Release Date: August 2, 1996
The Wisdom Fund, P. O. Box 2723, Arlington, VA 22202
Website: -- Press Contact: Enver Masud

Islamic Fundamentalism $500 Billion Bogey

Welfare "reform" expected to save $55 billion in six years

WASHINGTON, DC, August 2 -- Following the collapse of the Soviet Union former Defense Secretary McNamara, in his 1989 testimony before the Senate Budget Committee, stated that defense spending could safely be cut in half over five years. For the Pentagon it was a simple choice: either find new enemies, or cut defense spending.

Topping the list of potential new global bogeymen were the Yellow Peril, the alleged threat to American economic security emanating from East Asia, and the so-called Green Peril (green representing Islam). The Pentagon selected "Islamic fundamentalism" and "rogue states" as the new bogeymen (see The Green Peril: Creating The Islamic Fundamentalist Threat by Leon T. Hadar, and Rogue States and Nuclear Outlaws by Michael Klare).

Unlike Christian fundamentalism, defined in The Fundamentals, a 12-volume collection of essays written in the period 1910-15 by British and American scholars, there is no doctrine of Islamic fundamentalism, and the six "rogue states" -- Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, North Korea -- have a combined annual military budget of $15 billion. Nevertheless, an extra $437 billion, the difference between what Mr. McNamara recommended and what will have been spent through 1996, was pumped into the Pentagon budget to defend the US from these bogeymen. With interest at seven percent this amounts to over $500 billion from 1990 through 1996. The chart below, based upon information prepared by the Center for Defense Information, shows defense spending in 1996 dollars.

To put this spending in perspective, the $266 billion US defense budget for 1996 accounts for about 37 percent of global military expenditures. Russia, Japan, and China each will spend about $80 billion, $42 billion, and $7 billion. The US budget for covert operations alone is over $29 billion!

Perhaps an even better perspective is gained by comparing the unnecessary $500 billion pumped into defense spending with the welfare "reform" bill which President Clinton is expected to sign. The welfare "reform" bill is expected to save $55 billion over the next six years.

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