Flimsy Sanity: Why to not let your sons become soldiers

Flimsy Sanity

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why to not let your sons become soldiers

How Much Are You Making on the War Daddy? A Quick and Dirty Guide to War Profiteering in the Bush Administration by William D. Hartung (Paperback - Dec 5, 2003)

Book Description
Columnist Paul Krugman has described Bush’s melding of political hardball and economic favoritism as “crony capitalism,” while Senator John McCain calls it war profiteering. George W. Bush’s approach to military spending is a higher-priced version of what went on under the Suharto regime in Indonesia, when corporations connected to the military and the president’s inner circle had the inside track on lucrative government contracts. The military budget has increased from $300 billion to more than $400 billion annually since George W. Bush took office. The Iraq invasion and occupation will cost at least another $200 billion over the next three to five years. U.S. policy is now based on what’s good for Chevron, Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Bechtel, not what’s good for the average citizen. Dick Cheney’s ties to conglomerate Halliburton are the tip of the iceberg since at least thirty-two top officials in the Bush administration served as executives or paid consultants to top weapons contractors before joining the administration. In George W. Bush’s Washington, it has reached the point where you can’t tell the generals from the arms lobbyists without a scorecard. This book provides that scorecard, in a style designed to provoke action for change.
And this review by CG, Washington State:
The author points out how Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense in 1976, was a prime mover behind the CIA's infamous Team B. That panel forced acceptance of its "findings' that the Soviet Union was rapidly overtaking the United States in military power. The author notes that the Soviet archives reveal that even the supposedly too low original estimate of the CIA was vastly exaggerated. .Rumsfeld of course, played a key role in the late 90's arms industry funded movement to portray North Korea as able to quickly develop missles to hit the U.S. These frauds avoided addressing the issue of whether North Korea would really build up some missiles, then just haul off and launch them at the United States, knowing full well North Korea would be wiped off the planet in retaliation. Rumsfeld, he observes, played a role in opening the funnel of American arms and WMD materials to Saddam in his visits with Saddam in 1983-84.
He shows how Rumsfeld might have alerted Carlyle Group CEO Frank Carlucci about the planned cancellation of one of it's subsidiary's programs to build the Crusader artillery system. Several months before the cancellation, Carlyle suddenly put the subsidiary on the stock market so that it might draw in shareholders and took out a huge loan based on the inflation of the value of the subsidiary and distributed it to shareholders and execs. Carlyle is of course the group which George Bush Sr. advises and whose executive James Baker and his law firm are representing the Saudi royal family against the families of 9-11 victims.
Rumsfeld was on the board of the Swiss engineering firm ABB for years.. That firm made the contract to oversee the construction of North Korea's two light water nuclear reactors. North Korea of course is one of the reasons we have to spend 400 billion on defense according to people like Rumsfeld who of course advocates that the reactor deal shouldn't have been made. . Rumsfeld claimed ludicrously to know nothing about the deal. Of all the ABB board members, all but one, who insisted on anonymity refused to talk to a Fortune magazine reporter about Rumsfeld and this deal. Rumsfeld is obviously very feared, the author notes.
He discusses the deal that had the Pentagon be leased a hundred Boeing commercial aircraft to be transformed into aerial refueling tankers. And it seems from documents released by John McCain's office that Darleen Dryun, Airforce undersecretary, gave Boeing the details of its rival Airbus's bid for the project. Dryun then quit her Pentagon job to become a top official of Boeing's Missile Defense division. The author discusses the none-too subtle campaign contributions made to Senator Ted Stevens, Senate appropriations chair just before this deal was put through.

The author notes that Richard Perle, while head of the Defense policy board, used that position to try to lobby some rich Saudis into investing in his new security oriented firm, Trieme. Perle claimed that he wanted to talk about Iraq, but his interlocutor in the deal, Adnan Koshoggi of Iran-Contra fame, only mentioned in his message to the Saudis about investing in Trieme. Then Stephen Laboton of the New York Times revealed that Perle offered his services to the bankrupt telecom firm Global Crossing to influence the U.S. government to allow it to sell one of its firms to China, which is not allowed to receive U.S. high tech resources. Perle advertised himself in his affidavit to Global Crossing as someone with great insider connections because of his post. Perle insisted that this affidavit was a clerical error. He tried to use his influence to allow Loral to resume selling high tech satellite stuff to China. According to Hirsch none of Perle's fellow board members knew of the existence of Trieme and were quite upset about it.
Then there's the redoubtable Mr. Cheney and Halliburton. After going through the motions of competitive bidding under public pressure, the army corp of Engineers suddenly accelerated the schedule for work in Iraq's oil infrastructure so that Halliburton would be the best placed firm to do that under the schedule, it already being in Iraq as a result of a no bid contract to put out oil fires. Cheney receives hundreds of thousands in "deferred compensation" from the company. He denied any remaining "ties' with the firm but his spokesperson, accoding to the author, said that the deferred payment technically did not constitute a "tie."
The author notes one of the more blatantly questionable appointments in the present administration, former Lockheed Martin executive Everett Beckner being picked to oversee the Nevada Nuclear test site, which Lockheed partly runs. Many Bush officials sit on the board of groups like the Center for Security Policy run by Frank Gafney Jr. Gafney dosen't seem to think his intellectual integrity is compromised by his group being funded by the arms companies who stand to make huge profits with the policies he advocates. The author cites some statistics about the dramatic rise in CEO pay since 9-11. He points out that Lockheed Martin's annual income from government contracts is more than that for the top Federal program for the poor. The Leave No Child Behind Program is being underfunded by 10 billion.
About 800 million in taxpayer money was used to subsidize the merger of Lockheed and Martin Marietta, supposedly to encourage these two firms to consolidate, making them more efficient. This Clinton administration encouraged merging has left a few big firms in control of the arms market and with this oligopoly are in an even better position to easily get expensive contracts from the government. The merging-consolidation has also encouraged defense worker layoffs as this impresses shareholders that the firm is trying to become efficient.

Maybe you believe the bullshit about patriotism and duty, but I don't.


  • At 12:04 PM, Anonymous michael greenwell said…

    did you ever hear the bill hicks bit about patriotism being ridiculous? he was aksed if he was proud to be american and he said ' well..my parents f*cked here. i didn't have much to do with it. he then said it could wiped out if we just put pictures of our parents f*cking on flags instead of stars and stripes!

  • At 1:23 PM, Blogger Flimsy Sanity said…

    Michael: Exactly - I tried to picture it but I still have a hard time thinking of Frank and Betty having sex. Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it. --George Bernard Shaw

    In schools all over the world, little boys learn that their country is the greatest in the world, and the highest honor that could befall them would be to defend it heroically someday. The fact that empathy has traditionally been conditioned out of boys facilitates their obedience to leaders who order them to kill strangers. -Myriam Miedzian

  • At 8:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Patriotism is for little people - kind of like taxes.


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