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Posts Tagged ‘Defense Production Act’

Tomgram: Mandy Smithberger, Bailing Out the War State | TomDispatch

Posted by M. C. on May 5, 2020

In fact, continuing to prioritize the U.S. military will only further weaken the country’s public health system. As a start, simply to call up doctors and nurses in the military reserves, as even Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has pointed out, would hurt the broader civilian response to the pandemic. After all, in their civilian lives many of them now work at domestic hospitals and medical centers deluged by Covid-19 patients.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176696/tomgram%3A_mandy_smithberger%2C_bailing_out_the_war_state/#more

Posted by Mandy Smithberger

In this century, the war-fighting performance of the U.S. military has proven woeful indeed and both the Pentagon high command and key Trump administration officials have evidently been incapable of drawing obvious conclusions from that fact. Or think of it another way: even the president who can’t tell Lysol from a helpful prescription drug has noticed that something is truly wrong with America’s war in Afghanistan. This should have long been obvious. After all, almost 19 years after the U.S. invaded that country on a mission to destroy the Taliban, as well as al-Qaeda, and “liberate” Afghans, thousands of American troops, advisers, and contractors (though officially being drawn down) remain there, along with striking amounts of U.S. air power. And, of course, Washington is still embroiled in a conflict with the Taliban, which now controls ever more of the Afghan countryside, as well as other insurgent groups, including a spinoff of the Islamic State. (Meanwhile, spin-offs from the original al-Qaeda operate across significant parts of the Greater Middle East and Africa.)

Now, add into that equation the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s clear that the coronavirus is spreading from Iran into poverty-stricken Afghanistan via hundreds of thousands of Afghans heading home from that country into crowded cities lacking the most basic health care or even hot water and soap for hand-washing. In other words, as I’ve written elsewhere, the U.S. military is now certain to find itself embroiled in pandemic wars that could make events on the Covid-19-ridden aircraft carrier USS Roosevelt look like next to nothing. Stranger yet, the “very stable genius” who often seems to grasp so little has, NBC News reports, grasped this and has been pushing his national security team daily “to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan amid concerns about a major coronavirus outbreak in the war-torn country.” By now, you probably have some sense of what it might be like to have Donald Trump push you daily.

Yet hand it to the Pentagon and crew: they haven’t agreed to his request. Instead, his “military advisers” have reportedly pointed out to him, in true Trumpian fashion (via an analogy from hell), that “if the U.S. pulls troops out of Afghanistan because of the coronavirus, by that standard the Pentagon would also have to withdraw from places like Italy.” Gasp!

Now, don’t misunderstand me: this country’s top military figures and national-security types may be hopeless when it comes to waging war successfully in the twenty-first century, but they’re by no means hopeless. They couldn’t be more skilled or more successful when it comes to getting themselves and the rest of the military-industrial complex funded at levels that are historically mind-boggling. As TomDispatch regular and director of the Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight Mandy Smithberger points out so strikingly today, their skill in making use of this pandemic moment to ensure that funding flows ever more quickly and copiously into the complex is beyond compare. If America’s forever wars were funding ones, the winners would be instantly obvious. Tom

Beware the Pentagon’s Pandemic Profiteers
Hasn’t the Military-Industrial Complex Taken Enough of Our Money?
By Mandy Smithberger

At this moment of unprecedented crisis, you might think that those not overcome by the economic and mortal consequences of the coronavirus would be asking, “What can we do to help?” A few companies have indeed pivoted to making masks and ventilators for an overwhelmed medical establishment. Unfortunately, when it comes to the top officials of the Pentagon and the CEOs running a large part of the arms industry, examples abound of them asking what they can do to help themselves.

It’s important to grasp just how staggeringly well the defense industry has done in these last nearly 19 years since 9/11. Its companies (filled with ex-military and defense officials) have received trillions of dollars in government contracts, which they’ve largely used to feather their own nests. Data compiled by the New York Times showed that the chief executive officers of the top five military-industrial contractors received nearly $90 million in compensation in 2017. An investigation that same year by the Providence Journal discovered that, from 2005 to the first half of 2017, the top five defense contractors spent more than $114 billion repurchasing their own company stocks and so boosting their value at the expense of new investment.

To put this in perspective in the midst of a pandemic, the co-directors of the Costs of War Project at Brown University recently pointed out that allocations for the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health for 2020 amounted to less than 1% of what the U.S. government has spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone since 9/11. While just about every imaginable government agency and industry has been impacted by the still-spreading coronavirus, the role of the defense industry and the military in responding to it has, in truth, been limited indeed. The highly publicized use of military hospital ships in New York City and Los Angeles, for example, not only had relatively little impact on the crises in those cities but came to serve as a symbol of just how dysfunctional the military response has truly been.

 

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