The Pentagon has confirmed the weapons budget will grow at a rate past inflation for many years to come.
The U.S. government will enhance its role as a customer of the military-industrial complex through 2016, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale said in an interview, Tony Capaccio reported today at Bloomberg (via Business Week).
The government’s “spending on weapons through 2016 likely will grow faster than the overall defense budget, which will have annual increases of only about 1 percent above inflation”, Mr. Cappacio reported. Mr. Hale said that the “goal would be to get forces and modernization to grow by 2 or 3 percent” and “to move money from support-type activities—operations and maintenance, military construction—into acquisition”.
Mr. Cappacio reported on the recipients of this corporate welfare expansion:
An increase in weapons spending will include greater purchases of Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F- 35 fighter, new ground vehicles, ship construction, satellite systems and unmanned drones, according to the Pentagon’s long- range plan. Northrop Grumman Corp., of Los Angeles, and Chicago- based Boeing Co. also stand to benefit.
Hale’s remarks are good news for defense contractors, said Todd Harrison, a defense analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
Though Defense Secretary Robert Gates has announced the Pentagon will be shut off the “gusher”, Mr. Cappacio reported that the efforts will be to cut overhead, as the total spending itself only sees growth:
Congress approved $104.8 billion for weapons buying this year and is considering proposed procurement spending of $111.2 billion for fiscal 2011, which begins Oct. 1. The Pentagon may request $120 billion in 2012, rising to $137 billion in 2015, according to comptroller’s office projections that Hale said are, at this time, only for planning purposes.
Estimates about how much money may become available from the cost-cutting efforts are “going to get squishier” as projections move further into the future, Hale said. “That’s just inevitable.”
The Pentagon plan calls for $7 billion in savings in 2012, increasing to $11 billion in 2013 and $18.9 billion in 2014, according to a Pentagon fact sheet. The largest savings are projected at $37 billion in 2016.
Missing from these projections is the axiom of economics that the price of what’s guaranteed to be bought will rise and that which is at risk of not being sold will go down. And all of this as the Treasury Department reports U.S. debt will rise to levels past projections of the gross domestic product. Unemployment is surging and the only way the government can manipulate unemployment data is to simply cut the amount of people collecting unemployment insurance, whether or not they’re employed.
Meanwhile, “subtracting the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, military spending still amounts to over 42% of total spending”, Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) recently noted in a joint op-ed at The Huffington Post on their joint “initiative to include substantial reductions in the projected level of American military spending as part of future deficit reduction efforts”, adding that this U.S. spending consists of 44% of what all governments spend on “such expenditures”.
The recent “Rolling Stan” episode in the media which led to the resignation of the top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, was induced by an excellent article by Michael Hastings at Rolling Stone. Largely ignored was his analysis concluding: “So far, counterinsurgency [COIN] has succeeded only in creating a never-ending demand for the primary product supplied by the military: perpetual war.”
Days before the controversial article and the general’s resignation, he briefed NATO members of the occupying coalition “not to expect any progress” this year, documents leaked to The Independent revealed. Yet, there’s no shortage of ignorant think-tank support for this “perpetual war”, Kelley B. Vlahos wrote at AntiWar.com:
[Andrew Exum, contributing architect of U.S. COIN strategy], who reacts with the unease of someone who realizes his think-tank festooned its entire image with the red, white, and blue bunting of a losing strategy, has been torn lately between refashioning himself as an “open-minded” pragmatist and reverting back to his bulldoggish defense of COIN. But what of this claim that “legions” have declined to discuss the costs and benefits of withdrawal?
“Costs” can be defined many ways. In American lives, as of July 4, there have been 1,152 military fatalities in Afghanistan since 2001, and that’s not counting casualties among American-paid contractors, who now number some 70,000 on the ground. The military has also incurred 14,936 injuries in Afghanistan, according to statistics issued three months ago [.pdf]. This year the U.S. will appropriate close to $170 billion in funding for the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention billions in non-military aid. According to researchers, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost the U.S. a trillion dollars since 9/11 and could reach an estimated $5 trillion in direct and indirect expenses—including long-term veterans’ health care and lifetime disability payments – if these military interventions continue through 2017.
Then there are the costs to the Afghan and Pakistani people. While the counterinsurgency is supposed to be “winning hearts and minds,” the wars have killed upward of 32,000 civilians since 2001 in Afghanistan, while U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan have killed approximately 700 civilians in 2009 alone, according to Pakistani officials. Poverty, desperation, and corruption continue to fester in both countries, fueled by instability and a stream of aid and military resources into the region, the benefits of which never seem to reach the people the West is supposed to be “winning over.”
“There is a mountain of evidence showing that large-scale U.S. (or Western) military presence in the Islamic world serves to anger and alienate the people who we are trying to influence,” Boston University professor and respected COIN critic Andrew Bacevich told Antiwar.com. “Rather than enhancing stability, our wars do just the reverse. They are literally counterproductive.”
Civilian casualties “creates new enemies”, Spencer Ackerman reported today at Wired, citing a working study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The report found “‘strong evidence for a revenge effect’ when examining the relationship between civilian casualties caused by the U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan and radicalization after such incidents occur”, he reported.
Why would policies that result in “reverse” of stated goals be so heavily pursued and sustained? To the point of enhancing those, the most expensive policies of the government, in the midst of a recession that is quickly becoming a depression? Mr. Ackerman reported, the study found “that ISAF-caused civilian casualties corellate [sic] with long-term radicalization in Afghanistan”.
It’s this radicalization that is used to manufacture consent for the survival and enhancement of a self-defeating U.S. foreign policy.
The lock that military-industrial complex-funded think tanks have on the Obama Administration is fueled by the war profiteers’ interest in perpetual war. It’s perpetual war on which their parasitic existence is predicated. It’s the president’s cave-in to this interest enabling its stranglehold on global relations and it’s because of this that he—Stephen Walt recently wrote at his Foreign Policy blog—“will find himself stuck in the Afghan quagmire for the remainder of his time in office”.
This lock fuels the “secret wars” run amok in 75 countries by the Obama Administration—compared to 60 at the beginning of 2009 left active by his predecessor—in Yemen, Somalia, Philippines, Colombia and elsewhere in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. This sector is the primary beneficiary of—what the American Civil Liberties Union recently found to be—the “steady resurgence” of the National Surveillance State on the domestic level.
An inherent flaw of mass-scale models of the ‘representative democracy’ ideal is that the representatives are always for sale and the sector which profits on fear by selling ‘security’ is always the highest bidder after the sector that monopolizes the money supply itself.
EDIT: AntiWar.com director Eric Garris interviewed Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) last week at AntiWar Radio on “The War is Making You Poor Act” he recently introduced, showing he is serious about targeting the military-industrial complex (19:01):