The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewTom Engelhardt Archive
William Hartung: The Pentagon Budget as Corporate Welfare for Weapons Makers
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

What company gets the most money from the U.S. government? The answer: the weapons maker Lockheed Martin. As the Washington Post recently reported, of its $51 billion in sales in 2017, Lockheed took in $35.2 billion from the government, or close to what the Trump administration is proposing for the 2019 State Department budget. And which company is in second place when it comes to raking in the taxpayer dollars? The answer: Boeing with a mere $26.5 billion. And mind you, that’s before the good times even truly begin to roll, as TomDispatch regular and weapons industry expert William Hartung makes clear today in a deep dive into the (ir)realities of the Pentagon budget. When it comes to the Department of Defense, though, perhaps we should retire the term “budget” altogether, given its connotation of restraint. Can’t we find another word entirely? Like the Pentagon cornucopia?

Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that perfectly sober reportage about Pentagon funding issues isn’t satire in the style of the New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz. Take, for instance, a recent report in the Washington Examiner that Army Secretary Mark Esper and other Pentagon officials are now urging Congress to release them from a September 30th deadline for fully dispersing their operation and maintenance funds (about 40% of the department’s budget). In translation, they’re telling Congress that they have more money than even they can spend in the time allotted.

It’s hard to be forced to spend vast sums in a rush when, for instance, you’re launching a nuclear arms “race” of one by “modernizing” what’s already the most advanced arsenal on the planet over the next 30 years for a mere trillion-plus dollars (a sum that, given the history of Pentagon budgeting, is sure to rise precipitously). In that context, let Hartung usher you into the wondrous world of what, in the age of The Donald, might be thought of (with alliteration in mind) as the Plutocratic Pentagon.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Military Spending 
Hide 8 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
    []
  1. It’s hard to be forced to spend vast sums in a rush when, for instance, you’re launching a nuclear arms “race” of one by “modernizing” what’s already the most advanced arsenal on the planet over the next 30 years for a mere trillion-plus dollars (a sum that, given the history of Pentagon budgeting, is sure to rise precipitously).

    I doubt there will be new “nuclear race”, in fact–I know so. Plus, the United States does have issues with her nuclear triad and, as more info is becoming available, US Navy already ran into problems with its substitute for venerable Ohio-class SSBNs, Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine. GAO report on this sub is rather damning, to put it mildly. Russia, meanwhile, officially confirmed that series production of S-500 has commenced. US military-industrial complex has a lot of money, it doesn’t have understanding what is needed to actually provide national defense and security. Expect more “F-35″ type flops in the future.

  2. I served in the USAF as a developmental test engineer, so I’m intimately familiar with the preternatural ability of the military establishment to blow money.

    But we should all remember: the money wasted by the military is almost penny-ante stuff compared to the cash wasted by the welfare state. Military spending is 21% of the federal budget. Various programs of transfer payments account for just over 60%.

    https://www.usgovernmentspending.com/federal_budget_pie

    And here’s something not understood by non-technical people. Inventing the world’s best technology requires large numbers of people building and maintaining proficiency in the most difficult areas of science and engineering. It’s like mastering a musical instrument in that it requires years of training and discipline followed by a daily regimen of practice to stay at your peak. And that accounts for a lot of what you’re spending in the research and development field.

  3. @The Grate Deign

    It’s like mastering a musical instrument in that it requires years of training and discipline followed by a daily regimen of practice to stay at your peak.

    Sorry to contradict (while generally agreeing with your message) but if F-35, LCS or issues with new SSBN, among many other things, are defined as “staying at the peak”, it sort of becomes only natural to question what is NOT being at the peak? What is peak anyway?

    • Replies: @The Grate Deign
  4. Mr bob says:
    @The Grate Deign

    If you want to invent the ‘world’s best technology” do it in the private sector for the actual benefit of thr world, not the literal destruction of it. Not with stolen money and for the explicit intention of murdering foreigners. Just because you the machines and systems you manage to build (again, using stolen money) are technologically nice and shiny and impressive, that doesn’t justify the warfare state.

  5. @Andrei Martyanov

    Good question. Answers that come to my mind are:

    1. Don’t confuse the effectiveness of a weapons system with the difficulty of the technological challenge that went into building it.

    2. Congress badly adulterates the process. When I was in the USAF, the B-1B was relatively new, and it had the distinction of having at least one component manufactured in every congressional district in the country. That’s the only way it could get paid for.

    3. Sometimes the systems program offices (or, at least that’s what they used to call them) are staffed by officers who don’t know a lot. So some uniformed guy from the SPO visits Raytheon Missile Systems and hasn’t got a clue what the engineers are doing in there. Yet he’s in charge.

    4. Sometimes a weapons system is designed for a very specific threat. Then it gets applied where it doesn’t belong.

    Despite all these problems and the occasionally clunker quality of a weapons system, the guys who are inventing and perfecting the technology are still doing their geeky thing, keeping their hand in. When a difficult moment comes, you’re surprised at how effective they can be.

    When the USAF needed to bust into Saddam Hussein’s German-made bunkers, the standard munition, back then called the I-2000, couldn’t penetrate well enough. So the guys at Armament Division, Eglin AFB, took an artillery gun barrel, modified the fins from a regular GBU (guided bomb unit), and within a couple of days, had a munition that busted through to the core of the previously impenetrable bunker. The right guys, the right practice, the right steel, the right fuze, and ka-boom.

    I have often wondered what the German bunker designers said about that. Never did hear.

    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov
  6. @The Grate Deign

    Military spending is 21% of the federal budget. Various programs of transfer payments account for just over 60%.

    Oh sure, include the SS I’ve paid into the past 45 years in that. Take out SS and what does your ‘fraud’ add up to vs. the MIC budgets? Remember what food stamps and section 8 are there for, ghetto pacification. The Kleptocracy had better feed the hungry zombies they created or the streets they and their own travel could become very much unfriendlier than they already are.

    I’m hardly a bleeding heart, but I am practical.

    • Replies: @The Grate Deign
  7. @Jim Christian

    Almost everybody gets far more out of Social Security than they pay into it. I’m old and have many old relatives. Without exception, they get more than they gave. It’s still a transfer payment program, but with a veneer of respectability applied.

    As for the welfare state pacifying savage tribes in urban jungles, it’s really having the opposite effect, don’t you think?

  8. @The Grate Deign

    4. Sometimes a weapons system is designed for a very specific threat. Then it gets applied where it doesn’t belong.

    I agree, but then again–here we run into the issue of doctrines, both overall defensive and technological. There is very little doubt that American engineers and scientists are very competent. The issue is institutional and that is what produces such whoppers as F-35 or LCS. These are NOT, as you stated, “occasional” weapon systems–those are in the foundation of what in US is defined as a national defense and long ago became a trend.

    3. Sometimes the systems program offices (or, at least that’s what they used to call them) are staffed by officers who don’t know a lot. So some uniformed guy from the SPO visits Raytheon Missile Systems and hasn’t got a clue what the engineers are doing in there. Yet he’s in charge.

    This could be the (part) of the answer.

Current Commenter
says:

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Tom Engelhardt Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
Eight Exceptional(ly Dumb) American Achievements of the Twenty-First Century
How the Security State’s Mania for Secrecy Will Create You
Delusional Thinking in the Age of the Single Superpower