MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

William Hartung, Mission (Im)possible — and You’re Paying for It

Posted by M. C. on February 4, 2022

When all else fails, the Pentagon’s fallback argument for the F-35 is the number of jobs it will create in states or districts of key members of Congress. As it happens, virtually any other investment of public funds would build back better with more jobs than F-35s would. Treating weapons systems as jobs programs, however, has long helped pump up Pentagon spending way beyond what’s needed to provide an adequate defense of the United States and its allies.

As it happens, though, there are just a few teeny, weeny glitches with it. For one thing, it reportedly can’t reliably either launch or retrieve the planes that make it an aircraft carrier. And for good measure, according to Bloomberg News, it can’t defend itself effectively from incoming missiles either. 

https://tomdispatch.com/what-a-waste/

Whatever the U.S. military may be considered, it isn’t usually thought of as a scam operation. Maybe it’s time to change that way of thinking, though. After all, we’re talking about a crew with a larger “defense” budget than the next 11 countries combined (and no, that’s not a misprint). Mind you, I’m not even focusing here on how a military funded, supplied, and armed like no other on this planet has proven incapable of winning a war in this century, no matter the money and effort put out. No, what’s on my mind is its weaponry in which American taxpayers have invested so many endless billions of dollars.

For example, take the latest, most up-to-date, most expensive aircraft carrier in history, the USS Gerald Ford. (Yes, it’s named after the president everyone’s forgotten, the one who took over the White House when Richard Nixon fled town in disgrace.)  Hey, what a bargain it was when Huntington Ingalls Industries delivered that vessel to the Navy for a mere (and no this isn’t a misprint either) $13 billion — $20 billion, if you’re including the aircraft it carries. And it only represents the first of a four-ship, $57-billion program.  You might imagine that, with $13 billion invested in a single ship, you’d be getting the sort of vessel that would do Star Trek proud, a futuristic creation for at least the 21st, if not the 22nd century of war.

As it happens, though, there are just a few teeny, weeny glitches with it. For one thing, it reportedly can’t reliably either launch or retrieve the planes that make it an aircraft carrier. And for good measure, according to Bloomberg News, it can’t defend itself effectively from incoming missiles either.  After “cannibalizing” parts from another aircraft carrier under construction, it is, however, finally being deployed, only four years late.

Honestly, it would be easy enough to think that I was writing a ridiculous parody here, but no such luck. And, remarkably enough, as TomDispatch regular and Pentagon expert William Hartung points out today, that ship is anything but alone in the U.S. arsenal. Just see his comments below on the F-35 jet fighter for another obvious example. In fact, as you read Hartung, ask yourself whether this boondoggle — and just about the only thing that Congress can agree on with remarkable unanimity — turns out to be a “defense” version of Watergate. So, where’s Gerald R. Ford when we really need him? Tom

What a Waste!

$778 Billion for the Pentagon and Still Counting

By William Hartung

2021 was another banner year for the military-industrial complex, as Congress signed off on a near-record $778 billion in spending for the Pentagon and related work on nuclear warheads at the Department of Energy. That was $25 billion more than the Pentagon had even asked for.

It can’t be emphasized enough just how many taxpayer dollars are now being showered on the Pentagon. That department’s astronomical budget adds up, for instance, to more than four times the cost of the most recent version of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which sparked such horrified opposition from Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and other alleged fiscal conservatives. Naturally, they didn’t blink when it came to lavishing ever more taxpayer dollars on the military-industrial complex.

Opposing Build Back Better while throwing so much more money at the Pentagon marks the ultimate in budgetary and national-security hypocrisy. The Congressional Budget Office has determined that, if current trends continue, the Pentagon could receive a monumental $7.3 trillion-plus over the next decade, more than was spent during the peak decade of the Afghan and Iraq wars, when there were up to 190,000 American troops in those two countries alone. Sadly, but all too predictably, President Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops and contractors from Afghanistan hasn’t generated even the slightest peace dividend. Instead, any savings from that war are already being plowed into programs to counter China, official Washington’s budget-justifying threat of choice (even if outshone for the moment by the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine). And all of this despite the fact that the United States already spends three times as much as China on its military.

The Pentagon budget is not only gargantuan, but replete with waste — from vast overcharges for spare parts to weapons that don’t work at unaffordable prices to forever wars with immense human and economic consequences. Simply put, the current level of Pentagon spending is both unnecessary and irrational.

Price Gouging on Spare Parts

See the rest here

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