This phenomenon is called the bow wave, "referring to the process by which current research and development initiatives, initially relatively modest in cost, invariably lock in commitments to massive spending down the road. Traditionally, such waves start to form at times when the military is threatened with possible spending cutbacks due to the end of a war or some other budgetary crisis."
This is what happened in the wake of the first Cold War's end when congressional representative and House Speaker Jim Wright had convened a committee of fellow representatives to discuss and pass legislation on behalf of an economic conversion, translating into the "peace dividend." This included consideration of a bill sponsored by representative Tim Weiss, which called for the establishment of Alternative Use Committees composed of those from labor and management in the defense industry who would prepare "a complete technical economic plan for the use of the people and facilities following termination of work for the Pentagon."
The legislation would have also mandated occupational retraining for engineers and managers who were veterans of the Pentagon for 10 years or longer to ensure proper training in cost-minimizing instead of the entrenched practice of cost-maximizing fostered in the defense industry. The conversion program would have been overseen by the Commerce Department to encourage all levels of government to prepare their budgets accordingly in support of conversion.
In the weeks following the bill's historic introduction, however, a smear campaign against Speaker Wright was initiated -- led by Newt Gingrich, whose district just happened to be home to the headquarters of Lockheed Martin -- based on trumped-up charges of financial misconduct, forcing Wright's resignation.
With the bill's most powerful shepherd effectively eliminated, the legislation died quietly.
Cockburn cited bow waves happening after pullbacks from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the end of our war in Vietnam.
Joe Lauria, a veteran foreign affairs journalist based at the UN since 1990, recently wrote of his conversation with a top European diplomat who privately admitted a similar phenomenon was at work with regards to NATO and hyping the "Russian threat."
Two years ago I was in a background briefing with a senior European ambassador at his country's U.N. mission in New York and could hardly believe my ears when he said talk about Russia's threat to Eastern Europe was "all hype" designed to give NATO "a reason to exist." Yet this same ambassador in public Security Council meetings would viciously attack Russia.
But the hype is about more than just saving NATO. The fear campaign feeds the American and European military industries and most importantly puts pressure on the Russian government, which the U.S. wants overthrown.
To buttress this interpretation of the threat of Russia being a dangerous myth promulgated to prop up the merchants of death and the imperialist ideologues in Washington, the chairman of NATO's military committee, General Petr Pavel, admitted during a press conference in Brussels in recent weeks that Russia was not considered a threat:
It is not the aim of NATO to create a military barrier against broad-scale Russian aggression, because such aggression is not on the agenda and no intelligence assessment suggests such a thing.
As Brown concludes in his review of Perry's book, we seem to be potentially "sleepwalking" into Armageddon.
While many complain of the obvious dysfunction in Washington, few see the incomparably greater danger of "nuclear doom" because it is hidden and out of public consciousness. Despite an election year filled with commentary and debate, no one is discussing the major issues that trouble Parry. It is another example of the rigid conformity that often dominates public discourse. Long ago, I saw this in the Vietnam War and later in the invasion of Iraq; intelligent people were doing mindless -- and catastrophic -- things. "Sleepwalking" is the term historians now use for the stupidities that got European leaders into World War I and for the mess they unleashed at Versailles. And sleepwalking still continues as NATO and Russia trade epithets and build their armies and Moscow and Washington modernize their nuclear overkill. A new cold war. Fortunately, Bill Parry is not sleepwalking and he is telling us, in My Journey at the Nuclear Brink, to wake up before it is too late.- Advertisement -
*Note: William Parry is currently a member of the American Committee for East West Accord, which seeks detente between the U.S. and Russia