Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dirty Little Truths About Pentagon Funding

When the twelve-member super committee fails to cut another 1.5 trillion later this year, then presumably automatic cuts in Medicare and Defense will kick in. To preempt the Defense part of that, Secretary Leon Panetta warned us two days ago that cuts in Defense would threaten our national security. Now, it’s universally known that the U.S. spends more on its military than all the rest of the world combined spends on their respective armies and navies and such. No other nation on the planet spends even a fifth of what we spend militarily. So here’s my na├»ve question for today. How come all these other nations— clearly underfunded by Panetta’s standards— are not being overtaken by aggressors intent on stripping away their security and freedom? How do other countries manage to protect themselves on the cheap? And if they can do it, why can’t we do it?

The answer to that question is in another dirty little secret (America is filled with dirty little secrets). The United States military is NOT primarily about protecting our security or maintaining our freedom. That’s just patriotic feel-good nonsense. It’s all about jobs. The Pentagon is our nation’s biggest jobs program. Manufacturing all those bullets and bombs, as well as the fancy equipment to deliver those commodities to a target— all of this keeps people employed. A lot of people. And here’s the fascinating subtlety. It doesn’t matter whether the U.S. wins its wars or loses them because the consumption of bullets and bombs stays the same in either scenario, just as long as the war doesn’t end. Actually, either an outright victory or defeat is negative for jobs because then the consumption slows down or ends, and there’s a limit to how much you can stockpile. This is why the U.S. is always at war in at least one foreign country, and why the wars go on so long. C’mon, does anyone in their right mind believe the United States wages a war for ten years because it lacks the firepower necessary to take down an enemy in less than a decade?

And here’s another subtlety. A war can come to a stop (a big job killer) if our enemy runs out of their bullets or bombs, so over the years an ingenious system has evolved that allows our own bullets and bombs to find their way into channels that supply the people we are fighting. This effectively doubles the consumption. Did anyone out there think that al Qaeda or the Taliban had their own munitions plants? Of course not.

The only drawback to the entire operation is the death and injury of the troops we hire to do the fighting. But it’s surprising how little most Americans care about this. We never see the protests that were so common in the Vietnam era. Yesterday, 30 Americans were killed in a single incident, but next week people will forget it. The 30 who died were in a helicopter brought down by an RPG in Taliban hands. We’ll never know if that RPG was “made in America,” because the Pentagon will lie about it if they learn the truth.

1 comment:

pixymagic said...

Nice man. Extremely informative post. I'll be sure to pass this along to my friends.
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