“The topic today is an adversary that poses a threat, a serious threat, to the United States of America. This adversary is one of the world’s last bastions of central planning. It governs by dictating five-year plans. From a single capital, it attempts to impose its demands across time zones, continents, oceans and beyond. With a brutal consistency, it stifles free thought and crushes new ideas. It disrupts the defense of the United States and places the lives of men and women in uniform at risk.
Perhaps this adversary sounds like the former Soviet Union, but that enemy is gone; our foes are more subtle and implacable today. You may think I’m describing one of the last decrepit dictators of the world. But their day, too, is almost past, and they cannot match the strength and size of this adversary. The adversary is closer to home: It’s the Pentagon bureaucracy.”
“An average American family works an entire year to generate$6,000 in income taxes. Here we spill many times that amount every hour by duplication and by inattention.”
“Our financial systems are decades old. According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions.”
“We must change for a simple reason – the world has – and we have not yet changed sufficiently. The clearest and most important transformation is from a bipolar Cold War world where threats were visible and predictable, to one in which they arise from multiple sources, most of which are difficult to anticipate, and many of which are impossible even to know today.”
Spoken by Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense, in an address that announced an end to the S.O.P. of waste and fiscal mismanagement at the Pentagon, delivered on September 10, 2001; the day before the 911 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
What would have been an excellent, long-called-for policy shift (from a most unexpected quarter), tossed out with the ‘Ba’ath’ water, so to say.
In the days immediately following, George W. Bush called for $20 Billion to fund the ‘War on Terror’. Since then, he has demanded and gotten a blank check for debacle after debacle, all sanctified by ‘them-or-us’, anti-terrorist bluster and approved by a spineless, bi-partisan, rubber-stamp Congress.
(The cowards in Congress just approved another $257,000,000,000 (two-hundred-fifty-seven billion dollar) emergency supplement to fund the wars through the end of Bush’s term. )
(Any wonder there is no money for universal health care, education or infrastructure projects such as reinforced levees on the Mississippi River? That astronomical figure – more than a quarter of a trillion dollars - is only to help pay for the next 7 months of these hateful wars which so rapaciously destroy lives. Someone should check the Congress for drugs or implants. )
From being on the verge of tightening federal purse-strings to the current open-vault-door policy of hysteria-driven defense spending - financing the building of new nuclear submarines to counter the non-existent Al-Qaeda navy and new super-sonic jet fighters to combat the air force that Al-Qaeda doesn’t have – was a most fortuitous swing of events for the Pentagon and its contractors. This catastrophic bit of malevolent serendipity is what author and journalist, Robert Scheer refers to as the ‘gift of 911’ to the military-industrial complex.
The military-industrial complex; since Eisenhower used that cumbersome phrase in his farewell speech, it has seen plenty of use. Though its initial axiomatic power still resonates, it’s a stock phrase, shop-worn. Moreover, from its inception it has been inadequate. Its failing, despite its power as an axiom of unalloyed truth, is that it hides the people who operate this complex and extremely profitable relationship between government bureaucracy and big business.
It is time to put a face on these people in the Pentagon, in the Congress and in the Defense Department. It is long past time to strip the mask of anonymity from leaders of the arms industry, their lobbyists and their agents. What is needed is a more pertinent, personalizing epithet which exposes the active players of the military-industrial complex.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->1. <!--[endif]-->The autocrats and oligarchs of the Pentagon bureaucracy, Congress and the defense and arms industry who in concert advocate robbing the taxpayer to fund boondoggles, pork-barrel spending and bloated defense budgets for personal profit and political gain.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2. <!--[endif]--> Their agents and functionaries.