Cutting the Pentagon Budget in Half Would Finally Force the Generals to Think
You wrote, "...give the MIC credit. Its tenacity has been amazing".
What makes it and all other lobbies tenacious is money, a flood of money that easily pays for constant attention to Congress. And what makes it doubly outrageous is it is our money going to all the industries that produces the surplus spent on Congress. The stock buy-back issue is allied in that it shows how there is enough money for business to shower it on stock purchases that do nothing but drive up stock prices to the benefit of those given stock options within the companies.
Our problem is bigger than the MIC, but the MIC is an excellent example of the corruption of our system of government. We MUST get rid of Citizens United, a decision behind which every lobby is united.
A 2 hour + analysis and questions with Scott Ritter on The Duran. I listen to his analysis/speculations because I believe he has the informed basis to make them.
Great Minds think alike, eh Bill? The Future of Freedom Foundation’s Founder and President Jacob Hornberger began today’s post WHY NOT DEFUND THE MILITARY? as follows:
“Amidst all the talk about defunding the police, notice something important: No one talks about defunding the military. That’s because the military establishment is too powerful and has come to be accepted as a permanent feature in American life. Except for libertarians, everyone treats the military as their god.
“But defunding the military, whose taxpayer-funded largess is now around $800 billion per year, is precisely what we need to do. This is especially true given the out-of-control spending, debt, and monetary debauchery that is threatening to take our country down from within, not to mention the fact that the military establishment is now doing everything it can to embroil the United States in a nuclear war with Russia, China, or both.
“According to a September 7, 2022, article at Omni Financial, the United States has around 450-500 military bases here in the United States. All 50 states have at least one base. Several have dozens of bases. California has 123, Texas 59, Florida 56, Hawaii 49, and Alaska 47.
“What purpose does this empire of domestic military bases serve?
“Answer: It serves no purpose whatsoever. These bases all exist for their own sake — that is, simply to serve as a place for military personnel to live and work, as they spend that $800 billion in annual taxpayer-funded largess.
“Think about it. In the 19th century, it made sense to have military bases to protect communities from attacks by Native Americans. But today, there is no threat of attack on any communities by Native Americans. That threat disappeared a long time ago.
“Again, I ask: What purpose do all these military bases serve? Answer: No purpose whatsoever.
“What about the threat of a foreign invasion of the United States? Couldn’t it be said that those 450-500 bases protect Americans in the event of foreign invasion of the United States?
“But there is no threat of a foreign invasion of the United States. None!”
After explaining why there is no threat of invasion, Mr Hornberger concludes as follows:
“Remember what Martin Luther King said about the U.S. national-security state — that it is the ‘greatest purveyor of violence in the world.’
“How is all that deadly and destructive foreign interventionism [since the end of World War II] in the interests of the American people? All it does is inflict death, suffering, and destruction that engenders anger and hatred, which then manifests itself in retaliatory terrorism, which is then used to justify the existence of that vast empire of domestic and foreign military bases.
“Let’s not forget something else that’s of critical importance: the destruction of our liberty here at home at the hands of the national-security establishment. Examples: The USA PATRIOT Act, mass secret surveillance, the super-secret rubber-stamp FISA court, indefinite detention, military tribunals, denial of due process, and state-sponsored assassinations and torture of American citizens.
“Our nation was founded as a limited-government republic. That’s the governmental system that the Constitution called into existence. That was our governmental system for more than 100 years. It was characterized by a basic, relatively small army. The last thing our ancestors wanted was a gigantic military establishment with a gigantic empire of domestic and military bases that America has today. They fiercely opposed standing armies.
“THE CONVERSION OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO A NATIONAL-SECURITY STATE WAS THE WORST MISTAKE OUR NATION HAS EVER MADE. NOT ONLY IS IT A MAJOR FACTOR IN THE OUT-OF-CONTROL FEDERAL SPENDING, DEBT, AND MONETARY DEBAUCHERY THAT IS THREATENING OUR NATION WITH BANKRUPTCY, IT ALSO IS NOW THREATENING OUR NATION WITH LIFE-DESTROYING NUCLEAR WAR.
“WE NEED TO REPEAL AND DISMANTLE THE NATIONAL SECURITY ESTABLISHMENT AND RESTORE A LIMITED-GOVERNMENT REPUBLIC WITH A RELATIVELY SMALL MILITARY FORCE. WE NEED TO DO IT NOW. OUR LIBERTY, PEACE, PROSPERITY, HARMONY, AND POSSIBLY EVEN OUR SURVIVAL DEPEND ON IT.”
Full article at https://www.fff.org/2023/01/31/why-not-defund-the-military/ [EMPHASIS added.]
Of course, I applaud Ike for his MIC speech. Interesting, though, that he waited until he was leaving the White House to make it. I've often wondered why that was, and the conclusion I come to is that he feared what would happen if he'd made the speech earlier. From being an insider, he was well aware of the MIC's power. In other words, the dangerous situation he predicted had long since come to pass, and he knew it. He kept himself safe by keeping mum until he relinquished his office.
JFK, MLK, and RFK were not as knowledgeable. Or fortunate.
Another excellent piece, Lieutenant Colonel Astore; another candidate for inclusion in the book: THE BEST OF BRACING VIEWS. Lots and lots to chew on there [especially all the past articles]; and a number of questions raised.
The first one, Bill, being: Have You, Colonel Bacevich, Major Sjursen, or any of the Veterans contributing to their book PATHS OF DISSENT: SOLDIERS SPEAK OUT AGAINST AMERICA’S MISGUIDED WARS given any thought to joining Scott Ritter and Mathew Hoh as Speakers at the RAGE AGAINST THE WAR MACHINE ANTI-WAR RALLY in Washington, DC scheduled for February 19th?
[ https://rageagainstwar.com/#Speakers ]
As noted earlier, there is no indication whatsoever that Veterans For Peace ~ which calls itself the pre-eminent Veterans organization among American Peace and Anti-War groups ~ is in any way involved in what could be the first major pro-Peace/anti-War action in this country since 15 February 2003, and the one-weekend-long effort and subsequent failure to stop our search for Saddam’s “WMDs” and the "liberation" of the Iraqi people from happening.
If America's 21st century MICC and National Security State is EVER going to be effectively questioned, challenged, and confronted, and then combatted, defeated, and CHANGED to its proper function of Defense and Security, it will be Veterans who will lead that effort.
And for that to happen, what is needed is not more Veterans For Peace, who have accomplished very, very little by way of preventing and failing that, of ending any of America's Wars since its founding in 1985.
What is needed are more VETERANS AGAINST WAR, people who are prepared to wage a WAR AGAINST WAR. And not just by talking and writing about it on the internet or social media.
Mr. Astore, you begin this column in a declaration that you will tell truths that might anger your MIC comrades in arms. I suppose you mean to assure us readers that you know what you are talking about and make us more receptive to the education you offer us here. To be honest, I believe that you have told the truth, and that I as a citizen have indeed benefitted from a great many things that you have discussed and revealed in your post-Service articles.
But I had second thoughts when I read the following: "No, not that 'Citizens United,' not the case in which the Supreme Court decided corporations had the same free speech rights as you and me..."
May I ask a favor? Would you digress from your usual antiwar topics for one column in the near future? In it, would you take a look at the actual Supreme Court opinion in the "Citizens United" case, and point out to us where the Justices actually ever considered whether corporations had free speech rights at all? Even the Bill of Rights, which, as I understand it, acknowledges -- and pledges the Federal government to protect -- human rights that existed before and independently of the US government and its Constitution, doesn't actually cite "freedom of speech," or of the press, as rights, strictly speaking. It only implicitly supports those rights by ordering the government not to abridge the corresponding freedoms. A corporation may not have "human rights," but certainly it can exercise unabridged freedoms. People may not like the idea that "soulless corporations" have or can exercise freedoms, but when the Constitution simply says, "don't abridge freedom x," it is not saying that any particular entity has a right to that freedom, is it? On the other hand, the Constitution IS denying the government its own freedom to abridge that other freedom ... at all. Wouldn't you think so? In a column where you set out to speak (important!) truths, please make sure not to impeach yourself by relying on and endorsing something that seems irrelevant to your main point, just to appeal to the crowd, when "what everyone knows" in this case might not actually be true. I look forward to your explanation and judgment of what the Citizens United opinion really says. Thanks for reading this.
And the fourth, final, and biggest question about all this is: How is America’s Warfare State economy [and many of its other systemic, existential threat problems] going to be changed without changing America’s system of government and governance?
The ultimate, root cause and source of America’s crisis today is that it has a system of government and governance in which various and sundry Vested Special Interests use the legal power, the bureaucratic administrative authority, and particularly, the spending capability of the federal government, to accomplish whatever it is that those VSIs want to accomplish for their clients/cohorts/constituents/ themselves. Regardless of what the Citizens of this Nation may want or need.
That is nothing new; the Federalists worked very hard to make that happen back when this system was being put together back in Philadelphia in the late 1780s, and it has succeeded for their successors ~ America’s Ruling Political Class ~ ever since.
Bill: To my question: “What is to be done about, with, and for all the people and their families in the MICC who would lose their jobs if the National Security State budget was cut in half?”, You answered: “Plans exist, Jeff, to convert our ‘wartime’ economy to a peacetime one. So, for example, the factories that make F-35s and B-21s could conceivably make wind turbines and solar panels… .”
Do “Plans” actually exist?
Can You refer me to any that spell out in detail exactly how America’s Imperialist Warfare State “wartime” economy can, could, and would be converted to a functioning “peacetime” or even “green” economy?
What I am interested in is whether anybody has presented a roadmap for how that conversion is going to take place. How long will it take people who build F-35s and B-21s for a living to learn how to make wind turbines and solar panels? And who is going to pay them while they are learning all that? And how long will it take to dismantle the fighter/bomber construction and assembly plants, machines, and tools, and change them over to wind turbine/solar panels factories? And who is going to pay for all that? Current stockholders of the MICC corporations?
Are You aware of any actual Plan by anybody that answers these questions? A Google Search for “converting u.s. war economy to green economy” yielded only one item that appears to even come close: a webinar conducted by Brown University’s COSTS OF WAR Project held on January 30. It’s blurb reads:
“BUT WHAT ABOUT THE JOBS? MAPPING THE PATH FROM A MILITARIZED TO A GREEN ECONOMY” The U.S. economy is inextricably linked with industries that produce weapons of war and harm the environment. Discussions of scaling back these industries inevitably lead to threats or fears of lost jobs. But what if the economy was not so dependent on militarism and fossil fuels? What might it look like to transition to a green economy and away from the stranglehold of military manufacturing?”
Full webinar is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Y2PynXRegQ .
For a more specific example: If the money saved by cutting the MICC/NSS budget is to be used as an investment in infrastructure, how many of those folks working for the Top 5 Defense contractors [just listed] would be able to move into “infrastructure work” right now without some form of transitional training? And how long would it take to get them transitioned?
Again, can You cite any other studies that ask the same sorts of questions and provide answers?
And finally, who is going to be responsible and held accountable for seeing to it that this transition from a Warfare State economy to a Peace/Green economy actually takes place? People in Washington? Weren’t those the same folks who promised a “Peace Dividend” with our victory in Cold War I?
Dennis: As regards my question: “What is to be done about, with, and for all the people and their families in the MICC who would lose their jobs if the National Security State budget was cut in half?”, You stated:
“Boeing makes civilian stuff and military stuff.
“Chop the military stuff.
“And have that same amount of money, and jobs, poured into airliner research.”
That would be comparatively quite easy for Boeing, given that its sales to the Pentagon make up less than 1/3 of Boeing’s Total Sales [29% in 2017].
That would not be quite so easy for General Dynamics [Arms sales were 63% of Total sales], Northrop Grumman [87% of total], Lockheed Martin [89%], and Raytheon [94%].
What would those other guys pour all that same proportion of money and jobs into?
Note: Figures for 2017. And can anyone doubt that it has changed in any way except to get worse?
The Heritage Foundation on the same subject: https://www.theamericanconservative.com/getting-serious-about-responsible-defense-spending/
The second question raised by Your piece, Bill ~ after Veterans Who Write participation in the February 19 RAGE AGAINST THE WAR MACHINE ANTI-WAR RALLY ~ is: What is to be done about, with, and for all the people and their families in the MICC who would lose their jobs if the National Security State budget was cut in half?
And the third question is: How would the money saved by cutting the NSS budget be used? For other government projects? To pay down the National Debt? To give tax cuts for people besides the “Rich”?
You are touching a sensitive area, here, Bill, but one that is perhaps the most important lever the people have. For it's Congress that must approve these budgets, and even those major-donor-tainted SOBs / DOBs sellouts must eventually have to face constituents every 2 or 6 years..
And what if enough of the Congress-critters' constituents said, "enough already"? What if they finally connected the dots between the lack of affordable health care, adequate education funding, failing infrastructure, threatened attacks on social security, refusal to extend the child tax credit (etc.) and the dangerously bloated military budgets - and demanded needed changes of priorities? I know...the 'critters' might still ignore them. But what if routinely, a few hundred of their constituents wrote letters and showed up at the critters' offices? What about a few thousand?
So you're on the right path, here.
I do want to opine though, that in regard to the basic question of "who drives foreign policy", about which you've written before, budgetary allocations only tell part of the story.
While the State Dep't. has a comparatively tiny budget, it's influence on the Administration's policy shouldn't be understated. If one looks at the membership of the neocon's Project for A New American Century (PNAC) in the '90s, and follows them to the current day, you see that many of its alum were deeply involved in pushing wars, justified with false claims, whether in Libya, Iraq, Syria or today in Ukraine.
For example, Victoria Nuland, a key player in pushing the Iraqi WMD narrative, was the point person involved in the State Dep't's engineering and support, in 2014, of the coup against then-Ukraine- President Yanukovych. She just happens to be the wife of PNAC founder Robert Kagan. Today, she's again in the State Dep't, where she heads up policy on Ukraine. But whether its her, or Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, or other, all have been leading proponents of imperial war against any state challenging U.S. global / dollar hegemony.
I get that such people as mentioned also have ties to the MIC . After all, the latter must be aligned. But it's important to note that they also have ties to the fossil fuel industry. Bush (Shrub) owned Harken Energy. His VP Cheney was CEO of Halliburton.
You might as well try to stop the Borg.