EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

Two days after the United States withdrew from Afghanistan, the House Armed Services Committee voted to set the Pentagon’s 2022 budget. Given that US officials claim to be winding down decades-long wars, even maintaining current levels of military spending would seem a mystifying choice. But the committee didn’t just vote to maintain current spending levels. It voted to increase them by a whopping $24 billion.

Which prompts the question: Are we spending this money because we need to, even though our military budget is already higher than those of the next 11 largest countries combined? Or are there other incentives at play?

Ties between the government and the private sector—what President Dwight D. Eisenhower famously called the “military-industrial complex”—form the foundations of our national defense. Since 9/11, between one-third and half of the nearly $14 trillion the Pentagon has spent went to for-profit defense contractors. Dozens of members of Congress and their spouses own millions of dollars’ worth of stock in those companies.

Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.