Military is Spending, but is it Protecting?

Ideas and Issues
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith)

Little Rock       Recently, I had a wakeup call realizing that our missile defense system is a gazillion dollar charade with perhaps 50% effectiveness.  Having watched a good part of the East and Western Conference NBA finals, I couldn’t get one of the commercials out of my mind about whether “pretty good, is good enough.”  I’m not sure that 50% is anywhere near “good enough,” when literally millions might be killed and whole cities destroyed.  Reading a recent column by Alexander Cockburn in Harper’s raises serious questions and casts doubt on what the heck the military is really doing with all of its dollars.

First, let’s be clear it’s sucking up a huge amount – 53 cents out of every dollar appropriated by Congress is one figure he shared.  Furthermore, getting “mathy” again, Cockburn makes a convincing case that the military is now spending past Cold War levels, and that, practically speaking, there was never a “peace dividend.”  The military has managed to pretty much increase their budget by 5% every year, come hell or high water.  Those are the numbers, so that’s the facts, Jack.

Cockburn makes an argument that part of the scam the military has been pulling on the politicians to make them such rubber stamps, including virtually all candidates for the Democratic nominations thus far who have been pretty quiet on defense spending, is by manufacturing global crises.  Not that the world is not a dangerous and messy place, but the military has become adept in its fundraising to be able to heighten the terror index every time their budget is threatened.

Ok, so they are good at that and are sucking up a lot of money, so what?  Well, here’s the kicker to me:  little of it seems to be on soldiers, and a lot of it seems to be for new high-tech toys that don’t work as advertised and cost more than ever imagined.  It is almost impossible to say the word overruns without attaching military to it.  Cockburn goes through a litany of new planes, destroyers, and even robot warriors, though that seems to have been ditched completely.  Each destroyer cost billions, so we’re now lucky to have three, but when Congress voted to start there were supposed to be scores.  Same for planes, we have a couple of dozen where we supposedly would build over 100.  Why?  There seems to be no oversight or real incentive for either the men in uniform or the contractors to ever cut costs from toilet covers to jet planes.  The examples from other countries who do so are sobering, as well.

Meanwhile when it comes to soldiers themselves, families are paying for better flak jackets, and the government now says it is ok to fleece soldiers and their families on predatory loans.  The priority doesn’t seem to be either the troops or public defense, so what the heck is going on here, and why is this OK with Congress?


Please enjoy Jesse Malin’s Room 13

Thanks to KABF.