The US’s wars are the main cause of its debt crisis!

06/08/2023 by

The US’s wars are the main cause of its debt crisis!

Adnan Akfırat

The United States, which is spreading chaos around the world, is having a crisis at home. Leaving China, Russia, and Türkiye aside, US President Joe Biden urged Congress to accept a deal that would raise the government’s borrowing ceiling and prevent a catastrophic US default. After much wrangling, negotiators from the Democratic and Republican parties reached an agreement on May 28. A major scandal was thus averted.

If the deal passes Congress, the US government will be able to continue borrowing until after the presidential election in November 2024. 

The US: The world’s most indebted country

In February 2023, the total US debt was $31.4 trillion. This makes it the most indebted country in the world. But that’s not the only problem: The debt ceiling imposed by the US Congress is also $31.4 trillion. If the debt ceiling is not raised, the US government will not be able to cover any expenditure, including civil servants’ salaries.

Any change to the debt ceiling requires the approval of a majority in both houses of Congress. The deep divisions within the US ruling classes make it impossible to secure a simple majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Therefore, the US is often in danger of “defaulting”. 

America’s current debt crisis is not due to bigotry between Democrats and Republicans. The US treasury is like a bottomless cauldron, running a trillion-dollar deficit every year and borrowing constantly. Since 2000, the debt has exceeded the country’s Gross Domestic Product. In 2020, the highest ratio of 134 percent was reached. 

The developed capitalist countries with foreign debt greater than GDP are the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Japan, Italy, and Spain. However, the US debt is even higher than the debt of these 6 countries combined. (1)

The US borrowing for ‘new crusade’

Why is the US, the pole of capitalism, borrowing like crazy?

According to a report by the Watson Institute of Brown University, the 7th oldest university in the US, compiling the last 20 years of US military spending, the cost of US wars from fiscal 2001 to fiscal 2022 is $8 trillion. (2)

8 trillion dollars! 8 times Türkiye’s national income. It is the sum of the goods and services produced by Germany and Japan in a year. 

This enormous amount of money was spent on “Overseas Contingency Operations” as the US Department of Defense calls them. That is, to bring blood and tears to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. In other words, for the “New Crusade”! Let us remember: In 2001 when George Bush launched the attack on Afghanistan, he said, “This crusade, this war against terrorism, will take some time.” (3)

Yeah, it took a while! It’s been going on for 22 years. The Pentagon has spent 2 trillion 885 billion dollars directly on these attacks. The US State Department has spent 189 billion dollars on the “Crusade”. This point is important. It is considered a boastful virtue to be in cozy relations with the US State Department, one of the two pillars of the US imperialist war machine. At this point, do not forget that Mehmet Simsek, who is now put in charge of the Turkish economy, once received a salary from the US State Department! 

It is the famous “finance capital” that is benefiting from the financing of the war: The interest paid on the debts borrowed to cover these expenditures amounted to 1 trillion 87 billion dollars!

The US government has also increased spending on the Department of Homeland Security to record levels to avoid the problems that the destruction it is bringing to West Asia will create at home. About one-eighth of all war, spending has been used to control the US citizen. The estimated amount is 1 trillion 187 billion dollars. 

The Watson Institute’s calculation does not include the costs of the war in Ukraine. According to official US sources, $115 billion was spent in a year and a half to maintain the neo-Nazi government in Ukraine. (4)

Are you aware of the death toll?

The Watson Institute makes estimates of both US war expenses and combat deaths. According to the most recent report, which was released on March 15, 2023, 937,000 people had perished as a result of the US Crusade over the previous 20 years. Out of the nearly one million casualties, 689,000 were “civilians and insurgents”.

There were 15,262 US military fatalities.

These figures are based on official records. The actual loss of life is estimated to be four times higher, amounting to four million people. Oxford University Professor Neta Crawford, author of the report, comments: “But there is a larger toll, known as indirect death. Although it is difficult to know the exact number, perhaps as many as twice or three or four times that number may have died due to indirect causes such as displacement, poor access to safe drinking water, healthcare, and preventable diseases. On the other hand, some indicators of health have improved in Iraq, including child and infant mortality. ” (5)

American socialist scholar David Michael Smith’s new book, “Endless Genocides: Mass Murders in the History of the United States Empire” (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2023), describes how the US Empire has been responsible for nearly 300 million deaths since its founding. (6)

The elites in the US begin to revolt

On May 20, Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs, one of the most respected economists in the US and an advisor to the Secretaries General of the United Nations, published an article entitled “America’s Wars and the Debt Crisis”. The article was published on the website “Common Dreams”, a collective of American intellectuals. The article takes the US military-industrial complex to task. The fact that a “well-established” figure like Prof. Sachs writes in this style and with such clarity heralds a new situation. 

Prof. Sachs writes, “Yet facing down the military-industrial lobby is the vital first step to putting America’s fiscal house in order…To surmount the debt crisis, America needs to stop feeding the Military-Industrial Complex, the most powerful lobby in Washington. (7) 

Recalling US President Eisenhower’s famous speech on January 17, 1961, in which he warned the American people and state against the Military-Industrial Complex, Prof. Sachs points out that the US arms monopolies have been pushing the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and now Ukraine since 2000. 

Prof. Sachs strongly believes that the first step out of the debt spiral is to cut military spending: “America’s annual military spending is now around $900 billion, roughly 40% of the world’s total, and greater than the next 10 countries combined. U.S. military spending in 2022 was triple that of China. According to Congressional Budget Office, the military outlays for 2024-2033 will be a staggering $10.3 trillion on the current baseline. A quarter or more of that could be avoided by ending America’s wars of choice, closing down many of America’s 800 or so military bases around the world, and negotiating new arms control agreements with China and Russia.” 

And he explains another reason for the increase in military spending: “The U.S. has also unilaterally abandoned key arms control agreements. In 2002, the U.S. unilaterally walked out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. And rather than promote nuclear disarmament—as the U.S. and other nuclear powers are required to do under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—the Military-Industrial Complex has sold Congress on plans to spend more than $600 billion by 2030 to “modernize” the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”

Prof. Sachs also uses the Taiwan crisis to warn the public against over-armament. He says that a war with China would bankrupt the US. 

‘It is fatal to be a friend of the US!’

Prof. Sachs also stirs the conscience of US intellectuals: “While America’s wars of choice have been awful for America, they have been far greater disasters for countries that America purports to be saving. As Henry Kissinger famously quipped, ‘To be an enemy of the United States can be dangerous, but to be a friend is fatal.’”

Let this 100-year-old Kissinger’s aphorism be a warning to those who aspire to be friends of the United States!

The village in sight!

Under the dollar hegemony, US borrowing took the form of forcing subjugated countries to pay for US spending. As a result, it was not scared to borrow. However, the developing countries’ assault on the global economy, as well as the victories obtained through armed struggle against US imperialism, have altered the situation. The United States can no longer play the old game with its share of the global economy dwindling and the dollar’s reign eroding.

This condition is destroying the United States. Prof. Victor Davis Hanson, a prominent specialist at the Hoover Institution, one of the most influential decision-making institutions in the United States is warning. He is a military historian, and a staunch backer of the strikes on Afghanistan and Iraq, now terrified: “At peak woke, our reign of terror is beginning to lose momentum because its continuation would erode all the work of 247 years of American progress and sacrifice.” (8)

Colonialist America, enriched by the wars it wages against humanity, is heading for its final collapse through those same wars. The collapse of American imperialism is inevitable. In the brilliant words of our wise ancestors: “There are no guides needed for the villages in sight!”










Adnan Akfırat

Adnan Akfirat is former representative to China and Member of International Relations Bureau of the  Patriotic Party of Türkiye; Chairman of Turkish-Chinese Business Development and Friendship Association (Turk-Cin Is Der); visitor researcher of Shanghai University Turkish Studies Center and Shihezi University Silk Road Research Center. Mr. Akfirat has been living in Shanghai since 2011.