US military build-up: the INSANITY DEFENCE


Jan Slakov

Dear RN list,    Jan. 20

Well, it looks like the cyberjournal server is working again. Good news!

Increases in military spending are so wrong-headed; I feel we ought to all
refuse to pay for military forms of defence as we need most to defend
ourselves now from non-military threats: environmental destruction,
financial warfare (aka the "globalization of poverty"), the threats from
within to what is left of our democracies. (I have contact info for a
Canadian group for people who, for reasons of conscience, wish alternate
service for their taxes: <•••@••.•••>. If anyone has information
for groups in other countries, please send it along and I will share it.)

Following the excellent CORP-FOCUS piece below, is a brief exchange on this
topic between a Canadian activist and our own rkm.

all the best, jan
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999 13:25:07 -0500
From: Robert Weissman <•••@••.•••>
To: Multiple recipients of list CORP-FOCUS <•••@••.•••>
Subject: The Insanity Defense

Need a definition for Washington? 

Try institutional insanity.

Consider this: The United States, the world's only remaining military
superpower, is about to embark on a military buildup unmatched since the
peak of the Reagan-era Cold War.

President Clinton is preparing to propose a boost in the defense budget of
$112 billion over six years --  on top of the already monstrous $265
billion of federal money spent annually on the military. The weapons
procurement budget alone is scheduled to grow 50 percent in the next half
decade. And the Congressional Republicans are set to demand an even
greater jump in military spending.

What's happened, you might ask: Was there a coup in Russia? Has the Cold
War resumed? 

Uh, no. It is not the Empire that's struck again, itUs the
military-industrial complex. 

During the Clinton presidency, the U.S. defense industry -- with
encouragement and subsidies from the Pentagon --  has undergone an
ear-splitting consolidation that has left but three major contractors:
Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon. Today's Lockheed Martin is the
product of the merger of Lockheed, Martin Marietta, Loral and parts of
General Dynamics. Boeing leaped to the top tier of the contractor pack
with its acquisition of McDonnell Douglas. Raytheon gobbled up Hughes.

With manufacturing facilities spread across the United States, these three
companies now have enormous political influence -- they can promise that
new military contracts will mean jobs in the districts of hundreds of
members of Congress, and in nearly every state. They supplement this
structural power with huge campaign contributions -- more than $8.5
million  in the 1997-1998 electoral cycle, according to the Center for
Responsive politics -- and even bigger lobbying investments -- nearly $50
million in 1997 alone, according to the Center. To complete the package,
the industry invests in a variety of hawkish policy institutes and front
groups, all of which churn reports, issue alerts, factsheets,
congressional testimony and op-eds on the critical need for more, and
more, and more defense spending.

Combined with the powerful lobby from the Pentagon and its chicken-little
worries about shortcomings in U.S. military "readiness" and the ability of
the United States to fight two major wars simultaneously, the defense
contractors have successfully positioned themselves to reap the benefits
of a new explosion in military spending. 

As William Hartung of the World Policy Institute notes in a new report,
"Military Industrial Complex Revisited," nothing indicates the power of
the contractor lobby more than its ability to extract more money from
Congress for weapons purchases than the Pentagon itself has requested.

Hartung highlights the example of the C-130 transport plane, which is made
by Lockheed Martin just outside of the congressional district of former
Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. In the last 20 years, the U.S. Air
Force has asked for five C-130s, but Congress has funded 256. "This ratio
of 50 planes purchased for every one requested by the Pentagon may well be
a record in the annals of pork barrel politics," Hartung writes. The
C-130s go for about $75 million a piece.

Even more remarkable, perhaps, is the "Star Wars" program. With the
collapse of the Soviet Union, the program's original mission no longer
exists. Although the Pentagon has poured $55 billion  into the program in
a decade and a half, as Hartung notes, it has been a miserable failure in
technical terms. Undeterred, the Congressional leadership added an extra
$1 billion in Star Wars funding in the 1999 federal budget. Chalk up
another victory for Lockheed and Boeing.

But nothing compares to bonanza that the defense sector is about to reap.
Without even the bogeyman of a perceived Soviet threat and in a time of
rigid adherence to budget austerity, the weapons makers and their allies
are about to usher in a new era of military profligacy and industrial

With the U.S. infrastructure crumbling, its Medicare system imperiled,
child poverty at unconscionable levels in a time of unparalleled economic
expansion and global warming threatening the well-being of the entire
planet, a remotely sensible version of "national security"  would
prioritize these concerns over maintaining the military budget at current
levels, let alone increasing it. 

Unfortunately, the lobbies for public works, the sick and aged, the poor
and the environment cannot match the influence of the weapons makers.
Their urgings that the federal government invest to address real problems
that trouble the entire society, or at least large segments of it, are
dismissed as "unreasonable."

In Washington, where things are upside down, it is the madmen in the
Pentagon and at Lockheed Martin who are considered reasonable.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime
Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
Multinational Monitor.

(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

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1/16/99, Jan Slakov forwarded:
  >Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 12:11:34 -0500 (EST)
>Subject: Re: Clinton military budget increase+Women's Global Net
>Hi!  The Clinton military spending proposals shouldn't come as a surprize.
>The most recent Iraq bombing set the stage.  He's pulling out all the stops
 >to please the right, given the impeachment process.  If its a bad time for
  >him, he'd going to make it a bad time for the world.

Dear Jan, Joy, etc...

This is the analysis we are being encouraged to believe by the media,
including wag-the-dog film, but I for one don't believe it.

Clinton is a phoney, just like Tony Blair... someone selected to be
president so that people would believe they were being represented.  He's a
PR figure, a speech maker, a distractor from what's going on in the world.
Does anyone really believe he sits up late at night designing or studying
national strategy??  He reads cue-cards, just like Reagan did.

The persecution of Iraq is about weapons testing, and keeping oil prices
from falling, and establishing the principle that national sovereignty is a
thing of the past... in short, its a central part of the globalization
process.  "Wag-the-dog" is _itself wag-the-dog.

wu&stc,  (wake up and smell the coffee)    (:>)