The Pentagon is an area that should see massive cuts. Historic cuts. I say this as a military brat and as one who has beloved family in the military. The military should be much smaller and much more efficient. As technology has ramped up there are large areas to cut. So cut them.
But you know what should be much smaller still? That massive post military career works program called The Military Industrial Complex. For some reason there is the assumption that after the military military people should work for defense contractors.
I grew up in the Military Industrial Complex. I have great respect for many aspects of the military. I’ve been to multiple Army/Navy games. I proudly cheer for the Midshipmen on Saturdays in the fall.
But the military can be big government, some of the biggest. And often decisions on war are made in Washington with little thought beyond the “great game.” In the the playing of the game people (usually powerless) die and are maimed and shattered psychologically.
War is very profitable for some. Mostly people at the top, the connected cronies. War is however hell for the innocently bombed and the refugees and the raped and the otherwise victimized in the fog of hell. We should never forget that. War is a very bad thing. Perhaps the worst thing humans can engage in. It is many cases if not most cases an immoral thing. And war should always be a last resort for a civilized country. We used to know this.
I am currently editing a collection of past essays and last night I was editing the “neocon” chapter. I noticed that we argued multiple times in 2014-2015 that with the rise of Rand Paul the neocons, the pro-war crowd in the GOP and with them the weapons manufacturers, might defect to Hillary Clinton.
But as it turned out it wasn’t Rand who sent the big government GOP war advocates to Hillary, it was Trump.
Defense contractors are accustomed to getting what they want.
The military industrial complex is massive. It hangs like a moon in the skies over Washington DC. Its political gravitational pull is unrivaled. Its presence always felt.
We run this video (the distilled version) once a year or so and this seems an appropriate time to run it again. Below is perhaps one of the most important speeches ever given by a president. Eisenhower, the former General of the Army, addresses the danger of the Military Industrial Complex in his farewell to the American people.
According to the Center for Public Integrity’s review of Federal Election Commission data,
As I’ve written many times before, I grew up around the military industrial complex. I am a Navy brat and am still a Navy Football fan. (Pretty much the only team I care about these days.) I know the squeal of an F-14 as it banks in at sunset to land with its wings open. I can practically recite Top Gun to you. At one point I thought I might want to be a navy SEAL. My mother used to take us to the beach and we’d watch the giant hovercrafts ramp over the dunes.
I run this clip periodically because I think it is one of the most important presidential speeches caught on tape. It is of president Eisenhower, who was the commander of American forces during World War 2 warning of the emergence of a powerful armaments industry in the United States, and the danger of such an industry. It was his farewell address to the nation.
I am a navy brat. My father is/was a Cold Warrior. I’ve spent a good part of my life around the Military Industrial Complex and I believe Eisenhower’s warning was dismissed and continues to be dismissed simply because so many people make money in the war machine.
I love that Politico says that we are in “at least 5” wars. You know, because maybe 1 or 2 aren’t really wars technically, or the American public doesn’t really know about them, whatever. At least 5.
Some within the GOP will always want more military spending. Whether in peace or during times of war their bias is always toward MORE. This disposition is not good for the Republic as President Eisenhower in his farewell speech explained.
Remember, this guy led our forces in World War II as a five star general, was a Republican president, and has an aircraft carrier named for him.
A few weeks ago we wrote about the “mandarin class” which populates official and think tank Washington DC. We argued that many of the people making important policy decisions are dangerously out of touch with the real “blood” of America, the grit, the nuts and bolts. Many of this group of folks come from the same northeastern schools and have similar political dispositions (which is to say establishment liberal). This wonky concentration has only increased over the years.
As I have said many times, I grew up a Navy brat. I have great respect for the military and its culture. The sound of an F-14 screeching as it comes in for a landing is deeply ingrained in my subconscious and in my heart. I am a Navy Football fan. But conservatives (at least modern conservatives and of course neoconservatives – who are not really conservatives) give the military far too much credit, literally.
This place is hemorrhaging tax dollars and has for decades. Your money.
Well that’s great. The question is how useful will this audit actually be, and how truthful? In the 3 years since the birth of this site we have chronicled plenty of examples of waste in the military. It is PERVASIVE. The level of waste speaks frankly to a culture of accounting negligence at the Pentagon which is perhaps only rivaled by the chicanery at the Federal Reserve. Heads (and many many heads at all levels) should have rolled long ago.
The Department of Defense has been given a free ride pretty much since World War II. The Military Industrial Complex which President Eisenhower warned about in his farewell address (former 5 star general Eisenhower) is very real and it has grown and grown taking up ever more of the American economy. The contractors and the services are awash in taxpayer money. Your money. And much of this money isn’t being used wisely. It is going to hyper expensive parts procurement (see above),