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Old 02-07-2009   #1
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Military-Industrial-Complex topic

I thought I would start this thread since the other military thread was geared more toward "volunteer" military rather than the MIC.

I read this article today and I think the author, Chalmers Johnson, touches on some very valid points in regards to what is and has been going wrong with the MIC.

ZNet - Pentagon Crisis

To clarify: Timbertroll mentioned that before we get "too riled up over the MIC" to remember that many positive things have come out of this industry. I agree. When I talk about this I don't think an "evil" exists in this industry - maybe greed, but not evil. Part of my family is actually very closely tied into this industry (brother-in-law's father was the CEO of General Dynamics) He is a good and loving person and there is nothing evil or sinister about him.

Eisenhower also said in his speech:

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
I do not think that the MIC or the "standing army" should be dismantled because it really is an "imperative need" in today's world; however, I do think it is in serious need of being reformed, especially because of our current economic troubles. This is what the article I posted suggests.

Now, I say this very lightly - because I could be wrong.... But, regardless of what you think about Iraq, Afghanistan and America's foreign policy, it appears - to some- that America is having a few similar parallels to that of the last decade of the Russian empire...that being.... A failing "interventionist" war, internal government corruption, a crumbling economy, insolvency problems and the inability to reform before it was too late. I'm not saying that these parallels are an exact replica nor do I pretend to know "exactly" what brought down the Russian empire, but some similarities seem to exist - at least to me... and I could be wrong. I got to this perspective by taking the ideological context out of the picture - and of course by reading tons of "leftist-commie" articles .

Now, for Helio, this is a warning because this is the same author that you were so disgusted with because he called Bush's wars, "Imperialistic" within the first paragraph of an article I posted last year. We then bickered back and forth about "journalistic qualities" etc, etc. and eventually you ended up reading it and agreeing with some of his points.


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Old 02-07-2009   #2
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Marko, I'll get to the link on Monday next week when I'm on Government time in the MIC.

There are some things about the debate that are meaningful to me, though. I think most of these are subject headings, and I'm not going to dive deep into them (unless I do after this paragraph, WTF knows with me).

1) That which Eisenhower was really disturbed about was what we now call 'lobbying'. It seems to me he was aware that the nepotistic nature of relationships between Industry, Politics, and Military was self-perpetuating. So in that sense, Eisenhower's biggest contribution was toward an awareness of the lobbying issue.

The hegemony of the MIC, while it still probably exists in a very strong fashion, waned as consumerism grew in the US.

2) Regarding military spending, I have two points
2a) The United States is unlike almost any other country on earth in that the voting population abhors casualties (particularly fatalities). I assign this trend to the American Civil War. It seems to be inherent to our culture that military casualties = incompetent political leadership.

The scale has changed since Vietnam, but the trend remains. The best example I can give is World War 2: US casualties in WW2 were quite small compared to any major combatant. D-day is seen as 'the turning point' of World War 2 when in fact it was a relatively minor casualty figure for any campaign of the war. (It was, however, a logistical masterpiece of warfare unlike anything seen before or after).

My point here is that I believe one of the things that makes the modern (Vietnam and later) US war fighting capability so awesome is that our soldiers are without doubt the best equipped, supplied, and protected in the world. That is a benefit of the MIC.

2b) The inefficiency of any government buraucracy (that's a word I never seem to spell right) is as big a problem as is the nepotistic relationship between industry and politics.

At least in the contract where I work, and in general since the Iraq war, the Department of Defense is attempting (emphasis) to adopt Lean processes (think six sigma), new accounting, and most importantly, new accountability programs to reduce waste. It's learning from general for-profit business in this regard, and about the only thing I'm proud of at my contract is that my company is an industry leader in providing value for the money we receive. My own job notwithstanding...

"self-aggrandizing jackass" - it says it right on the label
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Old 02-07-2009   #3
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I personally think our current level of defense spending is not sustainable. For example our per capita defense spending ($2347/person) is almost double that of the next country, Israel ($1362). This is interesting because Israel faces an existential Arab threat daily, while it is unlikely that, with our huge nuclear arsenal, we will, in the near future, ever face a truly existential threat.

What we should be maintaining is our capacity to produce weapons.
Its true that developing the latest weapons helps our country in wars. Nobody can deny that. However, developing the latest and greatest makes anybody who views us a potential future foe (China for example) want to develop a counter weapon. While we may not spread our F-22 or whatever other new toy we have around the world, its very possible the Chinese (just as an example) may spread theirs. It might be a better approach to mothball some of our production, and find a way to encourage General Dynamics and Raytheon to develop civilian technologies as well. A current example of this process in action is the U.S. airline industry. In a time of war, theoretically, the government can press all airlinie capacity into military service. Similarly, I don't see the big three auto industries ever being allowed to fail because they also represent a strategic industry. They don't make weapons right now, but if a large, high casualty war developed in the future, we're really going to wan't them around to retool and make Hummers. I think that by mothballing a good deal of our productive capacity, we can avoid a constant unwinnable international arms race. It would also be far better to devote some of the money that is spent on building new weapons every year to civilian causes that will make our country stronger. Green energy might be as important a security issue as having a new strike fighter. With a fighter we can bomb the shit out of whatever middle eastern country we want, but with green energy we won't need to.

Right now we provide free world security to a large number of our allies. Our closest European allies have per capita defense spending that is about a third of ours. The United Kingdom, our closest ally, spends $718 per person. I would like to see our European allies step up to the plate and help us tackle global security issues.
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Old 02-08-2009   #4
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I consider you to have an permanent anti-military bias, so I can't give your thoughts much credibility. No personal offense intended. You have the same permanent bias against the military that CM has against legalization. (or that's how I see it)

Well, your military thoughts...
You're on the right track with the notion of government spending. An economy that is established upon 70 percent domestic consumerism, which imports the vast majority of consumer goods, is clearly on a path to permanent insolvency (unless something changes in time).

I personally can't make up my mind whether I wish to live in the Andes or the Rockies when society collapses. I was thinking the Andes, but there's a lot of Catholicism down there, and anyway, when Antartica melts and becomes a lush teeming jungle, that might make South America the jump off point for all the world's wackos. In which case, I might be better off in the Rockies. Downside there is: Dams, and Theophilus...

Problem with Europe is that all the Western European bloodlines with any balls died off in World War 1 or World War 2...

As for US per-capita spending, bear in mind we have the only meaningful navy on the planet. And the Navy is the lions' share of US Defense budget. And the correlation between navies and security/victory in conflict is pretty remarkably high.

Also, paragraph breaks are your friend.

Finally "with green energy we won't need to (bomb the shit out of someone)"
That's hippy platitude, I'm afraid.
"self-aggrandizing jackass" - it says it right on the label
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Old 02-08-2009   #5
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Personally I don't see how my views on the armed forces represent an anti-military bias. Believing that our country's defense spending should represent 50% of the total defense spending in the world anually seems pretty reasonable. 1/200th of our population is in the active duty armed servies. This seems like an incredible, uneccessary drain on our economy. Pentagon planning right now calls for our military to be able to win decisively in two large conflicts. One of the models that they've used recently is "we have to be able to win a war with both Iran and North Korea simultaneously". That seems like an absurd standard. Another example is the current maintainence of the nucelar triad ( The United States maintains nuclear equipped bombers aloft 24/7 to retaliate against any attack. This is in addition to ICBMs and Nuclear powered submarines. The concept is that if one is destroyed by an attack, the others can retaliate. However, its pretty impossible to destroy all the nuclear submarines in our fleet because they are under the ocean and moving around. Maintaining this triad seems excessive and a waste of national resources.

The problem with Europe right now is that we took over for the British Empire after World War II. Having an empire is a messy affair. The British had to fight continual wars to keep their empire. It just doesn't make sense for our country to be continally at war in that way. Alot of the current global problems are left over from European colonial rule. Expecting European countries to take some responsibility for the messes they created seems only logical.

The "bombing the shit out of.." comment was meant to refer to the sheer scope of the firepower our military has at its command.

When things go to shit, definitely consider the Sierra Nevada. They'll have great ocean views and they've got some pretty good paddling too.

Also we've got to consider that being as armed as we are, we stand the chance of appearing as the world's bully to some. This can really detract from our soft power. Remember, its better to make people want to do what you need instead of making them do what you need. Between Hollywood, McDonald's and Levi (among many others) we have a huge and awesome amount of soft power. They can complain about us, but as long as they eat McDonald's for lunch everyday, they really aren't going to come after us.
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Old 02-08-2009   #6
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Originally Posted by heliodorus04 View Post
Downside there is: Dams, and Theophilus...
When we blow them all you probably won't be able to get up here anyway. but JIC I'll save you a place in the bunker.
"Let us cross the river to the other side and rest beneath the shade of the trees." ~ Last words of Thomas Jonathan ''Stonewall' Jackson
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Old 02-08-2009   #7
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A VERY good speech given on September 10th, 2001. The day before the attack on the WTC. I watched the speech and thought FINALLY somebody is going to take on the DOD.

Read the speech FIRST before you search for who wrote it. You may or may not be surprised.

The adversary's closer to home. It's the Pentagon bureaucracy. Not the people, but the processes. Not the civilians, but the systems. Not the men and women in uniform, but the uniformity of thought and action that we too often impose on them.

In this building, despite this era of scarce resources taxed by mounting threats, money disappears into duplicative duties and bloated bureaucracy—not because of greed, but gridlock. Innovation is stifled—not by ill intent but by institutional inertia.

Every dollar we spend was entrusted to us by a taxpayer who earned it by creating something of value with sweat and skill -- a cashier in Chicago, a waitress in San Francisco. An average American family works an entire year to generate $6,000 in income taxes. Here we spill many times that amount every hour by duplication and by inattention.

That's wrong. It's wrong because national defense depends on public trust, and trust, in turn, hinges on respect for the hardworking people of America and the tax dollars they earn. We need to protect them and their efforts.
"Let us cross the river to the other side and rest beneath the shade of the trees." ~ Last words of Thomas Jonathan ''Stonewall' Jackson
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Old 02-08-2009   #8
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Rummy... how I wish he had a nice suite in Leavenworth.

While he certainly identifies the some of the "bad guys" in that speech, I cannot forgive him for Iraq. He completely fucked it up, both in being a boneheaded cheerleader for the invasion and then being the driving force (with Evil Uncle Dick) behind the moronic "strategery" that followed.

I'm sure even Adolph Hitler made some comments that made some sense. But not many.

Just in case we've forgotten, here are some more Rummy "pearls"...

"It is unknowable how long that conflict [the war in Iraq] will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months." -in Feb. 2003

"We do know of certain knowledge that he [Osama Bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead."

"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." –on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction

"Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war."

"I am not going to give you a number for it because it's not my business to do intelligent work." -asked to estimate the number of Iraqi insurgents while testifying before Congress

"I believe what I said yesterday. I don't know what I said, but I know what I think, and, well, I assume it's what I said."

"Needless to say, the President is correct. Whatever it was he said."

"I'm not into this detail stuff. I'm more concepty."

"I don't do quagmires."

"I don't do diplomacy."

"I don't do foreign policy."

"I don't do predictions."

"I don't do numbers."
You can never step into the same river; for new waters are always flowing on to you. - Heraclitus of Ephesus
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Old 02-08-2009   #9
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Even more disgusting than his comments was the callous arrogant demeanor he said them in,that doesn't come across in a written quote.It was clear Cheney and Rummy thought they were above scrutiny and accountability.

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