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Weapons ‘R’ Us: Making Warbirds Instead of Thunderbirds

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Posted on Jan 26, 2012
titanium22 (CC-BY)

By William Astore, TomDispatch

(Page 3)

Because of sheer cost, it’s likely we’ll buy fewer F-35s than our military wants but many more than we actually need.  We’ll do so because Weapons ‘R’ Us.  Because building ultra-expensive combat jets is one of the few high-tech industries we haven’t exported (due to national security and secrecy concerns), and thus one of the few industries in the U.S. that still supports high-paying manufacturing jobs with decent employee benefits.  And who can argue with that?

The Ultimate Cost of Our Merchandise of Death

Clearly, the U.S. has grabbed the brass ring of the global arms trade.  When it comes to investing in militaries and weaponry, no country can match us.  We are supreme.  And despite talk of modest cuts to the Pentagon budget over the next decade, it will, according to President Obama, continue to grow, which means that in weapons terms the future remains bright.  After all, Pentagon spending on research and development stands at $81.4 billion, accounting for an astonishing 55% of all federal spending on R&D and leaving plenty of opportunity to develop our next generation of wonder weapons.

But at what cost to ourselves and the rest of the world?  We’ve become the suppliers of weaponry to the planet’s hotspots.  And those weapons deliveries (and the training and support missions that go with them) tend to make those spots hotter still—as in hot lead.

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As a country, we seem to have a teenager’s fascination with military hardware, an addiction that’s driving us to bust our own national budgetary allowance.  At the same time, we sell weapons the way teenage punks sell fireworks to younger kids: for profit and with little regard for how they might be used.

Sixty years ago, it was said that what’s good for General Motors is good for America.  In 1955, as Bob Seger sang, we were young and strong and makin’ Thunderbirds.  But today we’re playing a new tune with new lyrics: what’s good for Lockheed Martin or Boeing or [insert major-defense-contractor-of-your-choice here] is good for America.

How far we’ve come since the 1950s!

William J. Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF), is a TomDispatch regular. To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Astore discusses the thrill of weaponry in pop culture and how it faded for him, click here, or download it to your iPod here.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch and join us on Facebook.


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LocalHero's avatar

By LocalHero, January 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm Link to this comment

Unfortunately, even Astore never gets around to what really needs to be said.

The fact is, we don’t need ANY of this horrendous, death-dealing junk. We’ll never grow up as a species until the very idea of being a “soldier” is the equivalent of aspiring to be a pedophile. In my view, they are morally equivalent. Well, ok, soldier is worse.

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drbhelthi's avatar

By drbhelthi, January 28, 2012 at 4:33 am Link to this comment

@gerard
“The very image of decay and death-by-fire.”

How very accurate.
Also, looks like the Obamagon and the Zionists are planning a repeat of the USS
Liberty, this time in the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.  Sending the USS Enterprise
into the area, just prior to retirement, suggests that it and its several thousand, American
crew will be presently expended.  Having Israeli jets, this time with Iranian or Syrian
markings sink the Enterprise, as they tried with the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967,  in
international waters 15 miles off the Sinai Peninsula, would be misused as grounds to
attack Iran.  Also, sinking the humongous Enterprise, with its five nuclear reactors,
would pollute the area, and restrict usage considerably, a long-term punitive action
against Arabs.  Actions typical of Hitler-types. 

With a few more trumped up fairy tales about Iranian and Moslem terrorists in the US
invented by the FBI, the Obama entourage might even declare martial law in the US. 
Of course, in order to “protect” Americans.  After which, patriotic Americans would
begin to be hauled off as were the innocent Jewish folk by the Hitler NAZI
administration in Germany, 1930s-1940s..  All of which would pre-empt the need for a
2012 US presidential election.

If you think these ideas are simply dreaming, you have not read “Extreme Prejudice” by
the CIA Whistle-Blower, Ms. Susan Lindauer.  She reveals the plans of the George H. W.
Bush Sr. entourage from prior to the CIA destruction of the Pan American Boeing 747
over Lockerbie, Scotland, 21 December 1988, through the planned destruction of Libya
and Muammar Al Gadhaffi, which occurred Oct, 2011.  The book is available at your
local bookstore at a reasonable price.

Insiders and associates sometimes wonder whatever happened to the patriotism of the
American soldier who was “ colonel for one day”  ???

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By gerard, January 26, 2012 at 12:20 pm Link to this comment

Quote-unquote: “By recent estimates the F-35 will now cost U.S. taxpayers (you and me, that is) at least $382 billion for its development and production run.  Such a sum for a single weapons system is vast enough to be hard to fathom.  It would, for instance, easily fund all federal government spending on education for the next five years.”

The very image of decay and death-by-fire. And Obama tries to tell us that “those who say that America is in decline, don’t know what they are talking about!” (or words to that effect in the recent SOU speech.)

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