Opening the Floodgates for Profiteers of War, by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies

You’ve got to admire the ingenuity and chutzpah of the big defense contractors. From Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies at consortiumnews.com:

If it passes, the Reed/Inhofe amendment invoking wartime emergency spending powers will give the merchants of death what they are looking for, write Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed in 2019. (U.S. Army, Patrick Enright)

If the powerful leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK), have their way, Congress will soon invoke wartime emergency powers to build up even greater stockpiles of Pentagon weapons.

The amendment is supposedly designed to facilitate replenishing the weapons the United States has sent to Ukraine, but a look at the wish list contemplated in this amendment reveals a different story.

Reed and Inhofe’s idea is to tuck their wartime amendment into the FY2023 National Defense Appropriation Act (NDAA) that will be passed during the lame-duck session before the end of the year. The amendment sailed through the Armed Services Committee in mid-October and, if it becomes law, the Department of Defense will be allowed to lock in multi-year contracts and award non-competitive contracts to arms manufacturers for Ukraine-related weapons.

If the Reed/Inhofe amendment is really aimed at replenishing the Pentagon’s supplies, then why do the quantities in its wish list vastly surpass those sent to Ukraine?

Let’s do the comparison:

  • The current “star” of U.S. military aid to Ukraine is Lockheed Martin’s HIMARS rocket system, the same weapon U.S. Marines used to help reduce much of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, to rubble in 2017. The U.S. has sent 38 HIMARS systems to Ukraine, but Senators Reed and Inhofe plan to “reorder” 700 of them, with 100,000 rockets, which could cost up to $4 billion.
  • Another artillery weapon provided to Ukraine is the M777 155 mm howitzer. To “replace” the 142 M777s sent to Ukraine, the senators plan to order 1,000 of them, at an estimated cost of $3.7 billion, from BAE Systems.
  • HIMARS launchers can also fire Lockheed Martin’s long-range (up to 190 miles) MGM-140 ATACMS missiles, which the U.S. has not sent to Ukraine. In fact, the U.S. has only ever fired 560 of them, mostly at Iraq in 2003. The even longer-range “Precision Strike Missile,” formerly prohibited under the INF Treaty renounced by former President Donald Trump, will start replacing the ATACMS in 2023, yet the Reed-Inhofe Amendment would buy 6,000 ATACMS, 10 times more than the U.S. has ever used, at an estimated cost of $600 million.

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