Sunday, May 1, 2011

Part 2 - Most Serious Military Campaign in US History

Recap From Part One of This Series

In part one of this two part series, MeanMesa took a look at the recent changes in the national security structure.  Although it is not particularly unusual for a President to reorganize a few things as he moves into the election campaign for his second term, the changes we note in this instance may have an even more important meaning than usual.

Do we think that the Petraeus/Panetta relocations mean something more than a simple political adjustment designed to take a couple of "news cycles?"

Yes.  In fact, the "something more" we mentioned above may, actually, amount to a "great deal more."  Let's begin with a very short recap of the conditions Panetta will encounter on his first day at his new office.

Defense Department
Defense, Expense and No Common Sense

The fundamental mission of the nation's defense establishment has, long ago, been severely contaminated by a predictable and -- for those of who can remember "Ike" Eisenhower -- also "predicted" deflection into a state which has had consistently less to do with defense and more to do with "looting" and wealth redistribution.  The American war making machine now finds itself primarily a business venture which, by the way, carries out military missions as a sideline.
Don't be mistaken.  The "defense industry" is a great business opportunity.  

Enjoying a half $Trillion dollar annual budget, the Defense Department has attracted "business leaders" the same way neglected mayonnaise at a hot, summer picnic attracts salmonella.  Once the initial "infection" is first accomplished, things are destined to only grow worse, never better.  

The cycle is not particularly mysterious, either.  The weapons merchants, just like the pharmaceutical crooks and the petroleum frauds, have long ago discovered that investments in "campaign contributions" have a far more lucrative "return on investment" than any foolish, "bad business model" ideas about the good of the country.

So far, things have worked out "roses, simply roses" for these "captains of industry" who have been working so hard to keep our country safe.  In the past, after capitalist thugs, always under the cover of US national foreign policy, have managed to rape, pillage and plunder some defenseless population somewhere, our country always seems to "wind up" with another "incomprehensible" enemy.

No one, absolutely no one, can understand why such folks hate us so much or exactly why this seems to simply "keep happening to us."

Oh well, nothing to do but increase our own weapons stock pile and get ready for another "oil war."  In the meantime, an extremely accommodating domestic media just "happens" to pump every American voter who will listen full of both outrage and fear.  The next step for the weapons merchants is to instruct their Congressmen to purchase another round of expensive additions to what is already a massive junk pile of equipment designed for the last war.

The "State of Affairs" in the Defense Department

Panetta will find all of this and more.  Not only are the arms merchants "ready to go," but standing between them and the new Secretary will be a coven of Congressional toadies equally ready to lay hands on more of the half $Trillion per year prize.  Even worse, all through the Pentagon are even more well lubricated lackeys, constantly prepped to promote the "absolute, immediate necessity" of the latest $10 Million dollar truck.

All these endless "procurement requirements" are littered with cost over runs, design changes and plenty of profit.  No matter how awful the design, development and manufacturing scheme might be, once these monstrosities are anchored with some sort of six digit "initial payment," they become, aside from their role as "military albatrosses," invulnerable to "program termination."

The characters inhabiting this alternate world facing Panetta have their own scheme for perpetual durability.  They begin as military men, become staffers or Congressmen, retire or lose an election and turn into invulnerable lobbyists for the weapons merchants.  Exaggerated?  Not really.  It's hard to find  so much as a single face in the system which does not occupy one stage or another of this cycle of metamorphosis.

In many cases, not even the Pentagon wants some of this stuff.

However, contract termination will cost jobs in the constituent states of the Congressmen.  These contracts began their life as pork, but after they have set their roots into the rich, job starved soil of a "home state," they are soon plated with local gold, sold in the Congress as worth their weight in silver and hosted in the minds of the residents as an employment "life blood."

As far the tax payers are concerned, these "procurements" may as well be built of pot metal.

Does MeanMesa think that the military should be starved?  Denied whatever might be necessary for war making?

Absolutely not.  However, what we see now -- and what Panetta will face -- has much more to do with this looting scheme than it does with national security.  It doesn't take much imagination to see that the results of such "military procurement" has left only a hyper expensive, poorly equipped force which must spend $50,000,000 ($50 Million) to kill a single Taliban., etc.)

This amazingly high combat "effectivity price" isn't all new, either.  During the two decades of the Viet Nam war, the cost of killing a single opponent cost around $70,000.  That war cost an average of a $1 Million dollars a minute for almost twenty years.  Every minute.

Osama bin Laden and others like him discovered this "weak spot" in Western militaries during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  They didn't miss the lesson.  While an opposing army cannot be defeated in direct assaults configured to attain a military victory, the combat goals can be adjusted away from the traditional goal of simply winning.  The cost of combat can be increased when the goal of increasing cost replaces the goal of a combat victory.

Much like the Soviets, the US defense management "missed" this message.  Even when combat costs were exploding beyond a sustainable level, we simply continued to increase costs, pouring more and more money into our fixation on a military combat victory.

Further, if the procurement outrage isn't egregious enough, the cost of world wide military bases can be added to the pile.  Just like the procurement contracts, these Cold War colonial carry overs have their own benefactors and, hence, protectors.  At any moment when even the slightest hint at any alternate course emerges, the domestic media flood voters with another "terror message."

I.E. - "Them Aaarabs gonna' cum over heah and git the whaht wimmen!"

We see a costly "image mix" between the geo-political necessities of a Defense Department and an immense, dated, unimaginative, ineffective foreign policy looting scheme and budget drain.  Mortally costly.

Nothing, Absolutely Nothing, Can Be Done

Although the corporate media has worked very hard to establish this false certainty in the minds of American voters, this exact sort of challenge seems to be one of Obama's favorites.  We've seen this unfold repeatedly with health care, Wall Street regulation and efforts for the economic recovery.

MeanMesa suspects that we are now seeing the latest addition to that impressive list of accomplishments.  It has been kept very quiet, but the silent movement of Earth below our feet has, with these new personnel moves, made its first rumbling.

Obama intends to cut defense spending.  Further, he intends to cut defense spending much more than a few hundred billion here and there.

The media toadies, in their relentless effort to resurrect some vestige of validity in the GOPCon position, have constantly referred to government spending divided into three elements:
discretionary spending
"entitlement" spending, and
military spending

Of course, grisly manifestations of the most recent looting scheme, i.e. the  Ryan "make every American who doesn't have a lobbyist bleed" budget, targets the discretionary spending.  The "fear mongering" back up threat to  further expand the "bleeding" is to cut "entitlement" spending.  The President has already drawn his line in the sand on both of these cynical GOPCon ambitions.

It's no coincidence that not so much as a single word about cutting military spending has escaped this latest media "thought instruction" death trap.

With Petraeus heading the CIA, Obama has introduced the existential possibility of reducing the $50 Million dollar price tag for a dead Taliban. or any other insurgent.  With Panetta heading the Defense Department, Obama has introduced a similar possibility of combating the financial train wreck the national security scheme has become.

To his credit, the retiring DoD head, Gates, cut a respectable swath of useless military spending during his tenure, especially in the case of a $300 Billion dollar jet fighter program.  There can be no question but that the President was firmly standing behind this effort.  However, the scope of Panetta's "marching orders" will range far beyond even this sort of massive reduction.

Obama's new target for making sense from the current "nation eating defense budget" will go much farther.  Of course, doing this sensibly will be an essentially military effort, but the political side -- not the military side -- to the task has always proved to be its undoing in the past.

Naturally, the tactical advantage of having "seasoned troops" on the front line has not been missed by the President, except that the "seasoning" of those "seasoned troops" has finally been correctly established as a "political seasoning," not a "military seasoning."  Panetta's "political seasoning" is formidable.

Let's wish the President "good hunting," supporting him in every possible way -- especially in his campaign to be re-elected.  

These days hold no comfort for the timid.

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