the really big money

LI is in the midst of doing some serious work – or seriously procrastinating doing some serious work. Thus, the post we planned on Carlos Ginzburg’s essay on the ‘prehistory of making it strange’, which we have been reading in the collection, Wooden Eyes, is just going to have to wait.

In the meantime, before it sinks below the horizon, we noticed this article in the Sunday NYT business section: Pentagon struggles with cost overruns and delays.

LI is for a reasonable amount of military spending – on par with China, for instance. About 40 to 80 billion per year. Cutting down to that level would mean avoiding things like this:

“In recent Congressional hearings and reports from the Government Accountability Office, Congress’s investigative arm, the Pentagon has been portrayed as so mired in bureaucracy and so enamored of the latest high-tech gadgetry that multi-billion-dollar weapon systems are running years behind in development and are dangerously over budget.

The Pentagon reported last April, in response to questions from lawmakers, that 36 of its major next-generation weapon systems are over budget, some by as much as 50 percent.

The G.A.O. estimated that cost overruns on 23 weapon systems it studied in April came to $23 billion. In addition, there were delays of at least a year in delivering these weapons, with some programs running as much as four years late, like the Army’s $130 billion Future Combat Systems to provide soldiers new computerized ground equipment.”

When the prototype of the war culture was set up, after WWII, southern senators, like Johnson and Richard Russell of Georgia, made sure that the military seeded the South. That meant putting bases in the South, but it also meant bringing military tech companies to the South, to provide a manufacturing base that the South sorely needed. In effect, the funds the Europeans put into developing the economies of Spain and Greece were paralleled by the money the U.S. – mainly the investor North – put into Dixie.

Unfortunately, those decisions have created a war machine that continues to expand through thick and thin, linked to the fortunes of the most conservative part of the country. In this part of the country, opposition to big government, which is not so secretly opposition to any government program that might advantage blacks, is linked by bonds as tight as any that connected Chang and Eng to support for the war culture that is a threat to every human on the planet.

Here is a rundown of Pentagon costs. Or, put otherwise: here is an indictment of the American government for crimes against humanity:

“The G.A.O. found that financial sloppiness went beyond weapon systems. For instance, at a time when the Pentagon was buying new chemical suits for use in Iraq for $200 each, it was also selling them on the Internet for $3 each after some military units misidentified the suits as surplus. And about $1.2 billion in supplies that were shipped to Iraq never arrived — or were never found — because of logistical problems.

"But the really big money is in weapons. New weapons are expected to cost at least $1.4 trillion from now to 2009, with $800 billion of those expenditures yet to be made, according to the Pentagon. Weapons systems are one of the largest purchases made by the federal government, and the Pentagon’s weapons-buying program has doubled from $700 billion before 9/11.

"Since 9/11, the Pentagon budget and supplemental spending on Iraq have grown to over $500 billion a year. This compares with a Pentagon budget of $291 billion before 9/11. (If measured in today’s dollars, pre-9/11 spending would come to $330 billion, according to the Pentagon.)”

Withdrawing from Iraq, as LI has often maintained, is just one in a mix of policy changes to stabilize and soften the American presence in the Middle East – a place, by the way, in which there is no need for a single U.S. military base. Another part of that mix is figuring out how to destroy the military-industrial alien that has become America’s child. Military goods are not just hazards to humans, of course – the military is the greatest polluter in the world. Among other things, the U.S. military has so polluted various wildernesses in the West – with radioactive materials – that some areas will not recover for thousands of years. Literally.
What kind of civilization does that? What kind spends 500 billion a year on the military without any discussion whatsoever?