Saturday, July 14, 2012

Deception of our elected officials

Having pondered this subject for some time now, I decided to attempt to put thoughts to paper about how the military/ industrial alliance has called the shots for over 65 years. I contend it started during the Korean War after the Chinese attacked us during the coldest part of the winter. Truman, out of concern for Russia, refused to allow General McArthur to attack the enemy North of the Yalu River. We had overwhelming superiority in air power but it was useless to him as he could not bomb the air bases or supply routes. Russia had attained nuclear status by then but was far behind our inventory. I believe Truman’s fear was not justified. What bothered me the most was that he allowed the fighting and dying to continue without using our airpower effectively? We voted overwhelmingly for Eisenhower believing that he would finish the fight with victory. That did not happen as he did not consider it a priority. During his eight years as President he kept the alliance under control. His warning to us as he was leaving office was to be aware of the alliance. His warning fell on deaf ears. During the campaign Kennedy kept referring to a “missile gap” inferring that Eisenhower had let Russia pull ahead. This was proven later to be false but I am sure had some effect on the election. To his credit Kennedy was successful in holding back the Joint Chiefs of Staff until his assassination. They had insisted on bombing Cuba back to the Stone Age and pushed for fighting troops in Vietnam. With his death there was no holding back. Lyndon Johnson, on a false premise that we had been attacked, turned loose the dogs of war. Vietnam never should have been fought. Millions killed and our country was thrown into deficit financing as Johnson insisted on fully funding the war together with his great society program. The protests started resulting in Johnson refusing to run for re-election. After him came Nixon. He pretended to be reducing our troop levels but in fact for nearly every plane returning soldiers from Vietnam they had arrived with new soldiers. It was a farce. Americans finally had all they could take and took to the streets to protest in earnest which forced the government to stop. The arms race went into high gear during the “Cold” war. Russia and the U.S. spent billions on delivery systems for nuclear weapons; bombers, missile sites and subs. Eventually Russia went broke and the Soviet Union broke apart. Our expenditures wreaked havoc on our economy as well but not to that extent. During these years under Reagan he broke the arms treaty that had prohibited missile defense systems. These programs were and still are extremely expensive. President George H.W. Bush decided to go to war with Iraq after they had conquered Kuwait. Bush felt that Iraq might also decide to conquer Saudi Arabia, a country labeled as an ally. For the life of me I don’t understand. They were the leader after all in 1973 when OPEC was formed and the price of oil was increased 10 fold overnight putting severe strain on the western countries. President Clinton put Iraq in a tight position with sanctions and no-fly zones for the eight years of his presidency. He also used our Air Force in Bosnia and Kosovo when Europe was deemed unable to do the job. Then of course after 9/11/2001 the new President George Bush convinced Americans that we had to retaliate first against Afghanistan and then Iraq. Here we are 12 years later still fighting and dying in that part of the world having suffered many thousands of casualties and trillions of dollars spent. Obama has just approved four billion per year in aid for another ten years after we leave supposedly in 2014.We are similarly supporting Iraq. There is no end in sight. The point I am trying to make is that as hard as we try to put a President or member of Congress in office to change course for the most part we have failed. At the U of A book festival this Spring I purchased a great book entitled “Addicted to War” by Joel Andreas. It is done in cartoon style. Regardless, he makes the point very well that we are indeed addicted. One very good reason is jobs. The Defense Industry is protected from foreign competition and therefore the employees enjoy high earnings and benefits. The industry has very cleverly spread bits and pieces in nearly every state in the union which means at election time these people vote their paycheck. Politicians cannot safely speak about cutting back or they would not stand a chance of being elected. In this book he states there are over 100,000 companies providing the Pentagon with products and services. A few of the largest are; United Technologies, Textron, Northrup Grumman, Boeing, Raytheon, G.E., General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Halliburton. Further he states that our annual budget is larger than the next 36 countries combined, a full 36% of total global military spending. Nearing completion is a humongous carrier named after President Reagan at a cost of $1 trillion. It will have a crew of 5,000. Can you imagine the daily cost of a ship this large? For what it’s worth in my opinion the day of the carrier is long gone. There are increasingly sophisticated missile systems coming on line that could destroy a carrier. Sure hope I am wrong on this. I attended a very well done documentary last night entitled “Heist” “Who stole the American Dream”. It all started with a document called the Powell Memorandum which was written in 1971. In it Mr. Powell strongly exhorted the Chamber and in particular big business to become active in the political process including lobbying. Powell became a Supreme Court Justice in 1969 being appointed by President Nixon. In 1978 there was a case called Boston vs. Bellotti. Powell was instrumental in overturning a Massachusetts’s law restricting corporate contributions. Some claim this was the forerunner of the latest victory for business when the Court stated corporations were people which opened the flood gates of money during the current election process. In the 70’s there was a lot of anti-business actions taken by the Congress particularly under Carter. Agency after agency was created to put control over industry in particular. Regulations added greatly to the cost of doing business and severely hampered our competitiveness with products flooding in from overseas. I was fighting the good fight during those years and did lobbying myself, so I find I agree with the essence of the memorandum. What I disagree with totally is that the contributions have grown so excessive that the whole political system is out of control. It is common knowledge how much time elected officials spend raising funds for re-election. It cannot be denied that favors are granted in return. This is true of both parties. Full time lobbyists number over 30,000 in Washington alone. I doubt if I will be able to make the point how different it is today compared to my era. As a Plant Manager my responsibility wasn’t only to make a quality product at the lowest cost possible but to be a good citizen of the community and support it as best we could. The communities were better places because we were there. Fast forward to today, there is no consideration for communities, employees or anything else, only profit. To that end the companies have razed our cities by sending jobs overseas at an ever expanding rate. There is no consideration for the devastation left after they leave. What government can do is assure fair trade and take whatever steps are necessary to create good paying jobs for Americans. Should they try, the Chamber will oppose them but for the sake of working Americans, the effort must be made. My title for this article was deception of our elected officials. We hear wonderful words but when push comes to shove they bail out and leave us floundering. They just don’t care except for themselves. Jack B. Walters July 13, 2012

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