Tag Archives: Defense industry

Manufactured Mission: The Iraq & Syria Forever War-Factories, by Danny Sjursen

The US government has perfected the art of never-ending wars conducted for the benefit of the defense industry and the government’s defense bureaucracies. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

It is by now a near cliché in defense-watcher circles to talk about the common peril of “mission creep” in military interventions. Naturally, that’s not translated to America avoiding this tendency – of gradually shifting objectives during the course military missions, until stuck in unplanned long-term quagmires – very much at all. Nevertheless, as if it wasn’t ridiculously obvious enough, the Biden Administration’s Sunday night bombings of allegedly Iranian-backed militia sites in Syria and Iraq illustrate that what’s been unfolding on those adventures is more mission-manufacture than creep.

Almost all mainstream media articles or reports describe the latest strikes as retaliatory responses to rocket or drone strikes on US military bases in one or both countries, and refer to the alleged Iraqi or Syrian culprits as “Iranian-backed.” Seriously, like every time. In so doing, the establishment press uncritically – and one suspects, in many cases, willfully – accepts the US Government’s line and denies any agency (and legitimacy, grievances, or outright identity) to the numerous, diverse, and complex Iraqi and Syrian resistance groups actually doing the shooting. Most reporting on such bombings also offers the impression that these missions – if not the world – began yesterday, omitting almost all backstory, context, or nuance.

The absence of these three critical elements of any effective analysis is, of course, rather convenient for a Washington establishment which would otherwise have its initial illegalities, dissembling justifications, senseless strategies, and inherent indecencies in two wars they’ve championed comprehensively exposed. Overall, it’s the utter ignorance – willful or otherwise – currently characterizing America’s Iraq and Syria policies that’s truly striking. More troubling, though, is the public apathy enabling the nefarious pundit-politician nexus to continue the killing – this, perhaps befitting a nation finally gone mad on the narcotic of responsibility-free forever wars.

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America’s Defense Industry is a Corrupt, Incompetent Mess, by Chris Nagavonski

Like everything else the federal government is heavily involved with, the defense industry has become nothing more than a racket. From Chris Nagavonski at theamericanconservative.com:

In 2016, the Pentagon was confident enough in the troubled F-35 program that it extended the fighter’s projected service life from 2064 to 2070. Now, some of the $80-million aircraft may be written off well before then, despite spending 15 years in development and less than a decade in service.

A few weeks ago, a top general indicated that the Air Force is considering retiring older F-35s instead of retrofitting them with the many upgrades and fixes that have piled up throughout the fighter’s short time in service. The Marine Corps may also be forced to retire some of its F-35s in a few years. A recent Pentagon report warned that the aircraft’s many structural problems, some of which are still unresolved, could mean that older aircraft could cease to be airworthy as soon as 2026. Worse, it’s still not clear whether upgrades which were applied to later production models have actually improved their durability. Many of the Marines’ F-35s could end up serving out less than a quarter of their anticipated lifespan.

In both cases, “older” is a relative term: F-35 production started in 2006. The Marines’ F-35B model entered limited service in 2015, and the Air Force rolled out its F-35A variant just over a year later. And the F-35 isn’t the only expensive toy—almost $1.2 trillion for the entire program—that’s on the chopping block much earlier than originally planned. In February, the Navy announced that it would be decommissioning four of its Littoral Combat Ships: the USS Freedom, Independence, Coronado, and Fort Worth, the oldest of which only entered service in 2008. Meanwhile, the Navy is having trouble identifying a mission for its $16 billion LCS fleet, which will require another $61 billion to maintain and operate throughout its lifespan, assuming the rest of the ships actually remain in service as long as they’re supposed to.

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Congress Again Proves that the Business of Washington is War, by Ron Paul

The defense industry and the War Party always win. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

Libertarian educator Tom Woods famously quipped that “no matter who you vote for you end up with John McCain.” Unfortunately Woods was proven right for about the thousandth time this past week, as Washington again showed us that it is all about war.

First, we learned that if Joe Biden ends up in the White House next month he intends to put a deep state member of the military-industrial complex in charge of the Pentagon. General Lloyd Austin will be only the second Defense Secretary in decades to require a special Senate waiver to serve in that position. Gen. James Mattis under President Trump also needed a waiver, as he had been out of the military less than the required seven years before becoming Defense Secretary.

But the revolving door between active military service and civilian leadership of the Pentagon is perhaps less troubling than the revolving door between the military-industrial complex and leadership of the Defense Department.

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Who Wants a Hot War with Syria and Iran? by Philip M. Giraldi

One group has a vested interest in war—the group that profits from it. From Philip Giraldi at strategic-culture.org:

There is a vast industry in the United States that wants a hot war with Syria and Iran as well as increased confrontation with Russia and China. It is appropriate to refer to it as an industry because it has many components and is largely driven by money, much of which itself comes from Wall Street and major corporations that profit from war related business. Some prefer to refer to this monster as the Military Industrial Complex, but since that phrase was coined by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1961, it has grown enormously, developing a political dimension that includes a majority of congressmen who are addicted to receiving a tithe from the profits from the war economy to finance their own campaigns, permitting them to stay in office indefinitely and retire comfortably to a lobbying position or corporate directorship.

The defense industry also has spawned hundreds of so-called think-tanks whose sole business is promoting war. Some, like the neoconservative Institute for the Study of War, have a clear agenda, but the most powerful rely on euphemisms to conceal what they are doing. They include the American Enterprise Institute and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, both of which promote a hard-line foreign policy directed against Iran and Russia, to include intensified confrontation with both in Syria.

The national media, which also benefits from the same food chain, is also complicit in the process, knowing that the public can easily be deceived by pronouncements coming from alleged experts in Washington. Leading politicians like Senators Lindsay Graham and John McCain lead the pack but there is no shortage of lesser known congressmen to also raise the cry about foreign threats to national security. Regarding developments in Syria, Graham advised last weekend that Trump must attack and destroy the Syrian Air Force or “look weak” while McCain said White House talk of pulling troops out of the country had “emboldened” al-Assad.

Unenlightened self-interest prevails in the White House over the formulation of policy, with the public interest completely lost from sight as high officials jockey in support of the agendas being promoted by those with money and access to those in power. There is no other explanation for the astonishing performance last weekend, which pushed the United States closer to a new war in spite of Trump’s earlier expressed claims that he wants to exit from Syria, a comment that he quickly backed away from under pressure from the Israelis and Congress.

To continue reading: Who Wants a Hot War with Syria and Iran?

There’s No Business Like the Arms Business, by William D. Hartung

The size and reach of the US military contractors is enormous, and most Americans are currently unaware of it. They are also unaware of its outsize influence on Washington and its policies. Here’s a great exposé from William D. Hartung at tomdispatch.com:

When American firms dominate a global market worth more than $70 billion a year, you’d expect to hear about it. Not so with the global arms trade. It’s good for one or two stories a year in the mainstream media, usually when the annual statistics on the state of the business come out.

It’s not that no one writes about aspects of the arms trade. There are occasional pieces that, for example, take note of the impact of U.S. weapons transfers, including cluster bombs, to Saudi Arabia, or of the disastrous dispensation of weaponry to U.S. allies in Syria, or of foreign sales of the costly, controversial F-35 combat aircraft. And once in a while, if a foreign leader meets with the president, U.S. arms sales to his or her country might generate an article or two. But the sheer size of the American arms trade, the politics that drive it, the companies that profit from it, and its devastating global impacts are rarely discussed, much less analyzed in any depth.

So here’s a question that’s puzzled me for years (and I’m something of an arms wonk): Why do other major U.S. exports — from Hollywood movies to Midwestern grain shipments to Boeing airliners — garner regular coverage while trends in weapons exports remain in relative obscurity? Are we ashamed of standing essentially alone as the world’s number one arms dealer, or is our Weapons “R” Us role such a commonplace that we take it for granted, like death or taxes?

The numbers should stagger anyone. According to the latest figures available from the Congressional Research Service, the United States was credited with more than half the value of all global arms transfer agreements in 2014, the most recent year for which full statistics are available. At 14%, the world’s second largest supplier, Russia, lagged far behind. Washington’s “leadership” in this field has never truly been challenged. The U.S. share has fluctuated between one-third and one-half of the global market for the past two decades, peaking at an almost monopolistic 70% of all weapons sold in 2011. And the gold rush continues. Vice Admiral Joe Rixey, who heads the Pentagon’s arms sales agency, euphemistically known as the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, estimates that arms deals facilitated by the Pentagon topped $46 billion in 2015, and are on track to hit $40 billion in 2016.

To be completely accurate, there is one group of people who pay remarkably close attention to these trends — executives of the defense contractors that are cashing in on this growth market. With the Pentagon and related agencies taking in “only” about $600 billion a year — high by historical standards but tens of billions of dollars less than hoped for by the defense industry — companies like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and General Dynamics have been looking to global markets as their major source of new revenue.

To continue reading; There’s No Business Like the Arms Business