It’s been my experience that a lot of people have trouble dealing with the idea that those most anxious to wage war are usually tied directly to the weapons manufacturers. Maybe it’s because it just seems just too venal to contemplate. Then, there is the tendency of the major media to keep its head in the sand about the matter — which may or may not be tied to the ample advertising revenue the aerospace and munitions makers throw around. Still, there is a direct, easily documented link between the ‘neoconservatives’ who have pushed our country into quagmires in Afghanistan and Iraq and the armaments industry.
Today the ‘military-industrial complex,’ about which departing President Dwight Eisenhower warned, has a bigger hand in shaping and directing U.S. foreign policy than at any time in history. The operatives who have taken charge at the Pentagon, usurping the role once played by the State Department, and the think tanks and institutes to which they are linked are generously supported by the gun, missile and bomb makers.
Take Richard Perle. There had been some speculation that ‘The Prince of Darkness’ was laying low. That was after he was charged with double-dipping by serving on a government body that deals with military procurement while on the payroll of defense contractors and openly advising businesses on how to profit from the war in Iraq. In June Newsweek said he and some other key neoconservatives had “withdrawn from public view.”
No such luck. “Gas Stations in the Sky” was the headline for a Wall Street Journal opinion piece he co- authored with arms industry executive Thomas Donnelly. It argued forcefully for the Air Force proposal to lease 100 Boeing 767 tanker aircraft to refuel war planes in flight and for building more long range bombers.
Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), chair of the Senate Commerce and Transportation Committee, has accused Boeing of refusing to reveal its pricing policy or to disclose its communications with the Defense Department. He calls the lease arrangement a waste of money, a sweetheart deal for Boeing and “one of the most unsavory, inside, military-industrial complex deals.”
The Congressional Budget Office says the price of leasing the planes is $5.7 billion over what it would cost of buy them outright.
Despite McCain”s opposition, the leasing deal appears headed toward Congressional approval. Incidentally, Linda Daschle, the wife of Senate Minority leader Tom Daschle is a paid lobbyist for Boeing and another aircraft manufacturer, Lockheed Martin Corporation.
The Journal editors chose to identify Perle and Donnelly only as resident fellows at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Actually, Perle is one of the chief architects of the Bush Administration”s foreign policy, a close associate of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his assistant Paul Wolfowitz. Donnelly was deputy executive director at the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) from 1999 until 2002 when he moved on to become director of strategic communications and initiatives at Lockheed Martin.
PNAC was born in 1997. It soon attracted as sponsors such conservative luminaries as Rumsfeld; soon-to-be Vice President Dick Cheney; former Vice-President Dan Quayle; now Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz; Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Peter W. Rodman; Elliott Abrams, the Near East and North African affairs director at the National Security Council; Zalmay Khalilzad, the current White House liaison to the Iraqi opposition; I. Lewis Libby, now Cheney’s chief of staff; and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the president’s brother.
“American foreign and defense policy is adrift,” a PNAC statement read. “We aim to change this. We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership.”
In September 2000, PNAC issued a strategic blueprint for the U.S. The plan called for building the ‘Star Wars’ missile defense system which, among other things, would “provide a secure basis for U.S. power projection around the world.” It proposed increasing military spending by $15 billion to $20 billion, building a new generation of nuclear weapons, permanent stationing of troops abroad for “multiple constabulary missions ” — all aimed at ensuring a “unipolar 21st century.”
One would think that Perle, having already caused considerable embarrassment for the Administration with his antics at the Defense Policy Board would steer clear of coming on like a flack for the armaments industry. However, caution and tact are not his strong suits. In April, he proclaimed for the readers of The Guardian (UK), “Thank God for the death of the UN.” Before the war, he publicly assured the White House and the nation that “The Iraqis will welcome the liberators with open arms.” Donnelly is also out front. “The real question now is how the United States can leverage its victory in Iraq to uphold, expand, and institutionalize the Pax Americana,” he wrote in a recent issue of the AEI”s journal National Security Outlook.
As it has for decades, the armaments industry is today playing a heavy hand in the run-up to the 2004 Presidential Election.
The Military Industrial Complex is not the Republican Party. In fact, it has a strong base of support inside the Democratic Party, expressed through its neocons. These neoconservatives, only some of whom are operating out of the Bush Administration, are now much older than they were in the 1960s when many of them emerged within the ‘Scoop Jackson’ wing of the party. That hawkish faction was named for late Washington Senator Henry Jackson known as “the senator from Boeing.”
On September 3, the Financial Times reported that one of the documents released the previous day revealed that “a letter from Norman Dicks, a Democratic congressmen from Washington – the state where Boeing will build the aircraft – to President George W. Bush urged the White House to back the deal in order to increase Boeing’s business in the wake of the September 11 2001 attacks.”
The neocon linage can be traced over the years through the rosters of bipartisan groups like the Committee on the Present Danger, which sought to spur a military buildup during the Cold War, to the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which laid the groundwork for the present disastrous foreign policy course. The membership of this latter group includes former secretary of State George Schultz and Sen. Joseph Lieberman. Along the way came the founding of the Vulcans, an eight-member group that includes Perle and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. One of Rice”s deputies is Stephen Hadley who comes from a law firm that represented Lockheed Martin and is a big fan of deploying new, smaller nuclear weapons in conventional warfare.
The neoconservatives among the Democrats, which includes the party chair, Donna Brazille, also draw support from supporters of the expansionist Israeli right wing and groups like the ‘centrist’ Democratic Leadership Council. The think tanks and institutes on the Democratic neoconservative wing also benefit mightily from the largess of the armaments industry.
It”s not just foreign policy that has produced the neoconservative phenomenon. Where the neocoms have figured heavily in the Democratic Party, they have opposed affirmative action, supported so-called welfare reform and promoted ‘free trade’ policies. This also explains their opposition to the more liberal wing of the party and their intent to undermine anyone who would question things like the North Atlantic Free Trade Area or the transference of U.S. manufacturing to low wage area abroad. Rev. Jesse Jackson rightly called them: “Democrats for the Leisure Class.”
The first DLC president was Bill Clinton and his recent outrageous advice that the war in Iraq be avoided as a topic in the presidential election campaign was quite in line with the current ‘centrist’ line. It coincided with the DLC”s startling —but completely true-to- form—roundhouse attack on Democratic front runner Howard Dean and labor union-backed Richard Gebhardt.
Bush Administration policies are encountering increasing skepticism from traditional conservative Republicans, and back-room-dealing Vice President Dick Chaney and Perle, Wolfowitz and Co. are beginning to look more and more like political liabilities. The Establishment base of the Bush Administration was never very broad and increasingly narrowing down to the arms industry, portions of the energy industry and the diehard religious right.
At the same time, it is clear that any Democrat supporting the military adventures the neocoms have initiated under the Republicans is unlikely to receive the Party”s nomination. However, the last thing the warmakers want to see it a full fledged debate and popular referendum on those policies. Thus, the attacks on the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination and the charge that the “activist” wing of the Democratic Party is out of touch with the country.
It’s not just the neoconservatives who are becoming unnerved at the way things are going; the military industrial complex is also nervous. There’s a direct link between the two and the last thing they want is for the public to start connecting the dots.