Defense Minister MacKay blunders on and on


Defense Minister Peter MacKay Blunders on and on…

So, where’s the outrage as NATO flushes another trillion or so down the sewer?

It would seem Peter MacKay as Minister of Defense does not know when to bailout from a burning inferno of cost overruns, procurement mismanagement, technical deficiencies, inappropriate choices and out of control militarism. MacKay is determined to back a loser to the bitter end and the loser is the F-35 Lightning JSF. 

 As of March 22nd 2012 AD in the London Free Press, Mackay assures us, “We’re still very sure that the F-35 is the right aircraft.”  Why MacKay has such confidence in this ill-fated program (the most expensive military acquisition ever undertaken) remains a mystery.  He is obviously not doing his homework, as the pathetic saga of the F-35 Lightning is well documented for all to read.

MacKay is the same guy who took free helicopter rides at taxpayer expense and when cornered by the truth denied everything. The truth about Mackay and his blind commitment to the F-35 is that he has too much political capital invested in it and is once again incapable of admitting his flagrantly bad judgment. Once again he is cornered by the truth and goes into denial.

 While his NATO  colleagues have responded with more candor and shown at least nominal respect for the public purse they have all contributed to this fiasco by their lack of due diligence. They contributed to the development of the F-35, but did nothing to monitor their investment and are now shocked that they are on the hook for billions of dollars if they want to own any of these over-priced lemons.  What was supposed to be a versatile, modestly priced aircraft has turned out to be a sinkhole for tens of billions- at a time when no Western country can afford them.  

 After ten years of development it will still not be available for at least another six. A third of a trillion has already been spent and we can be assured the ultimate cost will be well over a trillion dollars. The US, by far the major purchaser, expects that over the life of the aircraft it will be spending a trillion dollars on maintenance alone.  While there has been savage criticism of the program from within and outside government in the US our minister of defense indulges his blissful apathy. 

This aircraft was supposed to assure air supremacy for NATO for the next generation but it has already been reported the Chinese have stolen f35 plans. So what sort of price tag do we put on stolen plans and lost supremacy?

The F-35 fiasco also points to the dysfunctional relationship NATO countries have with their “lead dog” the US.  NATO countries too often show a kowtowing blind obedience to the US. What was once a defense alliance has really become an instrument of US imperialism. Without any over sight they leave the US to charge ahead and develop an aircraft, inappropriate to the times, and at a cost none of them can afford.

The F-35 fiasco serves to cast a harsh light on global military spending. In the year 2010 global military spending amounted to 1.63 trillion dollars. Unless this money-guzzling-program is killed this unconscionable statistic is going to go much higher. Well over a trillion dollars of this amount was spent by the US, its immediate allies and fellow NATO members. The US alone spent six times more than China and twelve times more than Russia.  The US spends 43% of the global total and its “defense” budget has increased 81 per cent since 2001(statistics from SIPIRI ).

We are told these vast unprecedented expenditures are necessary to fight a virtually extinct Al Qaeda and the over blown war on terrorism. We are armed with billion dollar stealth fighters and they are armed with vintage Kalashnikovs. Even so we don’t quite win these wars. The estimated cost of the 2003 invasion of Iraq was 50 billion dollars. By last count the cost is more like a trillion dollars. Similarly, after ten years in Afghanistan and another trillion or so dollars, NATO is beating an ignominious retreat from that country having suffered the same fate as the Russians. Iraq and Afghanistan, like Viet Nam before them suffered the overwhelming blunt force of Western military power but out-lasted the invaders.

What is conspicuously obvious is that the blunt instrument of Western military power-as embodied in NATO- with all its overpriced technowartoys is ill-suited to the irregular serial warfare of the 21st century. While military pundits are in universal agreement the wars of the foreseeable future are going to be irregular wars of counterinsurgency, military strategists are fighting with overpriced and oversold technowartoys suited to the long gone Cold War.

 The unconscionable number of civilian casualties in recent wars is powerful testimony to this inappropriate choice of archaic strategies and ill-chosen weaponry. Wars are supposed to be between warriors but now civilian populations are in the front lines as victims. How many times in the last decade have we heard apologies for civilian deaths due to inaccurate “intelligence.”

Every country must maintain its national security with military spending; but NATO countries-especially so the USA-are afflicted with a cancerous militarism where military spending is out of all proportion to real needs and where national economies are enslaved.   

 Taxpayers are being swindled by a cartel of profiteering arms dealers and irresponsible political elites.  We cannot afford to sit back and see the public purse pillaged by corrupted and inappropriate military spending, especially so, when duplicitous and incompetent governments are preaching economic restraint.

So, where’s the outrage as NATO flushes another trillion or so down the sewer?


Robert Billyard, British Columbia Canada



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