Tag Archives: Military contractors

Business as Usual at the Pentagon, by William J. Astore

You can’t tell the players without a scorecard, especially when they’re constantly going in and out a revolving door. From William J. Astore at antiwar.com:

The revolving door between major defense contractors and the Pentagon is spinning ever more rapidly, notes FP: Foreign Policy. Here’s a telling report from last week:

McCain says enough, but does he mean it? During a hearing Thursday to vet several Trump administration nominees for top Pentagon jobs, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he was tired of seeing defense industry executives go to work in the Pentagon.

But he indicated he’ll support the Mark Esper, chief lobbyist for for Raytheon – the fourth largest defense contractor in the United States – for secretary of the Army, telling Esper his concerns “grew out of early consultations I had with the administration about potential nominations, including yours.” McCain added that “it was then that I decided I couldn’t support further nominees with that background, beyond those we had already discussed.”

Lots of defense industry execs already at work. But at least one more will soon pass through McCain’s Senate Armed Services Committee, however. At some point in the coming weeks, John C. Rood, senior vice president for Lockheed Martin International will testify for the under secretary of defense for policy job, the third highest position in the Defense Department.

The Senate has already approved former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan to be deputy defense secretary – the second highest position in the Pentagon – and Ellen Lord, the former chief executive officer of Textron Systems, to be undersecretary of defense for acquisition.

In short, there are no fresh thinkers at the Pentagon: just men and women drawn mainly from the corporate world or from the ranks of military retirees (or both). They’re hired because they know the system – but also because they believe in it. They’re not going to rock the boat. They believe in “staying the course.”

The result is a system with no new ideas. Consider Afghanistan. Sixteen years after the initial invasion after 9/11, American forces are still bogged down there. As FP: Foreign Policy reports today, we finally have an official number for the latest mini-surge orchestrated by retired Generals John Kelly and James Mattis:

We have a surge number. After months of tapdancing around exactly how many more U.S. troops are are heading to Afghanistan, Monday’s request asks for $1.2 billion to support an additional 3,500 US troops in Afghanistan.

To continue reading: Business as Usual at the Pentagon

Follow the money trail for source of ‘Russian threat’ paranoia, by Neil Clark

The formula for the New Cold War is the same as for the War on Terrorism, which is the same as for the Old Cold War: conjure up an existential threat and spend gobs of money on defense and intelligence. The apocalyptic battle never arrives, but defense and intelligence contractors make out like bandits. From Niel Clark at rt.com:

You’d have to have been locked in a wardrobe if you live in the West not to have heard ominous phrases like ‘The Russian threat’, ‘Russian aggression in Europe’ and ‘Russia set to invade Poland/Estonia/ Ukraine/Finland’.

Certain people are trying to scare us witless about Russia and the ‘threat’ the country apparently poses. The hysteria reminds one to the build up to the Iraq war, when we were warned every day about the ‘threat’ of Saddam’s deadly WMDs, which – surprise, surprise – turned out not to exist.

Now, we can talk for hours about grand, highfalutin theories in the field of geopolitics and international relations in attempts to explain why this is happening.

But ‘follow the money’ trail is all we really have to do. Ask yourself who benefits financially from all this scaremongering and then you’ll understand it.

This week, The Intercept revealed how US defense contractors have been telling investors that the so-called ’Russian threat’ was good for business.

Retired Army general Richard Cody, vice-President of the US’s seventh largest defense contractor, L-3 communications, bemoaned the fact that “when the old Cold War ended’ defense budgets went south”. Now though a ’resurgent Russia’ meant an “uptick was coming”.

There was a similarly upbeat message from Stuart Bradie, chief executive of CBR, who talked of the “opportunities” the current situation presents.

The case for higher defense spending to counter the ‘Russian threat’ has been made by a series of think-tanks. And guess what? The most hawkish of these lobbyists – sorry, ‘think tanks’ – receive sizable funding from US defense contractors!

The Intercept cites the examples of the Lexington Institute and the Atlantic Council.

But there’s plenty others too. Back in February, I wrote about a ‘non-partisan’ US policy institute called the Center for European Policy Analysis. The CEPA issued a paper attacking Russian media outlet Sputnik for giving a voice to “anti-establishment protest politicians” who were critical of NATO.

And who funds the ‘non-partisan’ CEPA? Recent donors include the US Department of Defense, Boeing, Raytheon Company, Textron Systems, Sikorsky Aircraft, Bell Helicopter and the Lockheed Martin Corporation.

What’s happening in Europe today is the same that’s been happening in the Middle East for years.

The US creates chaos, then goes in to sell countries in the region the latest military hardware to ‘protect’ them from the chaos. It’s quite a racket and clearly modeled on the extortion schemes of the Mafia. Countries that don’t want to pay up, like Yugoslavia in 1990s, are likely to get bombed.

Consider how the crisis in Ukraine started. The US spent billions of dollars in a ‘regime change’ op to topple the democratically elected government of Viktor Yanukovych and replace it with a pro-US puppet administration. We even heard the State Department’s Victoria Nuland – after she had handed out cookies to anti-government protestors in the Maidan – discussing who should and shouldn’t be in the new ‘democratic’ Ukrainian government, with US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt.

When the people of Crimea predictably said ‘Nyet’ to the State Department’s operation, and voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia in a referendum, Russia was cast as the ‘aggressor’ who had ‘invaded’ the Ukraine. The US would have known that its regime change op in Ukraine would cause chaos and increase tensions with Russia. And that’s exactly why they did it!

To continue reading: Follow the money trail for source of ‘Russian threat’ paranoia