December 1, 2016
WILLIAM HARTUNG, williamhartung55 [at] gmail.com, @williamhartung
Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. He is the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.
He recently wrote the piece “A Pentagon Rising: Is a Trump Presidency Good News for the Military-Industrial Complex?” for TomDispatch, which states: “The person currently rumored to be the frontrunner … is General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, a 44-year Marine and former head of the U.S. Central Command who left the military in 2013 amid disagreements with the Obama administration over how many troops to deploy in Iraq and how hard a line to take on Iran. According to a Washington Post profile of Mattis, he ‘consistently pushed the military to punish Iran and its allies, including calling for more covert actions to capture and kill Iranian operatives and interdictions of Iranian warships.’ …
“Pentagon spending is one of the worst possible ways of creating jobs. Much of the money goes to service contractors, arms industry executives, and defense consultants (also known as ‘Beltway bandits’), and what does go into the actual building of weapons systems underwrites a relatively small number of manufactured items, at least when compared to mass production industries like automobiles or steel.
“In addition, such spending is the definition of an economic dead end. If you put taxpayer money into education or infrastructure, you lay the foundations for further growth. If you spend money on an F-35 fighter plane, you get… well, an overpriced F-35. …
“If Trump really wants to create jobs for his base, he should obviously pursue infrastructure investment rather than dumping vast sums into weapons the country doesn’t actually need at prices it can’t afford.
“At present, with its proposals for steep military spending increases and deep tax cuts, Trump’s budget plan looks like Reaganomics on steroids. A Democratic Congress and citizens’ movements like the nuclear freeze campaign managed to blunt Reagan’s most extreme policy proposals. The next few years will determine what happens with Mr. Trump’s own exercise in fantasy budgeting.”