion Per Year?

The Department of Defense recently revealed that it had failed its fifth consecutive audit.

I would not say that we flunked,” said DoD Comptroller Mike McCord, although his office did note that the Pentagon only managed to account for 39 percent of its $3.5 trillion in assets. “The process is important for us to do, and it is making us get better. It is not making us get better as fast as we want.”

The news came as no surprise to Pentagon watchers. After all, the American military has the distinction of being the only American government agency to have never passed a comprehensive audit.

But what did raise some eyebrows was the fact that DoD made almost no progress in this year’s bookkeeping: Of the 27 areas investigated, only seven earned a clean bill of financial health, which McCord described as “basically the same picture as last year.”

Given this accounting disaster, it should come as no surprise that the Pentagon has a habit of bad financial math. This is especially true when it comes to estimating the cost of weapons programs.

The Pentagon’s most famous recent boondoggle is the F-35 program, which has gone over its original budget by $165 billion to date. But examples of overruns abound: As Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jack Reed (D-RI) wrote in 2020, the lead vessel for every one of the Navy’s last eight combatant ships came in at least 10 percent over budget, leading to more than $8 billion in additional costs.

And another major overrun is poised to happen soon, according to a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office.

The Navy plans to expand its ship production in an effort to maintain an edge over China, with a particular focus on a new attack submarine and destroyer ship. The Pentagon has proposed three versions of this plan at an average cost of $27 billion per year between 2023 and 2052, a 10 percent jump from current annual shipbuilding costs.

But the CBO says this is a big underestimate. The independent agency’s math says the average annual cost of this shipbuilding initiative will be over $31 billion, meaning that the Navy is underestimating costs by $120 billion over the program’s life.

As Mark Thompson of the Project on Government Oversight recently noted, these overruns “shouldn’t come as a shock” to anyone who has paid attention to DoD acquisitions in recent years. “But it does suggest a continuing, and stunning, inability by the Navy to get its ducks, and dollars, in a row,” Thompson wrote.

So will the Pentagon manage to get its financial house in order any time soon? It’s possible, if a bit unlikely.

Despite the long odds, a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proposed a bill last year that could help make that happen. The legislation would cut one percent off the top of the budget of any part of the Pentagon that fails an audit. That means that, if the proposal had already passed, 20 of the agency’s 27 auditing units would face a budget cut this year.

Unfortunately, momentum around that bill appears to have fizzled out, leaving the Pentagon’s accountants as the last line of defense. Per Comptroller McCord, the DoD hopes to finally pass an audit by 2027, a mere 14 years after every other agency in the American government blew past that milestone. That may coincide with another historical moment, according to Andrew Lautz of the National Taxpayers Union.

[W]e could reach a $1 trillion defense budget five years sooner [than the CBO estimates], in 2027,” Lautz wrote.