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Where Has All the Money Gone?

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Posted on May 15, 2013
The U.S. Army (CC BY 2.0)

By David Vine, TomDispatch

(Page 5)

Most of these have gone to members of the armed services and appropriations committees in the Senate and House of Representatives. These, of course, have primary authority over awarding military dollars. For the 2012 elections, for example, DynCorp International’s political action committee donated $10,000 to both the chair and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, and made additional donations to 33 other members of the House and Senate armed services committees and 16 members of the two appropriations committees.

Most contractors also pay lobbyists hundreds of thousands of dollars to sway military budgeteers and policymakers their way. KBR and Halliburton spent nearly $5.5 million on lobbying between 2002 and 2012, including $420,000 in 2008 when KBR won the latest LOGCAP contract and $620,000 the following year when it protested being barred from bidding on contracts in Kuwait. Supreme spent $660,000 on lobbying in 2012 alone. Agility spent $200,000 in 2011, after its second indictment on fraud charges, and Fluor racked up nearly $9.5 million in lobbying fees from 2002 to 2012.

Shrinking the Baseworld

Today, there are some signs of baseworld shrinkage. The hundreds of bases built in Iraq are long gone, and many of the hundreds built in Afghanistan are now being shut down as U.S. combat troops prepare to withdraw. The military is downsizing an old base in the Portuguese Azores and studying further base and troop reductions in Europe. While many in Congress are resisting an Obama administration request to reduce “excess capacity” among thousands of domestic bases through two new rounds of the Base Realignment and Closure process, at least some current and former members of Congress are calling for a parallel effort to close bases abroad.

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At the same time, however, the military is building (or exploring the possibility of building) new bases from Asia and Africa to the Persian Gulf and Latin America.  Small drone bases are on the rise from Niger to Saudi Arabia.  Even in Europe, the Pentagon is still building bases while closing others.

Much work remains to be done to figure out who’s been benefiting from the Pentagon’s baseworld. The billions in contracts that sustain our bases, however, are a good reminder that there are immediate savings available by reducing troop deployments and Cold War bases abroad. They are also a reminder of where we should look when we’re told there isn’t enough money for Head Start or hospitals or housing.

For decades, tens of billions of dollars in overseas spending have ended up in the coffers of a select few, with many billions leaking out of the U.S. economy entirely. Stemming those leaks by cutting overseas spending and redirecting precious resources toward long-neglected non-military needs is an important way to help revive an economy that has long benefited the few rather than the many.

Top 25 Recipients of Pentagon Contracts Abroad

 

CONTRACT AWARDEE

TOTAL IN BILLIONS

1. 

Miscellaneous Foreign Contractors

        $47.1

2. 

KBR, Inc.

          44.4

3. 

Supreme Group

            9.3

4. 

Agility Logistics (PWC)

            9.0

5. 

DynCorp International

            8.6

6. 

Fluor Intercontinental

            8.6

7. 

ITT/Exelis, Inc.

            7.4

8. 

BP, P.L.C.

            5.6

9. 

Bahrain Petroleum Company

            5.1

10. 

Abu Dhabi Petroleum Company

            4.5

11. 

SK Corporation

            3.8

12. 

Red Star Enterprises (Mina Corporation)

            3.8

13. 

World Fuel Services Corporation

            3.8

14. 

Motor Oil (Hellas), Corinth Refineries   S.A.

            3.7

15. 

Combat Support Associates Ltd.

            3.8

16. 

Refinery Associates Texas, Inc.

            3.3

17. 

Lockheed Martin Corporation

            3.2

18. 

Raytheon Company

            3.1

19. 

S-Oil Corporation (Ssangyong)

            3.0

20. 

International Oil Trading Co./Trigeant   Ltd.

            2.7

21. 

FedEx Corporation

            2.2

22. 

Contrack International, Inc.

            2.0

23. 

GS/LG-Caltex (Chevron Corporation)

            1.9

24. 

Washington Group/URS Corporation

            1.6

25. 

Tutor Perini Corporation (Perini)

            1.5

 

SUBTOTAL

     $201.8  


 All Other Contractors:

TOTAL

     $183.4

     $385.2

David Vine, a Tom Dispatch regular, is assistant professor of anthropology at American University, in Washington, DC. He is the author of Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia. He has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, and Mother Jones, among other places. He is currently completing a book about the effects of U.S. military bases located outside the United States. For more of his writing, visit www.davidvine.net.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook or Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch book, Nick Turse’s The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare.

Copyright 2013 David Vine


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