Why does the US spend more on its military than the next largest several countries combined? One reason is that the military budget has far less to do with protecting the United States than it does to further enriching well-connected military contractors. Politicians are under pressure to push weapons systems, that in turn produce “jobs” for their districts. Remember, the disastrous F-35 fighter is built in 45 states and several foreign countries. This doesn’t happen by accident.
As former Pentagon analyst and keen observer Chuck Spinney points out, when it comes to the military budget, it’s all about enormously expensive, high-tech weapons systems that don’t usually work. Little things like readiness and force strength take a back-seat. High-tech pays off well, with shiny things and bells and whistles impressing those who sign off on big contracts. Actually giving troops useful tools to win wars is much less exciting (and profitable).
Well “Spinney’s rule” has struck again. The USS Gerald R. Ford, supposed to be the Pentagon’s largest and most advanced aircraft carrier, is two years late for delivery, $2.9 billion over budget, and is “not fit for combat.” It is the most expensive warship ever built, coming in at $12.9 billion (so far). But it can’t launch and recover aircraft, can’t mount a defense, and can’t transport bombs around the ship. In other words, the core functions of an aircraft carrier cannot be met by this particular, gold-plated monstrosity.
The Pentagon is hoping that it will be fixed and delivered before this November, but it is probably not wise to hold one’s breath.
Beltway think tanks drive policy toward engaging in more foreign conflicts and in turn they are lavishly funded by the military contractors. Those who object to the massive spending are called “soft on defense.” But spending thirteen billion dollars on a ship that does not work undermines US national security far more than all the antiwar activists put together. The money runs out and we are left holding the bag with a totally useless gold-plated military and the rest of the world angry and seeking revenge over the chaos sown by decades of US interventionism.
Maybe if they hadn’t named the ship after Gerald Ford…?
Daniel McAdams is director of the The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity. Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.