Democrats & Liberals Archives

Republican Rings of Corruption

II - Republican/Arms Industry Ring

The longest, biggest, most lucrative, most dangerous and most corrupt corruption loop is the Military Industrial Complex. For many decades, it has been an equal-opportunity source of money and power for both Democrats and Republicans. But with the advent of the Bush administration, corruption has reached such new and unbelievable heights that I must relabel it the Republican/Arms Industry Ring.

MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

In his farewell address on January 17, 1961, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the American hero that guided us to victory in World War II, warned the country about the potential for corruption in the arms industry:

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense...so that security and liberty may prosper together."

We did not heed Ike's message. When he spoke the defense budget was $62 billion; in 2004 it was over $400 billion. America's military budget is as big as that of the next 15 countries combined. In the 2004 election cycle, the arms industry contributed more than $13 million to candidates. Republicans received 62%; Democrats, 38%.

Contributing companies got their money's worth. Let's look at Lockheed Martin, the top arms dealer. In 2000, Lockheed spent $9.8 million lobbying, and in 2001 it received a $200 billion contract for the Joint Strike Fighter. In 2004, Lockheed made campaign contributions of about $1.9 million, and in the same year, received contracts worth $20.7 billion. Lockheed sells the F117, which was used in Iraq for "shock and awe." It also sells the PAC3 Patriot missile at $91 million a piece.

Oh yes, Haley Barbour, former head of the Republican National Committee, recently became a lobbyist for Lockheed Martin. This is part of what is called "the revolving door." First you work in the military, or Congress, or politics, or the Defense Department; then you get a job in an arms company. Or vice versa, you become an executive in an arms company; then you get a job in government. All you need are contacts and you make lots of lucre.

Maybe this military-industrial complex is at least part of the reason why, since Ike spoke, we mounted "military actions" in Lebanon, Granada, Libya, Panama, Persian Gulf, Somalia, Haiti, Yugoslavia, Kosovo and Iraq, as well as Afghanistan. Also, it may be related to our having over 800 military installations all over the world.

SOLE-SUPERPOWER SYNDROME

"We're the sole superpower."

This is what Bush, his cabinet, members of Congress, journalists, pundits and any American who has an opinion about current affairs keep repeating. It's the answer to everything. It's the reason we must act - to save the world, eradicate evil from the world, do what is right. Since we are good and right about things, we can impose our will on communist, authoritarian, dysfunctional or "rogue" nations. Since we are the "sole superpower" it is up to us to mold the world in our image.

Why pay attention to treaties? How can you be sure the other country will do what it signs up to do? No need to trust them. Get rid of treaties. We can do this because we are the "sole superpower." In 1972 the U.S. signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. As soon as Bush got into office he kept repeating over and over that the treaty is worthless, and on October 3, 2002, he tore it up.

Accoarding to him, another treaty we do not need is the one that established the International Criminal Court. It was established in 1998 and Bill Clinton signed it. Bush renounced it. Perhaps he felt that people in other countries would not agree with Bush's interpretation of good and evil, and would try their form of justice on American criminals. A "sole superpower" cannot allow this.

Since we're the "sole superpower," why obtain "permission" from the UN to declare war? Why bother conferring with anyone? What is this nonsense called "multilaterism"? We think war is the right approach, so we do it.

To remain the "sole superpower" we need security. We need the anti-ballistic missile shield, otherwise known as "Star wars." Although many scientific, engineering and business experts have stated that the system will not work, Bush is going ahead with this greatest boondoggle in history: the total estimated cost is up to about $240 billion. But look at the money Republicans can get from the companies involved: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and TRW.

As if this is not enough, Bush is seeking nuclear "bunker busters," nuclear bombs that may reach deep into the earth to get at hidden military projects. In 1970, 190 parties, including the U.S., signed a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. So today, Bush criticizes other countries, such as Iran, for not living up to the treaty, while America indulges in proliferation by building nuclear bombs! I guess he feels the U.S. can do it because we are the "sole superpower."

PRESUMPTUOUS PREEMPTION

Bush made a pretty fast beeline from "sole superpower" to "preemption." If you are the "sole superpower" you do not need to follow anyone else's rules. You're in charge. To assure "security" don't wait to be attacked. Attack first - even if you only have vague premonitions.

The preemption idea started before Bush's election, when several neoconservatives established the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) in 1997. In 2000 they published a document - Paul Wolfowitz was one of the contributors - that urged a vast increase in all areas of defense, establishment of an ABM shield and preemption.

In October 2002 an official document, National Security Strategy for U.S., made many of the same points. Preemption was established as official policy. Also it was stated that America should have sufficient arms to make sure that no nation becomes even close to rivaling the military power of the U.S. "Sole superpower" forever!

The Iraq "liberation" exemplifies the policy of preemption. Long before the war began, it was obvious that Bush was on his way to war, and all the discussion was a big smokescreen. An official British document, called the Downing Street Memo, which arrived on 23 July of 2002, said:

"C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Notice that you can fix "intelligence and facts" to suit your policy of preemption.

HALLIBURTON HORRORS

You can see how the corruption ring works by looking at Dick Cheney and Halliburton. You know, Dick Cheney was the Secretary of Defense under Bush Senior. At that time Halliburton won a 5-year contract for logistics with the Army Corps of Engineers. In 1995 Cheney became CEO of Halliburton. After Bush Jr. was elected, Cheney returned to office as Vice President, and here is what happened to Halliburton:

  • Halliburton in 2003 jumped from number 37 on a list of defense companies to number 7
  • In March 2003 Halliburton received a $7 billion no-bid contract for fighting oil-well fires in Iraq
  • Halliburton cheated the government, indulged in bribery, wasted resources, did fraudulent accounting, performed inferior work
Regardless of all this, this past May, Halliburton received a $72 million military bonus!

ARMS AUTOMATION

Don Rumsfeld, who was Secretary of Defense before, returned as Secretary with Bush Junior's ascension to streamline the armed forces. Streamlining means more automation. Why? One of the reasons could be that automation means big contracts, something more troops do not provide much of.

Rumsfeld was so eager to consolidate forces that he did not send enough troops to Iraq. General John Riggs, who had spent 39 years in the Army and earned a Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery during the Vietnam War, told Rumsfeld that the Army was overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan and needed more troops. What was Rumsfeld response? He relieved Riggs of one of his two stars and kicked him out of the Army.

PERNICIOUS PRIVATIZATION

Automation is not half as bad as privatization. Defense has a policy of awarding contracts to private companies to do the same sort of thing done by troops. This may be OK for stationery or other common supplies. But private companies do killing, interrogating, logistics and many other tasks that are part of the work of troops.

Why? The more contractors you attract the more campaign contributions you may receive. Not a bad reason. There is another more corrupting reason: When private contractors do bad things - torture comes to mind - the government can say it was a rogue contractor and not the government that is at fault.

CONCLUSION

The military-industrial complex has always been with us. But the current administration has raised the corruption level an order of magnitude higher than ever before. Both defense companies and the administration benefit, at the expense of a civil, clean, honest society. To prevent further corrupting militarism, we should stop the "revolving door," turn aside preemption, halt nuclear bomb activity and legislate and enforce a strict campaign reform measure.

REFERENCES

For more information see
http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?list=type&type=9
http://www.worldpolicy.org/projects/arms/reports/tangled.htm
http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1884
http://www.publicintegrity.org/wow/report.aspx?aid=366
http://www.halliburtonwatch.org/news/whistleblower_hearings_denied.html
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1593607,00.html

Posted by Paul Siegel at June 4, 2005 6:01 PM