The true cost of the military-industrial complex.

The true cost of the military-industrial complex.


This video is sponsored by Brilliant. It’s time to talk about the elephant in
the room. The single most polluting industry in the world. The military. Specifically,
the U.S. military, because the U.S. war machine currently has a yearly budget of over $700
billion, which dwarfs the military spending of the next 8 countries combined in 2018.
The U.S. military is a behemoth, and the environmental consequences of its massive size and global
presence are equally immense. Indeed, if the American military was a country it would rank
47th, right in between Peru and Portugal, for highest global greenhouse gas emissions,
and that’s only based on military fuel use. Despite this, we’re very rarely exposed
to the idea of the U.S. military-industrial complex as a possible contributor to climate
change. Instead, individual actions, like taking shorter showers or composting food
waste, seem to be the primary push of the environmental movement. So the big question
is: what are the consequences of this massive U.S. military machine? And ultimately, what
are the connections between militarism and climate change? The environmental cost of the U.S. military
is so large because the country has continuously piled money into the Department of Defence
ever since the 1980s Reagan Era push for military spending transformed the world’s biggest
lender into the biggest debtor. A recently approved defense budget of $738 billion for
the 2020 fiscal year only cements this lust for U.S. military growth around the globe.
And to be clear, the U.S. military is a global entity. It has established roughly 800 military
bases in 80 countries around the world according to David Vine, author of Base Nation. To put
that in perspective, all other countries combined have established roughly 70 foreign bases.
So, the U.S. military is gargantuan, and to fuel that machine, they need, well, fuel.
From 2001 to 2017, the U.S. military emitted an estimated 1.2 billion metric tons of CO2
equivalent according to the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. That’s
the same as putting an additional 257 million cars, or roughly the current amount of passenger
cars currently in operation, on the road in the U.S. for a whole year. From Humvees running
at 4 miles per gallon, or gas-guzzling F-22 fighter jets, the machines of war that the
Department of Defense purchases and maintains require a lot of fuel. In the realm of 85
million barrels of fuel in 2017. But the U.S. military pollution doesn’t stop and end
at emissions. The military has blazed a sharp trail of environmental and chemical pollution
across the world, racking up 39,000 contaminated sites according to a Newsweek interview with
the former head of environmental programs at the Pentagon. 143 of the Superfund sites
in the United States are military bases, and 900 of the 1344 total sites are areas that
previously supported military needs according to the same Newsweek interview. At Camp Lejeune
in North Carolina, for example, the drinking water servicing over 170,000 people is so
polluted with cancer-causing chemical solvents like trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene
that it’s been called “the worst example of water contamination this world has ever
seen.” In short, the U.S. military has a long track record of pollution and emissions
that often is tacitly accepted by otherwise environmentally-minded people in the name
of national defense and military preparedness. But let’s be clear here, the majority of
the wars the U.S. has fought, and the massive military structure it’s built has rarely
been in the name of peace or safety. More often than not it’s centered around profit
and control. The United States has a long history of using military power to assert
dominance over potentially strategic or profitable entities. Like in Panama in 1989, when George
H. W. Bush deployed 25,000 troops to oust the military leader and previous CIA “asset,”
General Noriega, who began acting against U.S. interests. In Noriega’s stead, Bush
propped up Guillermo Endara, who was much more loyal to the U.S. global agenda and willing
to allow the U.S. to maintain control over the Panama Canal. Or in 1973 when the United
States supported a coup to overthrow democratically-elected Chilean socialist leader Salvador Allende,
replacing him with ruthless dictator Augusto Pinochet, who in the months following his
rise to power imprisoned, tortured and killed thousands of supposed leftist-sympathizers
in order to establish an economy that a New York Times reporter called “a banker’s
delight.” Or the U.S. backed indiscriminate slaughter of East Timorese by Indonesian forces,
or the multi-decade war razing Iraq to the ground to protect the flow of fuel from Middle
Eastern oil fields into American cars. The same oil fields, which Vice President Dick
Cheney’s former company, Halliburton, secured a noncompetitive contract for up to seven
billion dollars to rebuild. The list drags on. The point here is this: in many cases,
the U.S. military has guzzled millions of barrels of fuel and killed thousands to establish
and maintain control of profitable international interests. One of the most decorated marines
in U.S. history, Major General Smedley Butler rams this reality home in his book, War is
a Racket: “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that
period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street
and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.” Ironically, the Department of Defence has
released reports characterizing climate change as a security risk, but of course, their solution
is not to scale back their own emissions-intensive operations but instead it’s doing more of
the same. So, when we’re trying to understand the connections between environmentalism and
demilitarization, we have to recognize a simple reality: War is always an environmental hazard.
There is no such thing as a responsible military or green war. It is, in fact, irresponsible
to suggest that it’s possible to “green the military,” as Elizabeth Warren has proposed.
Though it is admirable to try to find solutions within a corrupt and irredeemable system,
the 2018 IPCC report has made clear that we have no time for slow change, and small reforms
prevent us from focusing on and investing in the larger, more radical changes that need
to happen. Demilitarization is a lofty goal; in the United States, it is not unreasonable
to feel despair about the possibility of ever demilitarizing a country with such a fetish
for violence and control. But dire circumstances require radical solutions. Keep in mind that
even if the current military budget is slashed in half, the U.S. would still spend more than
double the amount China does. So, the military-industrial complex is beyond bloated. And as we look
towards a future marked by climate change, to me it’s clear where taxpayer money needs
to go. If the United States can pour $4.79 trillion into the wars in Iraq, Syria, and
Afghanistan, they certainly can extract themselves from a fossil-fuel centric economy. The money
doesn’t need to be piled into the over-polluting and violent machine that is the U.S. military,
it instead needs to be invested in strong, publically-favored initiatives like the Green
New Deal, which would supply dignified low-carbon jobs to thousands, reinvest in the U.S.’s
crumbling infrastructure, and establish an economy based around care. The gift-giving season is upon us, and usually
that means a lot of material-centric presents that either get left in the closet or thrown
out. Because, let’s face it, finding the right present to show your love is hard, especially
if you are trying to avoid waste or create less of an impact. Luckily Brilliant has made
it easy this year. You can now give the gift of learning with a Brilliant Premium Subscription.
If someone you know loves problem-solving or learning scientific concepts then this
is a great non-materialistic gift. Brilliant is a perfect way to nurture curiosity, build
confidence, and develop problem-solving skills crucial to school, job interviews, or your
career. And Brilliant’s thought-provoking content breaks up complexities into bite-sized
understandable chunks that will lead you from curiosity to mastery. So if you’re looking for ideas for presents
this year, consider heading over to brilliant dot org slash OCC to grab a gift subscription
to help your loved ones spark a lifelong love of learning. Hey Everyone! Charlie here. Thanks for making
it all the way to the end of the video. If you’re interested in supporting the videos
I make for this channel, consider backing me on Patreon. Even a dollar a month goes
a long way to helping me out. Again, thanks for watching, and I’ll see you in two weeks!

Posts created 40981

83 thoughts on “The true cost of the military-industrial complex.

  1. What are your thoughts on the relationship between militarism and the environment? Do you think "greening" the military is a solution?

    Note: I failed to adequately explore the single biggest cost of the military-industrial complex: the loss of human lives. Watching the piece again, I wish I had done a better job of weaving the ramifications of violence into this video.

  2. I swear, you always manage to reveal things in our everyday lives which I would never think about when thinking what are the factors harming the environment. I look forward to learning more about what other environmentally damaging industries I'm unaware of.

  3. That will never happen. The us always ruina everything conservation related. Us poor individuals cannot do anything for this problem

  4. should i be doing homework?
    yes.
    am i going to watch a video about how the us military is causing climate change even though i live in australia?
    yes.
    (also the homework is an essay about world war I…)

  5. Every day I grow an even stronger opinion on how the US is one of the worst countries that have ever existed.

    Edit: quick reminder US lifestyle is not the standard for the rest of the world and your country no longer means freedom

  6. People typically only see the helplessness they have as a taxpayer toward their contribution to the military industrial complex. Purposefully lowering income to reduce tax debt no longer works due to the societal control of resources. The silver lining may be that becoming a corporation and wisely using the system of tax breaks, credits, and etc. may be a viable way to succeed in business, make effective changes for the better, and legally and ethically reduce your personal input to the military's coerced demands. Capitalism has done the lobbying for us, learn how to use it.

  7. It’s crazy how this country has so much money for military. Yet there is starving and developing countries that need real help not an AK and a dictator brought by the USA

  8. The US military acts as a global police force and keeps relative peace in the world and therefore stable countries and economies follow.

    Investors love stable countries and economies because it makes their investments safer.

    Having investment in your country is usually a positive thing because it creates high paying jobs, new industries and generally improves the standard of living.

    If you want the US military to reduce its size the its likely that will create a power vacuum which often results in large conflicts that determine who the new world power/powers will be.

    A perfect example of this would be the power vacuum created by the end of WW2 which caused the Cold War between the Soviets and the US, with proxy wars being fought for influence.

    If you want stability and economic prosperity (which tends to lead to more awareness of climate change) then you should support a global police force like the US military.

    If you want to create a power vacuum and have the likes of China and Russia invading their neighbours illegally with no one to stop them, then you should support the demilitarisation of the US military.

    Simple.

  9. The military industry is wrong. They should put armies together (for example us and Canada) to make them more effective and to save money. Then the US wouldn't need a base in Canada and vice versa.

  10. 💯 I agree with this, likely being the only way for the problem of modern climate ect to even be addressed is through systemic infrastructure changes. Sadly it will only happen if enough people push it to happen.

  11. The collapse of the Soviet block would have been a good opportunity to stop this madness, but nah, business as usual ever since. What a shame. If we don't stop it, the myth of the forever war will eat us all.

  12. Not the subject of the video, but the animation in these videos is beyond awesome and i'd love to get an in depth look on how you make these videos pop so vibrantly!

  13. They need to push and fund the green new deal? there is a reason why the people who created the Green New Deal tried to backpedal and say they didn't release it and said it was fake even tho it was still on their website. the green new deal is utterly useless and full of bs

  14. Glad to know the numbers and giving us an opinion of the impact of the military. Can’t wait for change in leadership and get new changes. It’ll take years if not decades for it to happen (which will be too late). But hopefully the other industries will make the move to being greener first.

  15. militaries are piece of shit and should be banished. at maximum there should be a common world military to fight against the terrorists because other than that it doesn't make any sense. why do you need to defend against someone who are also trying to defend themselves. dumb shit dumb people. sacrificing their lives and of innocent people and other living beings for no practical reason.

  16. I'd like to know what is the purpose of all this… i mean, do you really need hundreds of military aircrafts, tanks and weapons? Idk compared to other countries it seems like the US only want to show his big d***. Great video btw !!

  17. Although I totally agree with the principles in this video, as someone in the military I can tell you there is a very different immediate priority. The strategy is shifting right now from a counterinsurgency fight to a peer to peer fight in a European/Asian or even global theater. The military might feel bloated (and it certainly is) but that’s because we have to be prepared to fight not only a competitive war, but a dominate war, against China, NK, Russia, Iran, and other factions. A total war might feel unlikely rn but we’ve seen how erratic our president is, and you never know who the next leader will be for our adversaries. Climate change is certainly a massive issue that will effect almost everyone on the planet and the military has a huge role in it. But there’s a lot of nuance in this issue, and I don’t think slashing our budget in half is the answer. If we withdraw too abruptly from our global control that will leave a power vacuum I don’t think anyone wants to see filled by an aggressive China or Russia

  18. "Economy based on care", laughable sentiment.
    Efficient and effective economies are based on want.
    A string and well-trained military ensures an environment where "wants" are not controlled by others.
    The West only has peace because of the US military, to lose that edge would be self-destructive.

  19. I work on a military base as an environmental engineer. I find it ironic that my job is to protect the base from getting fined by environmental inspectors and trying to comply to federal laws, but it's OK for us to continue this trajectory of wasteful spending and environmental "protection" of other countries? It's just an endless positive feedback loop

  20. Why not make the military funding at the minimum NATO needs, making the military smaller, and making the system less controlling, corrupt, and violent (maximum demilitarization while staying in NATO) while also working on more fuel efficient equipment?

  21. These videos are so interesting to watch – how are they not more popular?? I wish these topics got covered more often in mainstream media

  22. I was attached to a DDG and anything we didn't have room for we threw overboard. Whole pallets of paper, half of the perfectly good food we had on the refer decks went overboard to make room for new food. The military is incredibly wasteful and we still always complained about not having enough money.

  23. Americans (particularly republicans) are always complaining about high taxes. A ridiculously easy thing to cut back on would be the military. But no. Because that would be DaNgerOUs and make us look wEaK. A global intertwined economy is what is keeping peace in most places. Not guns.

  24. [TL:DR Good video, but its a little too simple. As long as there is threat of war, Military is a necessity. But we should strive for a greener military]

    First of all, fantastic production value, I think this has been your best video so far such good quality.
    I'll start by saying that I believe that climate change is real and poses a threat to humans and our way of life. But I think this video has a lot of oversimplifications that don't portray the reality of the situation the military faces.

    1. I think that the military industrial complex tends to treat the pentagon like a monolithic bureaucracy that wants to goes crazy on buying weapons for the sake of buying weapons. A fairer representation would be trying a competition between one group that is trying to develop and sell weapons and another that is trying to make sure the servicemen and women get the tool they need to do their job and get home safely.
    2. The 2015 pentagon report you refer to 6:16 was never intended to make the military greener. It was created to study how it would affect the way the Military would have operate. More precisely, its a to make recommendations for (i) what kind of military operations to anticipate (ii) how to design the OCO budget ('overseas contingency operations' – its how much money the pentagon thinks it will need in case conflict breaks out). In all fairness the people who conducted that report know that their job is not to suggest climate change policy-its not their job-their job was to think of how it could impact current operations. That's probably why it seems like their answer was 'more of the same'

    Overall, I think that demilitarization is simply not possible. I think that there ways of adopting greener practices, using less fossil-fuels, better disposal of dangerous materials.
    But the unfortunate fact of the world is that war will be part of our way of life for the foreseeable future. The job of the US military is not to make the world greener, although it should definitely take part in that process. The primary responsibility of the military is to maintain national security and protect the US and its allies and partners all around the world–this is a job that becoming harder and harder because it has entered a competition with other countries that frankly do not care as much about the environment. For example, Russia is already preparing for an arctic with less and less ice: both because it opens so much territory and resources, and because it gives Russia more places to set up naval and air force stations. I'm all for a greener US military, but at the end of the day the military will not/could not allow itself it be handicapped in an arctic conflict.

    Really hoping people hop in to discuss.

  25. I would send less money to the military but lets be honest, without military power, there is no peace. Some country and dictatorship will try to grow…

  26. Unfortunately, the elephant in the room that this video fails to address is the fact that the US military budget is so large precisely because the US took on the role of "global policeman" in the post-1945 era. China and Russia do not ensure the safety of the global sea lanes. Germany and Japan, the third and fourth largest economies in the world, have been prevented from military investment for decades, which is the majority of the cause of their economic successes.

    The world relies upon the US to keep the peace and keep the oil and goods flowing. Until and unless the rest of the world is going to shoulder a more proportionate share of that burden, we are going to have a bloated military and be the world's biggest bully.

    The primary reason why China is expanding their military capability and global diplomatic and economic ties is precisely because they understand the US cannot continue in this role indefinitely, and China's economy is now the factory of the world.

    In the Trump era, where the US is unwisely abandoning diplomacy and turning inward upon its own seething hatred for difference—and how ironic that is, in the world's most diverse nation—our global influence is catastrophically compromised. The Pax Americana, such as it was, has come to a screeching halt, brought about by exhaustion and myopia.

  27. Nuclear weapons, depleted uranium, countless bullet shells, landmines, regular fire bomb making chemicals. Yeah, it's a A LOT.

  28. The order that I would scale back would be to close all non essential bases first, and then at the same time change all existing bases to more low waste, energy efficient daily practices. And finally only the essential bases and training facilities would get high amounts of green retrofitting, while the medium-need bases would focus on eliminating themselves through peace efforts and restorative justice efforts in whatever region they've caused harm in.

  29. I never had thought about this before, that all those machines can contribute to pollution. I guess it shows how it’s hidden from us.

  30. I appreciate that you've touched a topic many environmentalists are either ignorant of or afraid of discussing.
    The super-bloated US military needs to radically scale-back if we are going to have progress healing the climate.
    I agree that money and effort would be better spent on "green" projects rather than the endless militarism. I disagree that more government programs are the solution; I think we can find free-market solutions rather than opting for violence (i.e. legislation).

  31. i'm curious to know what other people think about this: why do you suppose the media is so stuck on telling people to take shorter showers and not use straws to correct climate change instead of telling people what companies are the worst polluters, how they pollute, and alternative consumer goods that will prevent them from having to support corporate polluters? what other things do you think the media could be doing instead of harping at individuals for making choices that they ultimately have no control over?

  32. I usually really like your videos but this one is just bad and poorly researched. The climate effect of the behemoth that is the U.S military really does need to be discussed, but if you're going to do so then you also need to explore why and how the U.S military came to be this big. You claim the U.S military should should downsize but fail to discuss any global repercussions of doing so.

  33. The military is dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into "green" technology but I guess you left that out since it doesnt fit the narrative

  34. Thank you for his, this has to be one of the best videos ever on this platform. US military industrial complex is one of the biggest threats to the entire planet.

  35. The US does not depend on Middle East for Oil post the 1980's. I do understand that the Military is a heavy climate issue. Yet, there are situations where people are fight Terrorism and real issues.

  36. Let’s talk about edible insects! If it helps we’re a military owned company so … you know… relevant to this video I guess?

  37. Wow. How did this never occur to me? I did some researchof my own, and found out that my home, the UK, is far from perfect too. We still spend 2% of our GDP on our defence because NATO tells us to.

  38. I feel like you're giving a very black and white view on why the US military does a lot of the things it does. For example, the reason why the budget is so high and the US has so many military bases is because hardly any NATO members contribute the required military budget for being a NATO members. Therefore the US fills in the gaps.

  39. I can understand the idea that US military budget is overblown and could be better spent elsewhere. However for what current policy makers expect from the US military to achieve the budget is barley enough. I think the conversation needs to move in the direction of us policy makers need to scale back their foreign policy goals if they seek to cut the military budget. It’s tough conversation we need to have at home and have to weigh the benefits and cons of such actions.

  40. I will never understand why someone wouldn't believe in climate change when the only ones who claim it doesn't exist are those in positions of power who depend on exploiting the environment for financial benefit.

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