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A blog dedicated to debate and commentary on national security, foreign affairs, veterans' issues, and a whole host of other topics. If you are not familiar with who Sam Damon is, click here. Feel free to post comments or contact Onager via e-mail at whereissamdamon@gmail.com.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Welcome to the Candy Shop

This is a good article on the military industrial complex and Congress. However, I disagree with the statement that "battling politicians’ parochial interests may be relatively easy compared to the far more formidable challenge of changing the memes that have ruled the Pentagon for decades." In my mind, Congress is the root of the problem and is the reason there is a military industrial complex.

The vast majority of representatives in Congress have never served a day in the military, which is a change from the pre-Cold War era. They are impressed with titles such as colonel, commander, general, and admiral. They are impressed with fast jets and lasers that work 60 percent of the time. They are impressed when defense companies, through a retired general or admiral who is pitching a certain system to them, say that a government contract with them will protect citizens and bring jobs to their district. In sum, given that there are no negative effects felt by congressmen and only some positives (e.g. jobs, seeming like they are strong on defense), they are like kids in a candy store spending the taxpayers money on "defense," not war of course - there is no longer a more accurately titled "War Department."
Over time, the candy stores Congress frequented prospered and expanded. These candy stores then developed their own culture of selling junk at a high price to the government through contracts.

"You want almonds with that candy bar, congressman?" asks retired Army Brigadier General F. Clarence Numbnuts III, an officer who never served in combat and shuffled papers as an adjutant general officer his whole career which spanned from 1971 to 2001. "Well then, we will first have to research what type of almonds work best with that chocolate and it will cost you another $50 million dollars each year. I can explain it in more detail... Would you like to come to my house in McLean for a drink? Perhaps a round of gold at the Army-Navy Club or Ft. Myer?"

More military officers retired and invited their officer friends to join one of the prospering candy companies at $100K per year; pretty good considering most are also receiving their retired O-5 and O-6 pay. The companies began to develop in a military fashion using many of operating procedures the new employees used in the military. Retired military officers no longer brought military experience, leadership, and innovation to American universities, Ford, GM, or Wall Street, like they did after World War II. Instead they worked for defense contractors thereby excerbating the divide between the American public and the military. The companies then began to hire retired flag officers to be the CEOs; afterall, congressmen are impressed with titles. The result is President Eisenhower's worst nightmare come true.

Congress is the root of the problem. Congress doesn't even vote to declare war anymore - they just authorize the use of force so they are never blamed for any of the blood and carnage that occurs from the use of the toys they bought with taxpayer money... they are like a toddler who's mouth is covered in candy and doesn't take the blame for not cleaning his playpen.

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