Pork the Navy Doesn’t Want

The $230 billion for operations and maintenance is $2.43 billion above the Pentagon request. The summary boasts of adding $550 million specifically for the services to “improve military readiness, including increased training, depot maintenance, and base operations support.” Whereas Congress added $12.9 billion above the figure requested by the Pentagon to purchase ships and aircraft. That is a 19 percent increase the Pentagon didn’t ask for to buy new equipment, compared to a mere 1 percent increase to solve the supposed “readiness crisis.”

Source: Military Readiness Sidelined For Ships the Navy Doesn’t Want | The American Conservative by Dan Grazier

I give the Pentagon a hard time for its role in procuring gold-plated weapons systems that don’t work and deliver low returns on our investment in national defense. (Cough F-35 cough LCS cough Humvee.) They deserve it: too many careers are built on weapons systems that wind up costing us dearly in American blood and treasure, and in the meantime throttle potential avenues of savings and innovation.

But the Pentagon is not the only culprit here, and Dan Grazier’s article points to the pork-barrel caucus in Congress as a huge part of the problem in the misallocation of our defense funds. In this case, the culprits are ranking Appropriations committee members Senator Richard Shelby from Alabama and Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. And lest we feel that these distinguished Solons are simply doing their part to preserve America’s ability to build its own weapons:

Industrial base concerns are important, but when they’re the only remaining justification for a program, they amount to an admission that the product was never worth the investment. They also demonstrate that the keening about a “readiness crisis” is often just a subterfuge for more pork-barrel spending.

Keep in mind that Grazier is not coming at this from the armchair: he is a retired captain in the US Marine Corps and a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan.

So as we hold the Pentagon accountable, so must we hold Congress – and specific members of that body – accountable for their excesses. Do not let these people hide their corruption behind the flag or the Capitol Building.

 

 

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The Koch Machine Readies its Lifeboats

Whatever the reason, for many Americans, the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton has turned out to be no choice at all. A few of us harbored hopes that he at least might confront the Blob and begin to reorient U.S. foreign policy. But that was not to be.

Source: Trump Surrenders to the Foreign Policy Blob | The American Conservative by Doug Bandow

The schadenfreude I feel when watching Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute lose his lunch over Trump’s apparent leap into the neoconservative foreign policy pool is tempered by sympathy to his point, a matter I will turn to Tuesday.

For now, it is worth noting that the Koch machine and the libertarian right has lost what it thought would be a champion of a new foreign policy. I can only assume that these forces have begun to search for a replacement candidate and that we will not have to wait long into 2019 to hear from him (or her.)

 

The Color Yellow

I’m old enough to remember a time when we didn’t have to wonder whether or not the Kremlin has a secret video of the President of the United States paying Russian hookers to urinate on a bed in his Moscow hotel room.

Source: The Pee Tape | The American Conservative by Rod Dreher

First off, Rod Dreher’s lede above may turn out to be the single line that best sums up the through-the-looking-glass world in which we have lived Donald Trump declared his candidacy on June 15, 2015.

Second, though, the entire issue demonstrates the craven cowardice of POTUS 45. A courageous person would defy the Kremlin to release the tape, and face the music rather than live with the implication that Putin could hold him by the leash of blackmail.

Unfortunately (and unsurprisingly,) the current occupant of the Oval Office has proven himself a coward of the worst order, morally unfit for any position of responsibility for human life, much less the responsibility of command, much less the responsibility of Commander-in-Chief.

The White House’s response to this situation is a litmus test of the character of its current tenant. The grade thus far is an F-.

Easy, Pentagon

The military is currently eroding under cuts from the Budget Control Act.

Source: Rebuilding the Military Comes With a Price Tag. But the Price of Waiting Is Higher.

Yes, the military needs rebuilding. But not with gold-plated white elephant programs and outdated weapons systems sucking up the lion’s share of the budget.

We need to start rebuilding the military by rebuilding procurement and by taking a flamethrower to the military-industrial-congressional iron triangle that is turning the military that won WWII into the one that lost at Dien Bien Phu.

Tory, Tory Hallelujah 

In the wake of one of the most outspoken political campaigns in American history, the most inspiring political address that I have heard in a decade did not come from an American leader, but an English one.

Not everyone will agree with all of what British Prime Minister Theresa May says. Yet even her opponents must concede that hers was the most coherent expression of a right-centrist approach to the world order that we have heard in America in a very long time. It was positively Churchillian.

Her speech was to me as much a silent pointed finger at the intellectual bankruptcy of the American right as it was a foreign policy manifesto for the American center. It pandered to neither left nor right. It was liberal internationalism tempered by realpolitik, a recognition that whole-cloth globalism must be amalgamated with a respect for the nation-state as the best servant of the people, and a focus on the well-being of all people, not just oligarchs and corporations.

She covered a great deal of ground, and I’ll be excerpting over her speech over next few weeks.

Defense: How to use the V-22

Source: V-22 Experiment On Carrier Shows Increased Flexibility Over C-2 In COD Mission – USNI News

More flexibility, but less capacity and less range.

Once again, our Navy is overselling their egg-beater.

You want to impress me? Start flying COD missions to small surface combatants. That’s the role for which the OV-22 is best suited. It’s a better CH-46 Sea Knight, not a C-2 Greyhound replacement.

The South China Sea Problem Begins in Manila

The powerful lawmaker wants to get tough now to stop China’s island-building efforts before it’s too late.

Source: John McCain is done pussyfooting around with China

We can argue about whether America has the wherewithal to contain Chinese irredentism, but the responsibility to contain China’s territorial ambitions begins with the states in the region. It is past time for the leaders of Southeast Asia to accept that they cannot canoodle with China via ASEAN and bilateral trade, and then expect America to guard them against Chinese adventurism. Responsibility for regional security begins in region, must be led in region, and the United States should only step in  when the maximum concerted efforts of the region’s nations have proven incapable of stopping China. And even then, we should do so as a part of a clear, united front, not as the sole bearer of burdens.

In particular, it is difficult to conjure much sympathy for the Philippines. The late Corazon Aquino called U.S. bases on Philippine soil “an affront to national sovereignty.” We can argue about whether she was right, but what is clear is that once she managed to summarily eject the U.S. Navy from Subic Bay and the Air Force from Clark Air Base, she – and her successors – utterly failed to replace the shield the US military had provided. The Philippine armed forces are a bad joke, first tossing their professionalism to the wind in a series of domestic political interventions, then intentionally weakened by sequential administrations who (not without reason) feared the specter of a military coup.

Such is the lot of a bored military with no external threats. But times have changed, and China’s actions are enabled in no small part by their unvarnished assessment of the Philippine military as being aught more than toy soldiers.

The Philippines is overdue to create an armed force capable of defending the nation. Until they at least begin such an effort in earnest, the US should live by the letter of its treaty obligations, and no more.