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How the American military-industrial-political racket works

weapons1“It’s what in Washington we call an iron triangle,”   ” you have an alliance between the private sector, the defence contractors, the executive branch, in this case the Pentagon, and the legislative branch.”Everyone benefits from expensive procurement projects – the Pentagon gets weapons, defence companies get to make profits, and politicians get re-elected by funding armaments that generate jobs for constituents and campaign contributions from defence companies.

The result… is a defence budget “that is packed to the gills with weapons we don’t need, with weapons that are underestimated in their future costs”.

America’s War Games How the Obama administration is redefining the US military’s strategic priorities with far-reaching consequences, Aljazeera, 27 April 1 The United States’ military expenditures today account for about 40 percent of the world total. In 2012, the US spent some $682bn on its military – an amount more than what was spent by the next 13 countries combined.

 The United States’ military expenditures today account for about 40 percent of the world total. In 2012, the US spent some $682bn on its military – an amount more than what was spent by the next 13 countries combined.

Now that the war in Iraq is over and the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan will be complete in 2014, the stage might therefore appear to be set for a decrease in US defence spending. Even in Washington DC, many have argued that the defence budget can be cut substantially and the resulting “peace dividend” could be diverted to more pressing domestic concerns, such as dealing with the nation’s continuing economic problems.However, a battle to ward off cuts to the Pentagon’s budget has begun and the way things are going, it seems likely that the US will have the smallest drawdown or reduction of the military budget after a period of conflict since World War II – in comparative terms, smaller than after Vietnam, Korea and the end of the Cold War. 

The Pentagon’s joint chiefs of staff have appeared before Congress warning of dire results from the impacts of sequestration, a requirement to reduce defence spending by $500bn over 10 years that grew out of a 2011 budget deal between President Obama and Congress. In March, sequestration led to a $41bn cut in 2013 defence spending.

Pentagon officials, defence companies, politicians and conservative commentators argue that defence cuts will be devastating for the military and the economy. Others point out that after sequestration, the Pentagon’s base defence budget, which does not include additional funds for the war in Afghanistan – will remain above the Cold War average, and close to the highest level since World War II.Chuck Spinney, who worked as an analyst in the US secretary of defence’s office for 26 years, believes it is difficult for the United States to reap the benefits of a peace dividend because of the workings of the military-industrial complex that President Dwight Eisenhower warned about in his final 1961 address.

“It’s what in Washington we call an iron triangle,” Spinney says, ” you have an alliance between the private sector, the defence contractors, the executive branch, in this case the Pentagon, and the legislative branch.”Everyone benefits from expensive procurement projects – the Pentagon gets weapons, defence companies get to make profits, and politicians get re-elected by funding armaments that generate jobs for constituents and campaign contributions from defence companies.

The result, according to Spinney, is a defence budget “that is packed to the gills with weapons we don’t need, with weapons that are underestimated in their future costs”.The Pentagon and defence contractors low-ball costs and exaggerate performance in the early stages of a project to “turn on the money spigot”. Then the companies engage in “political engineering,” they spread the contracts and employment for a weapon around to as many Congressional districts as possible. They do that, Spinney says, so that once cost-overruns and performance problems become apparent, “you can’t do anything about it [because] there’s too much political support”.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a textbook case of a Pentagon procurement project that reveals why it is difficult to cut the defence budget……Pentagon contractors have “for years used the jobs argument to revive weapons systems that have been cancelled. To push for things that even the Pentagon itself has not wanted.” For months, a study has been circulating in Washington, underwritten by the Aerospace Industries Association, a major defence industry trade group. It claims that a million jobs would be lost as a result of sequestration cuts to defence spending.http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/peopleandpower/2013/04/2013424113558268754.html

 

April 29, 2013 - Posted by | spinbuster, USA, weapons and war

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