Tag Archives: military-industrial complex

Never the Pentagon, by Mandy Smithberger

In Washington, nothing succeeds quite like failure, and the military-industrial complex is the prime example. From Mandy Smithberger at tomdispatch.com:

How The Military-Industrial Complex Gets Away With Murder in Contract After Contract

Call it a colossal victory for a Pentagon that hasn’t won a war in this century, but not for the rest of us. Congress only recently passed and the president approved one of the largest Pentagon budgets ever. It will surpass spending at the peaks of both the Korean and Vietnam wars. As last year ended, as if to highlight the strangeness of all this, the Washington Post broke a story about a “confidential trove of government documents” — interviews with key figures involved in the Afghan War by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction — revealing the degree to which senior Pentagon leaders and military commanders understood that the war was failing. Yet, year after year, they provided “rosy pronouncements they knew to be false,” while “hiding unmistakable evidence that the war had become unwinnable.”

However, as the latest Pentagon budget shows, no matter the revelations, there will be no reckoning when it comes to this country’s endless wars or its military establishment — not at a moment when President Donald Trump is sending yet more U.S. military personnel into the Middle East and has picked a new fight with Iran. No less troubling: how few in either party in Congress are willing to hold the president and the Pentagon accountable for runaway defense spending or the poor performance that has gone with it.

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Ike Was Right, by Eric Margolis

Ike’s famous “Military-Industrial Complex” was right as far as it went, but it’s become the military-industrial-intelligence-academia-media complex. From Eric Margolis at ericmargolis.com:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.
Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.”

General Dwight D Eisenhower
Farewell address 1961

Congress just passed a near trillion dollar military budget at a time when the United States faces no evident state threats at home or abroad. Ike was right.

Illustrating Ike’s prescient warning, Brown University’s respected Watson Institute just released a major study which found that the so-called ‘wars on terror’ in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan have cost US taxpayers $6.4 trillion since they began in 2001.

The extensive study found that over 800,000 people have died as a result of these military operations, a third of them civilians. An additional 21 million civilians have been displaced by US military operations. According to the Pentagon, these US wars have so far cost each American taxpayer $7,623 – and that’s a very conservative estimate.

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The Deep State: The Headless Fourth Branch of Government, by Ryan McMaken

The national security bureaucracy that many people think of as the Deep State is part of the administrative state, never contemplated by the Constitution, that combines executive, legislative, and judicial functions. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

School children learn that there are three branches of government: the legislative, executive, and judicial. In actual practice, however, there are four branches of government.

The fourth is what for decades now has been called a “headless fourth branch of government,” the administrative state.

As early as 1937, in a “Report of the President’s Committee on Administrative Management,” the authors write:

Without plan or intent, there has grown up a headless “fourth branch” of the Government, responsible to no one, and impossible of coordination with the general policies and work of the Government as determined by the people through their duly elected representatives.

The problem of waste and lack of accountability in this fourth branch, the report notes, has “been clearly recognized for a generations and ha[s] been growing steadily worse decade by decade.”

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How the US Went from America First to Empire First, by David Stockman

America has acquired an empire because there is a lot of money in it for a select group of people. From David Stockman at internationalman.com:

International Man: In a broad sense, how would you describe the foreign policy of the US?

David Stockman: Well, in two words: Empire First. I contrast that with what Donald Trump thought he wanted to seek as a candidate, America First.

Now these are obviously simplifications and slogans, but there is an underlying substance that’s really important.

I think the basic idea behind “America First” is reaching way back to Robert Taft in the 1950s. He said that we cannot have a permanent warfare state in America, because our foreign policy doesn’t require it and our fiscal capacities can’t afford it.

What Taft basically said is the US sits between these two great ocean moats in a nuclear age, where the number-one threat is a nuclear threat, not an invasion of conventional forces. The way you deal with that is to have overwhelming retaliatory capacity, to keep the other side at bay.

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Washington Prefers Confrontation With Russia to Dialogue and Cooperation, by Brian Cloughley

The US’s efforts to “hem Russia in” grow increasingly ludicrous. From Brian Cloughley at strategic-culture.org:

On September 24, while the Ukraine corruption scandal was gathering momentum in Washington, the US Air Force’s 31 Fighter Wing deployed F-16 strike aircraft to Graf Ignatievo Air Base in Bulgaria as part of Exercise Rapid Buzzard which has the aim of improving the “joint warfighting capability” of the US and Bulgarian air forces. It is hardly coincidental that Bulgaria has undertaken to spend $1.27 billion on buying F-16s, resulting in the US State Department declaring that “We salute Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and the Bulgarian government on its commitment to modernize its military through the acquisition of these highly capable, NATO interoperable aircraft.”

The build-up of US-NATO offensive weapons continues unabated round Russia’s borders, with Bulgaria being described by the State Department as “a reliable ally in an area of strategic importance to the United States.” In New York, the day before the F-16 redeployment, US and Polish Presidents Trump and Duda signed a joint agreement to greatly increase military cooperation and “develop the plan to bolster Polish–United States military ties and United States defence and deterrence capabilities in Poland.”

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Military Keynesianism Marches On, by Joan Roelofs

The warfare state is also a welfare state. From Joan Roelofs at counterpunch.org:

Photograph Source: Pfc. Cameron Boyd/Released – CC0

Our elected representatives do not have to be bribed with campaign contributions from weapons makers to support the Department of Defense budget. They may, shockingly, be representing our nation. Australian political scientist David T. Smith states: “The National Security State maintains democratic legitimacy because of the way it disperses public and private benefits while shielding ordinary Americans from the true costs of high-tech warfare.”

Some support for our military’s activities and its budget can be attributed to propaganda, or veteran nostalgia, or the glorification of violence in our history books, schools, and patriotic parades. In addition, a multitude of interests sustains the military and its budget, and encourages silence about its activities.

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Guns for Hire: No, the Government Shouldn’t Be Using the Military to Police the Globe, by John W. Whitehead

The US empire will meet the same fate as every other empire throughout history. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes… known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” — James Madison

Eventually, all military empires fall and fail by spreading themselves too thin and spending themselves to death.

It happened in Rome.

It’s happening again.

At the height of its power, even the mighty Roman Empire could not stare down a collapsing economy and a burgeoning military. Prolonged periods of war and false economic prosperity largely led to its demise. As historian Chalmers Johnson predicts:

The fate of previous democratic empires suggests that such a conflict is unsustainable and will be resolved in one of two ways. Rome attempted to keep its empire and lost its democracy. Britain chose to remain democratic and in the process let go its empire. Intentionally or not, the people of the United States already are well embarked upon the course of non-democratic empire.

The American Empire—with its endless wars waged by U.S. military servicepeople who have been reduced to little more than guns for hire: outsourced, stretched too thin, and deployed to far-flung places to police the globe—is approaching a breaking point.

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Unused Militaries, by Fred Reed

Why the US cannot hope to win a conventional war against either Russia or China, much less an alliance of the two. From Fred Reed at unz.com:

For a couple of decades I covered the military for various publications, as for example the Washington Times and Harper’s, and wrote a military column for Universal Press Syndicate. I was following the time-honored principle of sensible reporters: “Ask not what you can do for journalism, but what journalism can do for you.” The military beat was a great gig, letting you fly in fighter planes and sink in submarines. But if you take the study seriously, as I did, you learn interesting things. Such as that a war with a real country, such as Russia, China, or even Iran, would be a fool’s adventure. A few points:

Unused militaries deteriorate

The US fleet has not been in a war since 1945, the air forces since 1975. nor the Army in a hard fight since Vietnam. Bombing defenseless peasants, the chief function of the American military, is not war.

In extended periods of peace, which includes the bombing of peasants, a military tends to assume that no major war will come during the careers of those now in uniform. Commanders consequently do what makes their lives easy, what they must do to get through the day and have reasonable fitness reports. This does not include pointing out inadequacies of training or equipment. Nor does it include recommending large expenditures to remedy deficiencies. Nor does it include recommending very expensive mobilization exercises that would divert money from new weapons.

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The War Party Is in Control, by Daniel Lazare

The government has been completely captured by the bipartisan military-industrial-intelligence complex. From Daniel Lazare at consortiumnews.com:

Republicans and Democrats alike are blaming U.S. crises on foreign adversaries instead of themselves, writes Daniel Lazare.

A few things are clear after Robert Mueller’s testimony last week.  One is that the former special counsel is an out-of-touch figurehead who doesn’t even seem to have read his own report.  Another is that Russiagate is a stinking sack of excrement – as California Republican Tom McClintock more or less described it (quote starts at 3:40:45) – that Democrats would never again mention if they had half a brain (which they don’t).

A third is that America is now dominated by a war party that includes everyone on Capitol Hill other than a few isolationists on the right and the Bernie Sanders-Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez faction on the left.  To be sure, there’s disagreement as to whether the enemy is Russia or Iran.  But such minor details aside, the logic is otherwise the same.  Foreigners are out to get us.  They are responsible for all our troubles.  Americans must mobilize to stop them.

Elementary concepts like evidence meanwhile fall by the wayside.  During a visit to India last month, Mike Pompeo described Iran as “the world’s largest state sponsor of terror” (quote at 27:15).

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‘Unprecedented, Wasteful, and Obscene’: House Approves $1.48 Trillion Pentagon Budget, by Jake Johnson

The only halfway good thing you can say about US defense spending is that it’s a different sort of welfare program. From Jake Johnson at commondreams.org:

President Donald Trump arrives to speak after touring the Lima Army Tank Plant at Joint Systems Manufacturing in Lima, Ohio, March 20, 2019. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

In a bipartisan deal that one anti-war critic said demonstrates how thoroughly “broken and captured Washington is by the Pentagon,” 219 House Democrats and 65 Republicans on Thursday voted to approve a budget agreement that includes $1.48 trillion in military spending over the next two years.

Just 16 Democrats—including Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)—voted against the two-year, $2.7 trillion budget agreement. Largely due to expressed concerns about the deficit, 132 Republicans and Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) also voted no.

The final vote was 284-149. (See the full roll call.)

The House passage of the budget deal, which President Donald Trump quickly applauded on Twitter as a victory for the military, comes after the Congressional Progressive Caucus threatened in April to tank the measure in opposition to its out-of-control Pentagon outlays.

But most of the Progressive Caucus voted for the agreement on Thursday, pointing to increases in domestic spending.

“It’s not a perfect deal by any means,” Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chairs of the Progressive Caucus, said in a statement ahead of the vote. “This deal does not address the bloated Pentagon budget, but it does begin to close the gap in funding for families, by allocating more new non-defense spending than defense spending for the first time in many years.”

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