MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Secretary of Defense, Incorporated – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on October 12, 2019

Perhaps we should confess to ourselves that the nation’s vaunted soldiers are little more than political pawns in a game that’s far bigger, far more Kafkaesque, than those troopers could begin to fathom. And, finally, let’s admit one last thing: Few of us care.

https://original.antiwar.com/Danny_Sjursen/2019/10/10/secretary-of-defense-incorporated/

This article originally appeared at TruthDig.

 

The man is so beautifully bland. In fact, I’d wager that only a tiny segment of Americans could name the current Secretary of Defense – and far fewer could pick him out of a lineup. Perhaps that’s the point. President Trump, a celebrity ham, has tired of sharing the stage with big-name advisers such as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and national security adviser John Bolton. So they’re both gone. In their place, Trump has installed faceless bureaucrats to run the most powerful national security state in human history. And the rest of us hardly notice.

Trump’s appointment of Mark Esper as head of the largest and most active Cabinet department, and the new Defense Secretary’s near unanimous approval by the U.S. Senate, is no less of a scandal than Trump’s apparent efforts to seek foreign interference in the 2020 elections. Only it isn’t.

Still, the nomination of Esper, a recent lobbyist for the defense contracting corporation Raytheon, ranks as one of the most egregious illustrations of the “revolving door” between lobbyists and the Defense Department. It’s crony capitalism in fatigues, and while nothing new, a clear indication that things have only worsened under our reality-show-mogul-president.

Of course, seen through the rose-colored glasses of American empire, Esper is highly qualified to head the Defense Department. He’s a West Point graduate, former Army infantry officer, recipient of a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard and a doctorate in public policy from George Washington University, and has past experience working in the Pentagon.

If one digs further, however, Esper is wildly problematic—loaded with conflicts of interest, a veteran of the (should be) discredited neoconservative Bush-era DOD, and little more than a corporate “company man.” He didn’t just work for Raytheon, he lobbied on the defense contractor’s behalf only recently. Under rather sharp questioning by Sen. Elizabeth Warren during his confirmation hearings, Esper refused to recuse himself from participating in government business involving Raytheon. In typically lifeless language, Esper replied that “On the advice of my ethics folks at the Pentagon, the career professionals: No, their recommendation is not to.” How’s that for accepting responsibility? No matter, he was swiftly and quietly confirmed by a vote of 90-8 in the Senate.

Expect another banner year for Raytheon. It’s already the third-largest US defense contractor, and produces, among other tools of destruction, Paveway precision-guided missiles—the very weapons that Congress recently sought to stop shipping to Saudi Arabia due to (rather tardy) concerns about the heads of Yemeni civilians upon which they’re dropped.

I predict more deals and more taxpayer billions for Raytheon with Esper at the Defense helm…

All of which begs some questions and provides some disturbing answers. Perhaps we ought to ditch the myth that the Defense Secretary simply heads the Pentagon, and admit that Esper is really the emperor of a far grander military-industrial complex that includes a veritable army of K-Street lobbyists and venal arms dealers. Maybe it’s time to concede that unelected national security czars, and not a stalemated bought-and-sold Congress, run national defense and set the gigantic Pentagon budget. Perhaps we should confess to ourselves that the nation’s vaunted soldiers are little more than political pawns in a game that’s far bigger, far more Kafkaesque, than those troopers could begin to fathom. And, finally, let’s admit one last thing: Few of us care.

Be seeing you

Grand Theft Pentagon :Tales of Corruption and Profiteering ...

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