The existential security challenges the United States faces today – such as the deteriorating health of the planet and the spread of nuclear weapons and materials – do not have military solutions. To truly keep Americans safe, policymakers must embrace the reality that the military alone does not safeguard the United States, and make investments in nonmilitary tools. This requires reorienting security spending toward the solutions to today’s and tomorrow’s major security challenges, rather than continuing to buy the weapons of yesterday’s wars.
The United States already spends more than a trillion dollars on security. However, these investments largely do not make Americans or the world more secure. Instead, the U.S. security spending maintains a militarized status quo that jeopardizes the safety of people at home and abroad, from waging endless war to militarizing the United States’ southern border. Drawing down the Department of Defense’s budget will force the military to prioritize missions, plan strategically, and act only as a matter of last resort.
To construct a budget truly in line with today’s contemporary, interconnected security landscape – one where American security is not divisible nor distinct from the security of peoples all over the world – the United States must re-conceptualize national security to be based on “human security.” To build human security, U.S. security spending should focus on four priorities: halting the spread of global authoritarianism, combating the climate crisis, reducing mass inequality, and repudiating militarism. Members of Congress can begin realigning security spending with these true security needs by working toward several goals immediately and in the future, such as cutting the Pentagon’s budget by $200-$350 billion per year over the next ten years, and doubling the State Department’s budget.
Read our new report on reimagining U.S. security spending for the 21st century and beyond, authored by Win Without War’s former Herbert Scoville Jr. Fellow Laila Ujayli, here.
You can download a one page summary of the report here.