>Because There’s Always Money For War

>I love how everyone talks about cutting federal spending especially on things like healthcare and unemployment benefits, but there’s always money for war:

The House on Thursday voted to keep funding a second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, defying the White House and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Gates has repeatedly threatened that he would personally recommend that President Barack Obama veto any defense bill containing funding for an engine made by General Electric-Rolls Royce that the Pentagon does not want. The Office of Management and Budget on Thursday followed up with its own veto threat in a statement of administration policy. 


Both GE-Rolls Royce and primary engine maker Pratt & Whitney mounted vigorous lobbying campaigns in recent weeks aligning congressional supporters on each side. But when the House cast a vote on an amendment to strike funding for the second engine, the supporters of a second engine prevailed by a vote of 231-193.

The Pentagon doesn’t want this engine but Congress is going to make sure it gets built anyway. Of course they will. The Penatgon, as Rep. Jim Cooper pointed out a year or so ago, has become a de facto hometown jobs program. Didn’t Eisenhower warn us about this a generation ago?

Never mind. Congress will continue to mouth platitudes about cutting the deficit while refusing to touch the second largest item in the Federal budget:

At over $700 billion this year, total military spending rivals Social Security as the largest item in the federal budget. We are spending more than at any time since World War II, yet our principal enemy has no multi-million person army, no air force, no navy, no sophisticated anti-aircraft systems – in short, none of the kinds of weapons our arsenal is best designed to fight against. And of that $700 billion per year, the vast bulk – over $500 billion – goes towards the Pentagon’s base budget, not the wars in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. A forthcoming report from the Sustainable Defense Task Force  – a group of defense and budget experts convened with the encouragement of Rep. Barney Frank – presents a menu of options for making cuts in the Pentagon budget without undermining our basic security. Look for details within the next two weeks.

There are plenty of savings to be had from eliminating unneeded weapons systems and cutting waste, fraud and abuse, but it is important to note that any substantial reduction in Pentagon spending will have to involve reducing U.S. global commitments. We can’t and shouldn’t continue to structure our forces as if they should be able to go anywhere and do anything. This is directly relevant to the new National Security Strategy.

$700 billion year, much of it devoted to weapons for fighting the Cold War which, last I checked, St. Ronnie won for us over 20 years ago. This makes no sense.

Time to turn our swords into plowshares. Instead of spending $485 million to build an engine the Pentagon says it doesn’t want, why can’t these workers be retrained and factories retrofitted to build things this country does want: things that are even more important to our national security than weapons for a war no one is fighting anymore? Things like components for wind turbines and solar panels and parts for electric vehicles and the like?

Why do we keep making the same mistakes over and over again? It boggles the mind.

16 Comments

Filed under alternative energy, budget, Pentagon

16 responses to “>Because There’s Always Money For War

  1. >Well said. Thanks for posting this; I'll share.

  2. >I see no reason we can't trim down the defense budget. There's massive fraud & waste there, just like in other areas of the Federal government.

  3. >But as my post says, Mike, fraud & waste aren't even sufficient. We need to cut our commitments.

  4. Jim

    >SB – I agree. Close all of our foreign bases and bring all the troops home. Use our armed forces to secure our borders and protect our country here at home. We could easily protect America on half the current budget if not even less.

  5. >The Pentagon doesn’t want this engine but Congress is going to make sure it gets built anyway. Of course they will. No, Bob Gates doesn't want the second F-35 engine, not the whole Pentagon. His intransigence on this is idiotic, not to mention bizarre considering how he has coddled the F-35 program in other areas. Why have a second engine? Because with the F-35, we're putting all our eggs into one fighter basket; it is supposed to be everything for every US military service that has fighter planes (as well as the foreign countries participating in the program). So, what happens if there's an unforeseen problem with the engine that pops up, forcing us to ground the entire fleet of them? Without the replacement engine, we're Shit Out of Luck, particularly if it's a big problem that takes a long time to fix and/or ameliorate. It has happened before, too – the F-15s and F-16s had a number of fleet-wide groundings due to engine problems, but the F-16s had two types of engine available, so it wasn't so much of a problem. If Gates gets his way, we won't have that option – and since the F-35 engine incorporates a whole bunch of new engine technology, it is a hell of a risk to run.

  6. >To add-In case it wasn't obvious, having no replacement engine and a fleet almost wholly composed of F-35s (which is what Gates has been pushing for, considering his role in canceling the F-22) means that the US would be almost devoid of any fighter protection or use around the entire globe if we had a fleet-wide grounding.

  7. >The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Commies!! Ruskies! ChiComs! >NORTH KOREANS<. Haji!! Huns!! Limeys!! Wetbacks!! Nips!!! Pathans!! Crazed Canucks!! Duck!! Cover!! Hide!! How can one country be so scared of its own shadow 24/7? Is there anybody out there we haven't been frightened of? How about a third engine.. just in case that second engine's bearings seize up? In fact, lets just start building three of freakin' everything.. that way we really won't have to be afraid of (almost) anything. Morons. 37North.

  8. >How about a third engine.. just in case that second engine's bearings seize up? In fact, lets just start building three of freakin' everything.. that way we really won't have to be afraid of (almost) anything. Yeah, let's totally not prepare even the slightest for the very real possibility that the fighter that our entire air force and naval air force will depend might develop a fleet-grounding engine problem, even though such a problem has happened before with the last series of jets. Moron.

  9. >The F-35 is the most expensive defense program ever in U.S. history. The planes have been called "dogs," overweight and under-powered. They have yet to perform adequately and our international partners in this boondoggle are voicing frustration at the megabazillions they are wasting. Meanwhile our enemies take down our commercial airliners with box cutters.Brilliant.

  10. >Somewhere, sometime some military-preparedness addict will say the following…"We had to destroy the country in order to save it"And as for whether or not, true or not, that expensive military gizmos of the past have malfunctioned, broken down, or otherwise proven themselves to be defective… so what? That was then. This is now. And the country is being strangled to death trying to save itself from nonexistent enemies using nonexistent weaponry against us for nonexistent reasons. What is wrong with y'all that you can't see this happening *right in front of you*? Knucklehead. 37North

  11. >The F-35 is the most expensive defense program ever in U.S. history. The planes have been called "dogs," overweight and under-powered. They have yet to perform adequately and our international partners in this boondoggle are voicing frustration at the megabazillions they are wasting. It's expensive becauseA) They're trying to shove every new bit of technology on it, so they can get a repeat of what happened with the F-15s and F-16s: a fighter that they don't have to replace for the next 30 years. B) The plane has basically become an "all-in-one", because God Forbid the separate services have their own planes, even if it would be cheaper and easier to design.C) Our retarded procurement system. Instead of designing a plane, getting it out there, and then fixing the problems that arise as they come along (or replacing them with new planes if that's not possible), we instead do huge, immense, long projects so we can try and get the Perfect Fighter (with the result that the project gets dragged out for years). Look at the F-22 – its prototype was built in 1991, and the production model was first flown in 1997.And as for whether or not, true or not, that expensive military gizmos of the past have malfunctioned, broken down, or otherwise proven themselves to be defective… so what? That was then. This is now. Perhaps you'd like to point me towards your Secret Formula for Technological Infallibility in Design?Idiot.

  12. >You can call me idiot and moron all you want but you have yet to explain to me why we need these advanced weapon systems. What arms race are we fighting here?

  13. >You can call me idiot and moron all you want but you have yet to explain to me why we need these advanced weapon systems. What arms race are we fighting here?As long as the US has a whole host of security commitments (including many by ratified treaty) world-wide, it's in our interests to have the best military hardware to do the objectives we've set out to work towards.* That includes having up-to-date equipment that won't just turn into flying/floating/rolling coffins for our troops if and/or when they get sent into battle. As it is, our current stuff (and particularly the F-16s and F-15s) are 30-years-old, already getting matched up by foreign equipment (particularly that in the hands of China), and the generation of fighters that both the Chinese and the Russians are working on (which they can sell to others, I might add) will eat them alive. Besides, having the best equipment can save a lot of lives. Look at the First Gulf War – if the US hadn't had a well-trained, well-equipped army with top-notch equipment (ranging from cruise missiles and laser-guided bombs to M-1 Abrams tanks), the war would have been much longer and more brutal. Finally, one other thing you have to keep in mind is that we can't just spam out a bunch of equipment like we used to be able to do in, say, World War 2. The current stuff takes years just to get the production and supply component lines set up, meaning that if you end up in some type of war (and we will), you're Shit Out of Luck if you don't have a stockpile of this stuff already in existence. *Yes, I know that the current set-up of National Security objectives is neither the only one, or even the best of all possible arrangements. Realistically, though, that's not going to change anytime soon; the Interventionist crowd (humanitarian and otherwise) is King in Washington D.C..

  14. >We had the same engine problems with the first of the Abrams tanks – bad engines. There was a policy at the time to have second sources for everything, but not the engine. Seems the military-industrial-POLITICAL (yes, they should be part of the complex) got involved and the engines were single-sourced. Only the failure and the publicity opened the problem to the public and the army got other sources. Still, our commitments are too vast, out of date, and unnecessary. Worse, they are a cause for Blowback and a failure in diplomacy. If the brass bitch, look them in the eye and tell them, "What part of WE'RE BROKE do you not understand, General?"

  15. >We had the same engine problems with the first of the Abrams tanks – bad engines. There was a policy at the time to have second sources for everything, but not the engine. Seems the military-industrial-POLITICAL (yes, they should be part of the complex) got involved and the engines were single-sourced. Only the failure and the publicity opened the problem to the public and the army got other sources. There's my point. Back-ups are a good thing, particularly when you are heavily relying on one piece of equipment. Still, our commitments are too vast, out of date, and unnecessary. Worse, they are a cause for Blowback and a failure in diplomacy.It depends on the arena. There's no reason, for example, that we need to be providing the backbone of European national security anymore. Several of the European countries (particularly France and the UK) have effective militaries as well as nuclear deterrents of their own, and the primary reason for NATO – to prevent the Soviets from heading west – is gone. You could also make an argument that we don't need to be providing the backbone of security for our clients in the Middle East, or at least providing a more indirect form (like the sale of arms instead of the stationing of troops). Of course, if you weaken your support for your clients in the region, why should they listen to you on diplomacy?East Asia is really where this argument is at its weakest. As China has grown stronger, we've seen a number of the regional powers (like South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and even India) start moving closer to the US as a form of balancing. That gives us plenty of leverage due to our ability to provide security.If the brass bitch, look them in the eye and tell them, "What part of WE'RE BROKE do you not understand, General?"Until Petraeus came along, the brass weren't the ones pushing for all manner of wars and interventions in the 1990s and 2000s – it was the civilian defense leadership from both sides of the political aisle. Remember the Powell Doctrine?

  16. >You can call me idiot and moron all you want but you have yet to explain to me why we need these advanced weapon systems. What arms race are we fighting here?I understand that you're probably incapable of looking at this from a macro level, but really, is this a serious question?