America's Never-Ending State Of War | KERA News

America's Never-Ending State Of War

Aug 15, 2016

The United States spends over $600 billion on the military and defense. That’s more than the next seven countries combined and 10 times the budget of the State Department.

Today on Think, Krys Boyd talked with Georgetown University law professor Rosa Brooks about how the U.S. has blurred the line between war and peace time. She’s the author of “How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon.

The KERA Interview

Rosa Brooks on

… the growth of the military:

“There are more members of military marching bands than there are of foreign service officers of the State Department. The State Department cannot compete when the military moves into areas. It’s just too tiny and too underfunded. And the less it does, the more political leaders turn to the military to take on the tasks that state and USAID once would have done. And the more the military does, the less anybody needs those civilian agencies.”

… how the military is like Wal-Mart:

“Instead of having to go to five different stores, if you’re saying, ‘Gee, what can we do in Afghanistan?’ And you’re thinking well we want to do some agricultural reform and we need to fight these remaining Taliban groups here and there, and we also need to train judges and parliamentarians and so forth, you can go to the military and say, ‘Just get all this stuff done.’ And the military will say, ‘OK, we’ll get all that stuff done.’ They may not do it that well. It may not be the highest quality, not because they’re not smart people, but because this is not what military people have been trained to do.”  

 … the casualties of drone warfare:

“The Obama administration said that in almost eight years there have only been a handful of civilian casualties, 150, something like that. Other groups, journalists and human rights groups, say that number is vastly higher - possibly even in the thousands. In explaining that your either have to think that the government is lying, which I don’t think is what’s going on, or you have to assume that when the Obama administration and journalists and NGOs talk about civilians they mean something that’s very, very different. And I think this is the profound problem with the process: That at the moment we don’t really know what counts as war anymore. We don’t know who counts as any enemy.”  

… why it’s difficult to cut military spending:

“It sometimes seems like everybody in Congress has either a military base or a weapons manufacturing industry in their district, which in turn means that everybody wants that [military spending] to continue because it’s good for their constituents. It’s jobs for their constituents, which makes it really, really hard for the military to change.”