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America’s “overkill” with nuclear weapons – but Trump still wants more

The Sway of the Nuclear Arms Industry Over Donald Trump and Congress Is Terrifying
“The devastation is very important to me.”  Mother Jones his story originally appeared on TomDispatch.com……… in every sense of the term, our nuclear arsenal already represents overkill on an almost unimaginable scale. Independent experts from US war colleges suggest that about 300 warheads would be more than enough to deter any country from launching a nuclear attack on the United States.It may not surprise you to learn that there’s nothing new about the influence the nuclear weapons lobby has over Pentagon spending priorities. The successful machinations of the makers of strategic bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles, intended to keep tax dollars flowing their way, date back to the dawn of the nuclear age and are the primary reason President Dwight D. Eisenhower coined the term “military-industrial complex” and warned of its dangers in his 1961 farewell address.

Without the development of such weapons, that complex simply would not exist in its present form. The Manhattan Project, the vast endeavor that produced the first workable nukes during World War II, was one of the largest government-funded research and manufacturing projects in history. Today’s nuclear warhead complex is still largely built around facilities and locations dating back to that time…….

Eisenhower couldn’t have been more clear-eyed about all of this. He saw the missile gap for the fiction it was or, as he put it, a “useful piece of political demagoguery” for his opponents. “Munitions makers,” he insisted, “are making tremendous efforts towards getting more contracts and in fact seem to be exerting undue influence over the senators.”

 Once Kennedy took office, it became all too apparent that there was no missile gap, but by then it hardly mattered. The damage had been done. Billions of dollars more were flowing into the nuclear-industrial complex to build up an American arsenal of ICBMs already unmatched on the planet.

The techniques that the arms lobby and its allies in government used more than half a century ago to promote sky-high nuclear weapons spending continue to be wielded to this day. The 21st-century arms complex employs tools of influence that Kennedy and his compatriots would have found familiar indeed—including millions of dollars in campaign contributions that flow to members of Congress and the continual employment of 700 to 1,000 lobbyists to influence them; that’s nearly two arms lobbyists for every member of Congress. Much of this sort of activity remains focused on ensuring that nuclear weapons of all types are amply financed and that the funding for the new generations of the bombers, submarines, and missiles that will deliver them stays on track.

When traditional lobbying methods don’t get the job done, the industry’s argument of last resort is jobs—in particular, jobs in the states and districts of key members of Congress. This process is aided by the fact that nuclear weapons facilities are spread remarkably widely across the country There are labs in California and New Mexico; a testing and research site in Nevada; a warhead assembly and disassembly plant in Texas; a factory in Kansas City, Missouri, that builds nonnuclear parts for such weapons; and a plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, that produces weapon-grade uranium. There are factories or bases for ICBMs, bombers, and ballistic missile submarines in Connecticut, Georgia, Washington State, California, Ohio, Massachusetts, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Such a nuclear geography ensures that a striking number of congressional representatives will automatically favor more spending on nuclear weapons.

In reality, the jobs argument is deeply flawed. As the experts know, virtually any other activity into which such funding flowed would create significantly more jobs than Pentagon spending.study by economists at the University of Massachusetts, for example, found infrastructure investment would create one and one-half times as many jobs as Pentagon funding and education spending twice as many.

In most cases it hasn’t seemed to matter that the jobs claims for weapons spending are grotesquely exaggerated and better alternatives litter the landscape. The argument remains remarkably potent in states and communities that are particularly dependent on the Pentagon. Perhaps unsurprisingly, members of Congress from such areas are disproportionately represented on the committees that decide how much will be spent on nuclear and conventional weaponry………. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/11/devastation-very-important-nuclear-weapons-industry-donald-trump-1/

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November 20, 2017 - Posted by | employment, USA

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