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Cockburn writes: "These days, lamenting the apparently aimless character of Washington's military operations in the Greater Middle East has become conventional wisdom among administration critics of every sort. Senator John McCain thunders that 'this president has no strategy to successfully reverse the tide of slaughter and mayhem' in that region. Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies bemoans the 'lack of a viable and public strategy.' Andrew Bacevich suggests that 'there is no strategy. None. Zilch.'"

US Army Special Forces are seen doing training exercises at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, not unlike the kind of exercises done at military bases the world over. (photo: USAOC News Service/Flickr/Creative Commons)
US Army Special Forces are seen doing training exercises at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, not unlike the kind of exercises done at military bases the world over. (photo: USAOC News Service/Flickr/Creative Commons)

The Pentagon's Real $trategy: Keeping the Money Flowing

By Andrew Cockburn, TomDispatch

18 June 16


When it comes to Pentagon weapons systems, have you ever heard of cost “underruns”? I think not. Cost overruns? They turn out to be the unbreachable norm, as they seem to have been from time immemorial. In 1982, for example, the Pentagon announced that the cumulative cost of its 44 major weapons programs had experienced a “record” increase of $114.5 billion. Three decades later, in the spring of 2014, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the military’s major programs to develop new weapons systems -- by then 80 of them -- were a cumulative half-trillion dollars over their initial estimated price tags and on average more than two years delayed. A year after, the GAO found that 47 of those programs had again increased in cost (to the cumulative tune of $27 billion) while the average time for delivering them had suffered another month’s delay (although the Pentagon itself swore otherwise).

And little seems to have changed since then -- not exactly a surprise given that this has long been standard operating procedure for a Pentagon that has proven adamantly incapable not just of passing an audit but even of doing one. What we’re talking about here is, in fact, more like a way of life. As TomDispatch regular William Hartung has written, the Pentagon regularly takes “active measures to disguise how it is spending the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars it receives every year -- from using the separate ‘war budget’ as a slush fund to pay for pet projects that have nothing to do with fighting wars to keeping the cost of its new nuclear bomber a secret.”

When it comes to those cost overruns, Exhibit A is incontestably the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a plane whose total acquisition costs were pegged at $233 billion back in 2001. That price now: an estimated $1.4 trillion for far fewer planes. (Even the F-35 pilot’s helmet costs $400,000 apiece.) In other words, though in test flights it has failed to outperform the F-16, a plane it is supposed to replace, it will be, hands down (or flaps up), the most expensive weapons system in history -- at least until the next Pentagon doozy comes along.

Today, Andrew Cockburn, whose recent book, Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins (just out in paperback), is a devastating account of how U.S. drone warfare really works, suggests that this is anything but a matter of Pentagon bungling. Quite the opposite, it’s strategy of the first order.

-Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch

The Pentagon’s Real $trategy
Keeping the Money Flowing

hese days, lamenting the apparently aimless character of Washington’s military operations in the Greater Middle East has become conventional wisdom among administration critics of every sort. Senator John McCain thunders that “this president has no strategy to successfully reverse the tide of slaughter and mayhem” in that region. Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies bemoans the “lack of a viable and public strategy.” Andrew Bacevich suggests that “there is no strategy. None. Zilch.”

After 15 years of grinding war with no obvious end in sight, U.S. military operations certainly deserve such obloquy. But the pundit outrage may be misplaced. Focusing on Washington rather than on distant war zones, it becomes clear that the military establishment does indeed have a strategy, a highly successful one, which is to protect and enhance its own prosperity.

Given this focus, creating and maintaining an effective fighting force becomes a secondary consideration, reflecting a relative disinterest -- remarkable to outsiders -- in the actual business of war, as opposed to the business of raking in dollars for the Pentagon and its industrial and political partners. A key element of the strategy involves seeding the military budget with “development” projects that require little initial outlay but which, down the line, grow irreversibly into massive, immensely profitable production contracts for our weapons-making cartels.

If this seems like a startling proposition, consider, for instance, the Air Force’s determined and unyielding efforts to jettison the A-10 Thunderbolt, widely viewed as the most effective means for supporting troops on the ground, while ardently championing the sluggish, vastly overpriced F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that, among myriad other deficiencies, cannot fly within 25 miles of a thunderstorm. No less telling is the Navy’s ongoing affection for budget-busting programs such as aircraft carriers, while maintaining its traditional disdain for the unglamorous and money-poor mission of minesweeping, though the mere threat of enemy mines in the 1991 Gulf War (as in the Korean War decades earlier) stymied plans for major amphibious operations. Examples abound across all the services.  

Meanwhile, ongoing and dramatic programs to invest vast sums in meaningless, useless, or superfluous weapons systems are the norm. There is no more striking example of this than current plans to rebuild the entire American arsenal of nuclear weapons in the coming decades, Obama's staggering bequest to the budgets of his successors.

Taking Nuclear Weapons to the Bank 

These nuclear initiatives have received far less attention than they deserve, perhaps because observers are generally loath to acknowledge that the Cold War and its attendant nuclear terrors, supposedly consigned to the ashcan of history a quarter-century ago, are being revived on a significant scale. The U.S. is currently in the process of planning for the construction of a new fleet of nuclear submarines loaded with new intercontinental nuclear missiles, while simultaneously creating a new land-based intercontinental missile, a new strategic nuclear bomber, a new land-and-sea-based tactical nuclear fighter plane, a new long-range nuclear cruise missile (which, as recently as 2010, the Obama administration explicitly promised not to develop), at least three nuclear warheads that are essentially new designs, and new fuses for existing warheads. In addition, new nuclear command-and-control systems are under development for a fleet of satellites (costing up to $1 billion each) designed to make the business of fighting a nuclear war more practical and manageable.  

This massive nuclear buildup, routinely promoted under the comforting rubric of “modernization,” stands in contrast to the president’s lofty public ruminations on the topic of nuclear weapons. The most recent of these was delivered during his visit -- the first by an American president -- to Hiroshima last month. There, he urged “nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles” to “have the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without them.”

In reality, that “logic of fear” suggests that there is no way to “fight” a nuclear war, given the unforeseeable but horrific effects of these immensely destructive weapons.  They serve no useful purpose beyond deterring putative opponents from using them, for which an extremely limited number would suffice. During the Berlin crisis of 1961, for example, when the Soviets possessed precisely four intercontinental nuclear missiles, White House planners seriously contemplated launching an overwhelming nuclear strike on the USSR.  It was, they claimed, guaranteed to achieve “victory.” As Fred Kaplan recounts in his book Wizards of Armageddon, the plan’s advocates conceded that the Soviets might, in fact, be capable of managing a limited form of retaliation with their few missiles and bombers in which as many as three million Americans could be killed, whereupon the plan was summarily rejected.

In other words, in the Cold War as today, the idea of “nuclear war-fighting” could not survive scrutiny in a real-world context. Despite this self-evident truth, the U.S. military has long been the pioneer in devising rationales for fighting such a war via ever more “modernized” weapons systems. Thus, when first introduced in the early 1960s, the Navy’s invulnerable Polaris-submarine-launched intercontinental missiles -- entirely sufficient in themselves as a deterrent force against any potential nuclear enemy -- were seen within the military as an attack on Air Force operations and budgets. The Air Force responded by conceiving and successfully selling the need for a full-scale, land-based missile force as well, one that could more precisely target enemy missiles in what was termed a “counterforce” strategy.

The drive to develop and build such systems on the irrational pretense that nuclear war fighting is a practical proposition persists today.  One component of the current “modernization” plan is the proposed development of a new “dial-a-yield” version of the venerable B-61 nuclear bomb. Supposedly capable of delivering explosions of varying strength according to demand, this device will, at least theoretically, be guidable to its target with high degrees of accuracy and will also be able to burrow deep into the earth to destroy buried bunkers. The estimated bill -- $11 billion -- is a welcome boost for the fortunes of the Sandia and Los Alamos weapons laboratories that are developing it. 

The ultimate cost of this new nuclear arsenal in its entirety is essentially un-knowable. The only official estimate we have so far came from the Congressional Budget Office, which last year projected a total of $350 billion. That figure, however, takes the “modernization” program only to 2024 -- before, that is, most of the new systems move from development to actual production and the real bills for all of this start thudding onto taxpayers’ doormats. This year, for instance, the Navy is spending a billion and a half dollars in research and development funds on its new missile submarine, known only as the SSBN(X). Between 2025 and 2035, however, annual costs for that program are projected to run at $10 billion a year. Similar escalations are in store for the other items on the military’s impressive nuclear shopping list. 

Assiduously tabulating these projections, experts at the Monterey Center for Nonproliferation Studies peg the price of the total program at a trillion dollars. In reality, though, the true bill that will come due over the next few decades will almost certainly be multiples of that. For example, the Air Force has claimed that its new B-21 strategic bombers will each cost more than $564 million (in 2010 dollars), yet resolutely refuses to release its secret internal estimates for the ultimate cost of the program. 

To offer a point of comparison, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the tactical nuclear bomber previously mentioned, was originally touted as costing no more than $35 million per plane. In fact, it will actually enter service with a sticker price well in excess of $200 million.  

Nor does that trillion-dollar figure take into account the inevitable growth of America’s nuclear “shield.” Nowadays, the excitement and debate once generated by President Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” scheme to build a defense system of anti-missile missiles and other devices against a nuclear attack is long gone. (The idea for such a defense, in fact, dates back to the 1950s, but Reagan boosted it to prominence.) Nevertheless, missile defense still routinely soaks up some $10 billion of our money annually, even though it is known to have no utility whatsoever. 

“We have nothing to show for it,” Tom Christie, the former director of the Pentagon’s testing office, told me recently. “None of the interceptors we currently have in silos waiting to shoot down enemy missiles have ever worked in tests.” Even so, the U.S. is busy constructing more anti-missile bases across Eastern Europe. As our offensive nuclear programs are built up in the years to come, almost certainly eliciting a response from Russia and China, the pressure for a costly expansion of our nuclear “defenses” will surely follow.

The Bow-Wave Strategy 

It’s easy enough to find hypocrisy in President Obama’s mellifluous orations on abolishing nuclear weapons given the trillion-dollar-plus nuclear legacy he will leave in his wake. The record suggests, however, that faced with the undeviating strategic thinking of the military establishment and its power to turn desires into policy, he has simply proven as incapable of altering the Washington system as his predecessors in the Oval Office were or as his successors are likely to be. 

Inside the Pentagon, budget planners and weapons-buyers talk of the “bow wave,” referring to the process by which current research and development initiatives, initially relatively modest in cost, invariably lock in commitments to massive spending down the road. Traditionally, such waves start to form at times when the military is threatened with possible spending cutbacks due to the end of a war or some other budgetary crisis.

Former Pentagon analyst Franklin “Chuck” Spinney, who spent years observing and chronicling the phenomenon from the inside, recalls an early 1970s bow wave at a time when withdrawal from Vietnam appeared to promise a future of reduced defense spending. The military duly put in place an ambitious “modernization” program for new planes, ships, tanks, satellites, and missiles. Inevitably, when it came time to actually buy all those fancy new systems, there was insufficient money in the defense budget. 

Accordingly, the high command cut back on spending for “readiness”; that is, for maintaining existing weapons in working order, training troops, and similar mundane activities. This had the desired effect -- at least from the point of view of Pentagon -- of generating a raft of media and congressional horror stories about the shocking lack of preparedness of our fighting forces and the urgent need to boost its budget. In this way, the hapless Jimmy Carter, elected to the presidency on a promise to rein in defense spending, found himself, in Spinney’s phrase, "mousetrapped," and eventually unable to resist calls for bigger military budgets. 

This pattern would recur at the beginning of the 1990s when the Soviet Union imploded and the Cold War superpower military confrontation seemed at an end.  The result was the germination of ultimately budget-busting weapons systems like the Air Force’s F-35 and F-22 fighters. It happened again when pullbacks from Iraq and Afghanistan in Obama’s first term led to mild military spending cuts. As Spinney points out, each successive bow wave crests at a higher level, while military budget cuts due to wars ending and the like become progressively more modest. 

The latest nuclear buildup is only the most glaring and egregious example of the present bow wave that is guaranteed to grow to monumental proportions long after Obama has retired to full-time speechmaking. The cost of the first of the Navy’s new Ford Class aircraft carriers, for example, has already grown by 20% to $13 billion with more undoubtedly to come. The “Third Offset Strategy,” a fantasy-laden shopping list of robot drones and “centaur” (half-man, half-machine) weapons systems, assiduously touted by Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, is similarly guaranteed to expand stunningly beyond the $3.6 billion allotted to its development next year.  

Faced with such boundlessly ambitious raids on the public purse, no one should claim a “lack of strategy” as a failing among our real policymakers, even if all that planning has little or nothing to do with distant war zones where Washington’s conflicts smolder relentlessly on.  

Andrew Cockburn is the Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine. An Irishman, he has covered national security topics in this country for many years. In addition to numerous books, he co-produced the 1997 feature film The Peacemaker and the 2009 documentary on the financial crisis, American Casino. His latest book is Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins (just out in paperback). 

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. your social media marketing partner


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+50 # Activista 2016-06-18 15:17
$600 billion military budget/welfare waste is sick/criminal in our $600 billion deficit economy. This military-indust rial drug is destroying America.
Almost all other issues are secondary.
+15 # mozartssister 2016-06-19 08:42
Yes. That's exactly it. We are choking to death on our own sickness.
+16 # mh1224jst 2016-06-19 08:56
All other issues that in any way involve money truly are secondary, or at least corollary. The relentless drive for profits (capitalism) is responsible for virtually all of our major problems. from sagging employment and incomes, and declining health care and education, to our major political problems like voting rights and gun control. We need to reexamine "socialism," which never was anything more than a philosophy that proposed living together in harmony and peace, and relative prosperity.
+18 # reiverpacific 2016-06-19 09:36
Quoting Activista:
$600 billion military budget/welfare waste is sick/criminal in our $600 billion deficit economy. This military-industrial drug is destroying America.
Almost all other issues are secondary.

Yet the US of Armaments still can't even get Universal Healthcare "On the Table"!!!!
+9 # Vardoz 2016-06-19 13:47
As our children go to bed hungry & we have the highest poverty rate of any developed nation, this clearly shows that our military does not give a damn about the health, safety & welfare of the majority of American citizens. This is why Bernie Sanders has called for us to GET INVOLVED in every level of government as Progressives for a Socialist agenda. We MUST vote in those that agree with Bernie Sanders morals & policies. Many are already running. We must also not reelect those super delegate senators that did not endorse Bernie. Calling them and telling them they will not be getting your vote is particularly gratifying. 202-224-3121. Why support a rep that doesn't support their base? For those who do not intend on voting for HRC, we better damn well change the house & senate or else risk a GOP house & senate that will destroy us. If this is truly OUR revolution & if we are actually going to make changes everyone needs to do whatever they can to fight the current abusive & ruthless system whose myopic vision sees nothing but dollar signs & new ways to kill people.
+43 # RMDC 2016-06-18 18:39
Thanks. This is an important article. Of course, permanent war is really the most effective way to transfer wealth from the tax paying middle class to the very wealthy who are the investors and owners of the weapons industry.

Those who support Hillary should know that the Bush/Clinton dynasty is the main political front for the weapons industry. The Bush family emerged as weapons dealers during the civil war. They have been investors in weapons ever since. That is why the Bush dynasty always chooses war. Hillary is part of this dynasty.

All the problems the world faces could be solved if the money spent on weapons were redirected to projects that help people. We have homelessness, poverty, starvation, lack of healthcare, unsanitary water because the funds that belong to the people are being diverted to the bank accounts of billionaire weapons sellers.

The only way to stop this is a tax revolt. Don't way war taxes. Refuse and Resist. Dry up the money supply.
+19 # wrknight 2016-06-18 21:42
Quoting RMDC:
...Those who support Hillary should know that the Bush/Clinton dynasty is the main political front for the weapons industry. The Bush family emerged as weapons dealers during the civil war. They have been investors in weapons ever since. That is why the Bush dynasty always chooses war. Hillary is part of this dynasty.

You are discounting Reagan!?
+14 # lfeuille 2016-06-18 23:07
Is CURRENTLY the main political front for the weapons industry.

Reagan is dead.
+17 # lorenbliss 2016-06-19 02:52
Actually I think he is alive and well in the person of Hillary Clinton. So is Barry Goldwater. Somebody PLEASE get a copy of Goldwater"s "Conscience of a Conservative" and compare his ideology to hers. I strongly believe such a comparison will reveal Hillary as a clandestine Goldwater girl who is fulfilling her messiah's dream of access to the Doomsday button.
+9 # mh1224jst 2016-06-19 09:07
Reagan is dead, but Reaganomics is alive and well and the official policy of the GOP.
+13 # lorenbliss 2016-06-19 11:44
That's only half right. It's also the official policy of the Democratic Party -- a twinship easily explained by the fact the two parties themselves are owned by the same people.
+13 # tedrey 2016-06-18 22:38
But the taxes are taken out of most of our paychecks during the year before we see the cash. How do we Refuse and Resist paying them?
+15 # RMDC 2016-06-19 04:56
ted -- the witholding of taxes is voluntary. There's a box to check on the W-4 which says "if you believe you will owe no taxes at the end of the year, check here and no tax will be withheld." Or close to that. Then nothing is taken out. You can decide to pay at the end of the year for the non-war portion of your tax bill.

look here --

Of course, you run a risk. But it is not that bad.
+7 # economagic 2016-06-19 11:11
I went on strike against the machine shortly after graduating from college in 1968 (just barely). I was not turned on, I was not tuned in, but for some reason I did not drop out. I refused induction at the infamous Oakland Induction Center after my CO claim was duly rejected (never heard from the SS again), and THEN dropped out for most of the next 25 years. In that time my gross income never reached ten thousand dollars in a year (something over twenty thousand in today's dollars). I got by, lived more comfortably than a lot of people, and paid little income tax.

From 1994, when I entered grad school, until I retired at the end of 2015, I averaged around 27 thousand. (Surely it was more than that, but numerical estimation is one of my stronger skills!) My Social Security "contributions" starting in the late 70s assured me of a reasonable income from that source, and after I returned to full time work I accumulated a state pension of a few hundred dollars, both until the vandals steal them.

It's not for everybody, and one of my few regrets for that entire period is that I paid as much war tax as I did. But through root beer tastes, Scottish frugality, grace, and plain blind luck I feel like I have lived much better than I expected when I left college, while contributing a good deal less to the war machine than many of my peers whose constraints were different.
+1 # economagic 2016-06-19 14:17
In keeping my income modest I have also helped to restrain GDP growth, a measure of nothing particularly beneficial!
+9 # mh1224jst 2016-06-19 09:03
Quite right, RMDC. And they think there is no limit to what the economy will provide to them. The truth is that the inequality produced by bleeding the shrinking middle class actually shrinks the economy substantially. No media focus on this reality, as yet, exists, because as you point out a "tax revolt" is required -- more precisely, reestablishing the significant taxation of the wealthy abandoned by the Reagan revolution. (Google "Reinventing Economics")
+32 # guomashi 2016-06-18 18:58
The problem is capitalism itself.

Absent raw materials, the only way to profit is to suck dry the public trough.

War is the easiest way to do that, people are frightened enough to give away their money.

The death of America wouldn't be so distasteful if there were at least some microscopic smidgeon of consciousness associated with it.

Apparently there isn't.
+32 # wrknight 2016-06-18 21:47
No, the real problem is the American electorate who is too apathetic, too gullible and too lazy to vet those for whom they vote. Like it or not, the people who are sucking us dry are the very people we elected.

Come on America, WAKE THE F'K UP!
+5 # wantrealdemocracy 2016-06-19 15:00
voters in the United States have no idea of how their 'representative ' votes. They know they have to vote for a D or an R, which they do. To vote for any independent or 'minor' party is to throw your vote away.

Well, where has this gotten us? Are things any better than they were 20 years ago? or has it steadily gotten worse?

Maybe it is time to be more careful about how you vote. Maybe it is time to abandon both of the major political parties. Maybe? Maybe they are working for the greedy few and screwing the great majority of the American people. Maybe it is the 99% under the control of the 1%. Maybe? Is there any doubt?

As wrknight says, WAKE THE F'K UP!
+5 # economagic 2016-06-19 11:30
"The death of America wouldn't be so distasteful if there were at least some microscopic smidgeon of consciousness associated with it."

WE are it, Bro. That puts some responsibility upon those of us (many) who are conscious of the reality. See my rely to Anonymot, below. There are many ways to promote and practice the consciousness we seek to expand.
+34 # wrknight 2016-06-18 22:12
"Senator John McCain thunders that “this president has no strategy to successfully reverse the tide of slaughter and mayhem” in that region."

McCain's strategy is more bombs, more missiles, more troops and more slaughter. The end result will be more money for the pentagon and more enemies we have to defend against. Every f'king bomb, every missile and every drone that kills some innocent civilian spawns 10 more enemies. But no one cares because that justifies more money for the pentagon.

Hey, it's win, win for the pentagon! Give them more money and let them kill more people which creates more enemies for America and justifies giving the the pentagon more money. You can't beat that strategy.

Death is becoming America's leading export.
+28 # Anonymot 2016-06-18 22:19
Yes, we know the above save for a few new details. We've know it for some time. The question is, what's the answer?

The MSM won't disseminate this info in print, TV or webwise.

There are but Two parties that rule (so far) and certainly neither of them are prepared to do anything about it, because they are part of the beneficiaries of the corruption.

If 3 million of Sanders' 11 million did a tax revolt the first 100 people slapped in prison would break that up. Even Sanders did not make that a main and precise issue which disappointed me.

We need to break up corporations like Boeing and the manufacturers of everything military from guns to uniforms to tanks, and boots just as much as we need to break up the banks.

But the reality is that we are trapped in a mindless Deep State that is hellbent on opening new wars with Russia, Iran, and China as well as pouring a little more gas on the ones we've got.

The two candidates who say they oppose this destruction, Sanders and Trump, probably will not be candidates come election time so it will go on.

Most of all, it is the Deep State intention to fire this up a level or two immediately after the inauguration.

Anyone have realistic ideas for a solution?
+7 # Skyelav 2016-06-19 08:38
There are people out there who have vowed not to let Hillary anywhere near the WH.
+5 # economagic 2016-06-19 11:27
As I have said many times in these pages, I don't think we can stop the juggernaut, although we may be able to turn its course somewhat. I do not think that electoral politics will save us from a collapse and/or bottleneck of some kind. We can see a number of possible outlines.

With crisis comes great danger but also great opportunity (the compound Chinese character that we translate as "crisis.") The opportunity is to build the "[An]Other World [that] IS Possible" under the shadow of the old as it collapses about our shoulders. Start with the Institute For Local Self Reliance, then the Transition movement, then proceed to the hundreds or thousands of other movements worldwide seeking to re-establish and re-invigorate local communities and local economies, starting with Slow Food (.com), financed with Slow Money (.org). And have another listen to John Prine's "Spanish Pipedream" (1971).
+29 # wrknight 2016-06-18 22:19
One of the key problems of military superiority in a nation is that it encourages military adventurism by its leaders.
+5 # Skyelav 2016-06-19 08:39
That's probably the reason Oppenheimer leaked the bomb to the USSR
+19 # futhark 2016-06-18 22:58
"This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live." Deuteronomy 30:19
(New International Version).

And yet we continue to choose death over life by abusing and squandering our resources in building and maintaining the most expensive and horrific military establishment in human history. Is this not insanity and damnation?
+9 # economagic 2016-06-19 11:17
It is, and I'm a spiritual atheist (don't even get me started).
+24 # janie1893 2016-06-19 00:37
For years I have said the Pentagon runs the USA. We are now at the point that instead of the tail wagging the dog, the tail has become the dog. Interesting--th e USA exists to maintain, develop and
support a war machine, the biggest the world has ever seen.
Very scary!
+9 # walt 2016-06-19 06:35
And the secret as to how they pull all this off on the public is simple. They create fear and a need to feed that fear. The naive then shout out that "Terrorism is our greatest threat' while chanting "Support our troops." Meanwhile the US infrastructure and people are hurting badly while the neocon war hawks are busy getting us ready for more war.

In the upcoming election now there seem to be two choices with Trump and Clinton, and both will lead us to more war with the latter being the more likely of the two. Only Bernie Sanders appears to have a sane approach as he cautions that we don't need to be involved in every action around the world. Sadly, it seems he is being pushed aside and we can be sure that neocon lobby loot has played a significant part of that while promoting their first choice for war, good old HRC.
+4 # kundrol 2016-06-19 09:38
Right - by way of election fraud. We need to support those who are publicizing this fact. The Stanford University report is a good place to start. Spread it around so that it goes viral along with any other reports that do a good job of presenting this information. We all know it happened. Let's do something about it!
+5 # jpmarat 2016-06-19 07:59
JFK defeated Nixon by claiming Nixon-Ike had allowed a missile gap, more USSR than USA missiles, despite the BANG of ours. If Dems don't match, or beat, GOP war spending, voters will dump them. Even Bernie did not dare campaign against Ike's MIC. Why?
Us. the American PEOPLE want, demand, that spending. The American PEOPLE demand that we outspend most of the rest of the world, combined. Pogo said, "WE have met the enemy, and they are us." We are a belligerent People, demanding that politicians use deadly force to impose OUR demented will. Sick.
+4 # Anonymot 2016-06-19 10:17
We are Teutonics returning to our origins.Sooner than later we will exchange the two-step for the goose step. Hillary has already learned that one.
+6 # economagic 2016-06-19 11:34
That is a part of the reality, but not the whole. The Pogo quote is apt as always. (The original, a reprint of which is on my shelf, in Walt Kelly's inimitable fractured take on the accent of the Deep South, is "We have met the enemy and he is us." It referred to pollution at about the time of the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts!)
+9 # Skyelav 2016-06-19 08:42
Yes and in the end JFK was assassinated probably and mainly because he refused to escalate the war in Vietnam
+7 # ChrisCurrie 2016-06-19 11:21
Congress should start by deleting the hundreds of million of US dollars of expenditures which the Pentagon can't validly account for from the Defense Budget. And then they should terminate "corporate welfare programs" like the non-cost-effect ive F-35 Program and the "Strategic Missile Defense System."
+3 # Anonymot 2016-06-19 15:01
If we had a Congress that was truly interested in public needs, you'd be right. When we talk about "campaign fundraising" large parts of the funds are funneled into the personal welfare of the individual funded, aside from whatever under the table envelopes and hidden benefits there are.

Graft has been around since Moses, but when 5% of the congress spilled some into their pockets, it's very different than when 75% do it. Ask Hillary. Ask those who used the revolving door. Corruption has won the game. This is not Monopoly. Collect the two hundred million and don't go to jail. Or ask those bureaucrats who make their living from war like Petraeus, Ridge, Chertoff, and Napolitano just for starters.
-3 # Robbee 2016-06-19 12:09
r- our local rump trojan! - such an easy mark! - dupe! - says - # RMDC 2016-06-18 18:39
Those who support Hillary should know that the Bush/Clinton dynasty is the main political front for the weapons industry. (while rump? on the other hand? cares not? for our MIC?)

- so r- lets compare promises? okay? and see who loves military spending most? okay? - let's start with rump? okay?

rump promises -
1) torture prisoners!
2) kill spouses and children of enemies whom our "patriot act" says he names;
3) curb press free speech! also protect billionaires from slander!
4) on his first day in office, tear up the iran treaty (that prevents iran from building nukes!)
5) deport 11 million illegals!
6) build a wall clear across mexico!
7) make mexico pay for it (which takes invading and occupying mexico!)
8) nominate to scotus, a "justice", or 3, or 4, just like scalia!
10) cut income taxes almost in half! for the rich only!
11) register and ground muslims from air travel! and
12) "rebuild our military”!
13) “make" america "great! again!”
14) abolish hate crimes!
15) abolish planned parenthood!
16) abolish dodd-frank! and
17) implement his “great”, but secret, plan to destroy isis!

- note - promises that do not directly expand our military prevent funding services to us 99%!
-6 # Robbee 2016-06-19 12:20
next! 12 things hill consistently promises! to do! - that rump promises not to!

1) equal pay for women!
2) paid family medical leave at birth!
3) raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour!
4) hill beat bernie to 1st proposing a path to citizenship for illegals!
5) civil rights for oppressed minorities - blacks! latinos! lgbt! muslims and union members!
6) gun control! more progressive than bernie!
7) bernie and hill both endorse obama's iran treaty!
8) in 2006, while in the senate, hill proposed sweeping reform of shadow banking, including jailing banksters and protecting whistle-blowers!
9) while in the senate together, bernie and hill voted together 93% of the time!
10) hill proposes to expand the ACA to cover everyone! - plus add the public option! - hill proposes incremental, but real, progress!
11) support choice! women’s reproductive rights!
12) fund planned parenthood!

note that military spending is not the be all! end all! of hill's campaign! - our choice! is clear! - between a pure militarist and a progressive! yes! progressive! prez! - who cares about american humans! - not just cheney-rumsfeld style imperialism!

- at last? have you no shame? you zombie rump-kissers? - withdraw! go back to rump HQ! - report another win! - once again! defeating bernie! warren! reich! scott galindez! marc ash! steve weissman! wm. boardman! and frank rich! in your constant string of wins! here on rsn! go kiss rump!
+2 # davehaze 2016-06-19 23:45

Ego and delusion have gotten the better of you. Best to be silent and heal.

Leave us alone.
-2 # Robbee 2016-06-20 08:26
gangsta 12 trolls for rump! again! -

on may 6th, some 22 readers spoke out - clamoring for more sympathetic coverage of rump! - who had been unfairly criticized by bernie, reich and warren! -

here's my may 6th running tab on who's smarter than reich, bernie and warren put together - so far! -

1) # jimallyn 2016-05-06 15:14
"... Hillary Clinton will lose to Donald Trump ..."

2) # dbrize 2016-05-06 15:29
"... (hill) won't be an authoritarian dictator? ..."

3) # grandlakeguy 2016-05-06 14:59
"... Trump will dump so much dirt (of her own making) on (hill) that even (her) own supporters will not vote for (her) ..."

4) # Crebbafrabitz 2016-05-06 11:30
"... vote for the Criminal Clinton!!! NEVER!!!"

5) # 2016-05-06 14:02
"... I am much more afraid of her than Trump ..."

6) # Johnny 2016-05-06 14:16
"Better Trump, the clown, than Hillary Clinton, the sadistic murderer."

7) # Anonymot 2016-05-06 14:31
"I, for one, doubt that the Clintons will be better than the Trump ..."

8) # djnova50 2016-05-06 14:36
"... Come November, if my only options are to vote for Hillary, Donald, or an Independent, I will vote Independent."

9) # Buddha 2016-05-06 14:38
"... I refuse to accept their narrative that if I don't hold my nose and vote for HRC …”
-1 # Robbee 2016-06-20 08:27
tally, pt. 2

12) # davehaze 2016-05-06 15:50
"Would Trump be any worse a president than ... Hillary Clinton? ... Personally I don't want to be responsible for either of them."

- we seem to be getting far too much input, here on rsn, from just reich, bernie and warren! - it seems rsn should start running rump campaign press releases! - start fielding opinion pieces by chris christie! ben carson! reince priebus! - apologies to all the fine pols i inadvertently omitted! - if only to get an unbiased picture! of the presumptive GOP nominee!

13) # Billy Bob 2016-05-06 11:35
"... Trump is no threat at all ..."

14) # RMDC 2016-05-05 15:11
Well said, Crebbie. # Crebbafrabitz 2016-05-05 14:37
"She can "talk" going left until she falls in the Pacific and I wouldn't vote for the piece of lying, corrupt garbage!!!"

15) # lorenbliss 2016-05-06 00:52
"RMDC: Your analysis is surely correct, but I think Hillary will actually do much worse."

16) # FIRSTNORN1 2016-05-06 08:01
"... If NO Bernie, then we will support Trump ..."

17) # economagic 2016-05-06 09:51
"You go, Loren! I will NOT support Trump -- or anyone else I do not support."

18) # Radscal 2016-05-06 14:38
Exactly, Billy Bob ... IF we end up with a Drumpf Presidency, it will NOT be the fault of we who remain true to our moral values.

19) # Linda 2016-05-06 10:09
"... if Hillary is the nominee ! I don't vote for liars and cheats!”
-1 # Robbee 2016-06-20 08:28
tally, pt. 3

20) # laurele 2016-05-06 10:58
"I will never vote for (hill) either ..."

21) # Adoregon 2016-05-06 12:54
"... if it comes to Hillary vs. Trump ... NONE OF THE ABOVE"

- well that's it! - scorecard is almost full! - anyone else who is neutral on rump! - at least to the point of not voting hill! - this means you!

- we're still missing who? insipid citizen? marge? merlin? demo? who else?

anyone else? this list will be our tool spotting rump trolls! - go bernie! - in any case, dem!

22) # cymricmorty 2016-05-06 23:16
"... Mr Tally Man, I will never vote for HRC."

- okay! - one day! 22 readers! - signed in blood! - all pissed about coverage supporting hill! at rump's expense! -

while rsn covers lame bernie, reich and warren! rsn misses the facts!

the above list originally posted under the headline -

We Must Do Everything Legally Possible to Prevent Trump From Becoming President, By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Facebook Page, 06 May 16

- apologies to rump trolls who neglected to post on may 6th! - if only because the topic was sooo well smothered by so many other rump trolls!

so wetly our tolerant rump trolls kiss rump's rump!

so i say -

1) bernie, warren and reich have made it perfectly clear that they will do everything in their power to keep rump from office!

2) almost everyone here on rsn claims they support bernie!
-1 # Robbee 2016-06-20 08:29
tally, pt. 4

3) on may 6th, 22 commenters here on rsn drew a bright line and said that, in an effort to keep rump from office that includes voting for hill as prez, they could not cross that line!

4) ergo, in a matter of critical importance to them, and us! - bernie, warren, reich, scott galindez, marc ash, steve weissman, wm. boardman and now, frank rich - cannot count on the support of our gang of 22! - when it comes to rump, our gang of 22 treats them like progressive shit! - their arguments against rump? - like nonsense!

hence, our serene 22 lack solidarity with anyone! - certainly not with each other! - they are serene, deaf, islands of virtue! - beholden only to each self!

like any good conservative, they know that everyone looks out for themselves! - never gives a sucker an even break! - the end justifies the means! - that’s the only way to run a society! - that society governs best, that governs least!

me, i wish more of bernie's self-described "supporters" had the nerve to support bernie on something so important to bernie, warren and reich! - to us all!

he is no great leader! who has no great supporters!

says # davehaze 2016-05-06 15:50
"... Personally I don't want to be responsible for either of them."

there is one - AND ONLY ONE! - way NOT to be PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR RUMP PREZ! - to vote dem! - go bernie, and, in any case, go dem!

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