Saturday, February 20, 2016

Was IKE right or wrong?

"As one menace faded into the sunset, another one was rising in the east."

In January of 1961, right before IKE turned the keys over this young incoming President named John Kennedy, he gave a very strange exit speech. He warned the nation of the dangers of the Military Industrial Complex. It was strange to hear a former five star general, a hero of World War II, who used the fruits of our Military Industrial Complex to defeat the Axis Powers, to give such a dire warning.

The nation really wanted to beat its swords into plowshares once the Japanese surrendered. But we could not. As one menace faded into the sunset, another one was rising in the east. Russia, our once ally in defeating the Germans, was now turning into our new nemesis. Yes, the table was being set for the decades long Cold War, and the Military Industrial Complex was going full throttle. 

And it has never stopped. Not during Jimmy Carter. Not during the fall of the Soviet Union. Not during Bill Clinton. And not even during Barack Obama. It has continued to grind out newer, better, faster, and more lethal munitions. One might wonder how this can happen when we have had very dove like Presidents such as Barack Obama. The reason is simple. We have created something called Black Programs. And the funding for these Black Programs is buried so deep in Pentagon budgets, that even the most skilled of auditors have trouble tracking them. 

Oh, I would love to know what is going on in those black programs today. The F-35 Lightening fighter jet once lived under those black programs. No longer. Today, it is in full production. And it is a biggie. Manufactured by Lockheed Martin (a key player in the Military Industrial Complex) this one airplane by itself is going to be quite the cash cow. It is estimated by aviation experts that the F-35 Lightening could stretch over 60 years from cradle to grave. In those 60 years from pre-production, production, upgrades and aftermarket support, the total price tag could be as much as $1.5T. In anyone's book, that is a lot of cheese!

I suppose it is good that the Military Industrial Complex is still alive and kicking. For a while I thought we were building an armada to fight battles from yesterday. Then the Cold War ended. Terrorism arrived, and our warfare became asymmetrical. However, just recently we have seen the Chinese Dragon develop a Blue Water Navy, the Russian Bear acting with aggression like it did during the time of the Soviet Union, North Korea building and testing an "H" Bomb, and Iran trying like crazy to join the nuclear club. 

So I would say this to IKE, if he was still around. Yes sir, I understand your point. In a time of peace, having an out of control, unrestrained Military Industrial Complex would not do the nation any good. However in these days of truculent nation states, many led by Machiavellian leaders, it is good to have a "toy chest" full of the latest and greatest stuff. Our Military Industrial Complex might end up saving the day once again.

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