Monday, April 6, 2009

The Permanent War Economy

[UPDATE]: Via ACK, my Congress Critter Jim Cooper's statement on the Pentagon budget:
“Congress will surely debate these recommendations, but let us debate them on their merits. America is fighting two wars and a recession; we no longer have the luxury of running the Defense Department as a hometown jobs program. That’s why, in the words of Secretary Gates, we must rise above parochial interests and do what’s in the best interest of the nation as a whole. I hope my colleagues will join me in accepting his challenge.”

Wow, it's nice to see someone in Congress admit that we've been operating the Pentagon this way. The "permanent war economy" has not been a tinfoil hat conspiracy theory of the progressive left after all. This is certainly encouraging.

Maintaining the F-22 purely as an economic stimulus exercise is immoral, and it doesn't make fiscal sense, either. At some point we will see the folly of waging war to create jobs. Could that time be now?


File this one under it’s about damn time:

In a blow to Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon has decided to end funding of the F-22 fighter jet. 

The decision by Defense Secretary Robert Gates will rouse widespread opposition in Congress and is likely to bog down the 2010 budget approval process, with F-22 supporters maneuvering to secure more money.

The Pentagon will fund four of the radar-evading stealth fighters in the upcoming 2009 emergency war-spending request, but those additional aircraft will do little to keep the production line in Marietta, Ga., open beyond 2011. Each F-22 costs about $140 million.

Gates announced the decision at a press conference on the Defense budget on Monday afternoon. He said the recommendations were his own and that he received no guidance from outside the Pentagon. But he did confer with military and civilian leaders at the Defense Department, he said.

Gates said he consulted closely with the president, but that he "received no direction or guidance from outside this department on individual program decisions."
The planes are outmoded; designed to fight Soviet jets, they’ve been useless in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

But Lockheed Martin argues that production of the F-22 employs 25,000 people (here they claim it’s 95,000, which may include Lockheed Martin’s suppliers). If the economic argument is the only one they’ve got, then by all rights they should lose this one hands down. For years we progressives have bemoaned the permanent war economy, which conservatives have pooh-poohed as a lefty tin-foil hat theory. But if you’re going to argue for keeping an outdated military fighter jet in production simply because it employs a bunch of people, what the hell do YOU call that, if not a war economy?

The Christian Science Monitor summed it up well back in March:
As a Democrat more interested in spending money on butter than guns, Mr. Obama does not see guns as butter. His priorities are healthcare, energy, and education. Some Democrats even want a 25 percent cut in defense spending.

But Obama may not win the coming political dogfight with Congress over reducing production of the F-22, which the Air Force sees as its crown jewel in commanding the skies in a conflict. The plane is manufactured by some 1,000 companies in 44 states. That's created a powerful lobby.

One thing to watch for in the coming weeks are some of these retired military "analysts" in the media. These are the folks who it was later discovered worked for lobbyists and military contractors. If retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales hits Fox News to warn about the surrender monkeys and liberal defeatocrats in Congress, I want to know about it.

If we do lose this battle and the military continues to manufacture the outdated F-22 purely to keep people employed, I will know that any hope we had of transitioning away from a war economy would be lost. And that would make me very sad, indeed.

And to the folks in Marietta who are worried about losing their jobs, you have my condolences. It would be nice if your Republican governor would not talk about turning down federal stimulus funds with a major employer losing a big government contract. Maybe you folks could follow Tennessee's lead and make, I dunno, solar panels or something.

Swords into plowshares, people.