Exclusive: Behind the U.S. media-political clamor for a new Cold War with Russia is a massive investment by the Military-Industrial Complex in “think tanks” and other propaganda outlets, writes Jonathan Marshall.
By Jonathan Marshall
The U.S. military has won only a single major war since the end of World War II (the Gulf War of 1990-91). But U.S. military contractors continue to win major budget wars in Congress nearly every year, proving that no force on earth can resist their lobbying prowess and political clout.
Consider the steady march to victory of the biggest single weapons program in history — the planned purchase of advanced Lockheed-Martin F-35 jets by the Air Force, Navy, and Marines at a total projected cost of more than $1 trillion.
The Air Force and Marines have both declared the Joint Strike Fighter ready for combat, and Congress is now forking over billions of dollars a year to acquire what is slated to become a fleet of 2,400 jets.
Yet the world’s most expensive fighter bomber still doesn’t work properly and may never perform as advertised. That’s not “dezinformatsiya” from Russian “information warfare” specialists. That’s the official opinion of the Pentagon’s top weapons evaluator, Michael Gilmore.
In an Aug, 9 memo obtained by Bloomberg News, Gilmore warned senior Pentagon officials that the F-35 program “is actually not on a path toward success but instead on a path toward failing to deliver” the aircraft’s promised capabilities. He said the program “is running out of time and money to complete the planned flight testing and implement the required fixes and modifications.”
The military testing czar reported that complex software problems and testing deficiencies “continue to be discovered at a substantial rate.” As a result, the planes may fail to track moving targets on the ground, warn pilots when enemy radar systems spot them, or make use of a newly designed bomb. Even the F-35’s gun may not function properly.
The internal Pentagon assessment was just the latest in a long list of devastating critical assessments and development setbacks for the plane. They include repeated groundings of the plane due to fires and other safety issues; the discovery of dangerous engine instability; and helmets that can cause fatal whiplash. The plane even got soundly beaten in a mock engagement with a much older (and cheaper) F-16.
Last year, an article in the conservative National Review argued that “the biggest threat the U.S. military faces over the next few decades is not the carrier-killing Chinese anti-ship ballistic missile, or the proliferation of inexpensive quiet diesel-electric attack subs, or even Chinese and Russian anti-satellite programs. The biggest threat comes from the F-35 . . . For this trillion-dollar-plus investment we get a plane far slower than a 1970s F-14 Tomcat, a plane with less than half the range of a 40-year-old A-6 Intruder . . . and a plane that had its head handed to it by an F-16 during a recent dogfight competition.”
Likening the F-35 to a previous failed fighter jet program, retired Air Force Colonel Dan Ward observed last year, “Perhaps the truly best scenario for the Joint Strike Fighter is for it to follow in the footsteps of the F-22 and provide a combat capability that is irrelevant to actual military needs. That way, when the whole fleet gets grounded because of an unsolvable flaw, the impact on our defense posture would be nil.”
Lockheed’s “Pay-to-Play Ad Agency”
Coming to the program’s defense most recently was military analyst Dan Goure, in the blog of the respected magazine, The National Interest. Goure belittled critics in the Pentagon’s Operational Test and Evaluation Office as “green eyeshade people, like the goblins at Gringott’s in the Harry Potter series.”
Describing the F-35 as “a revolutionary platform,” he declared, “Its ability to operate undetected in hostile airspace, gathering information and even targeting data on enemy air and ground targets, before launching surprise attacks demonstrates a decisive advantage over existing threat systems. . . . The Joint Strike Fighter test program is making progress at an accelerated rate. More to the point, even before it has completed the rigid performance template laid out by DOT&E, the F-35 has demonstrated capabilities that far exceed any current Western fighter.”
If that reads a bit like a Lockheed-Martin marketing brochure, consider the source. In his article, Goure identified himself only as a vice president of the Lexington Institute, which bills itself as “a nonprofit public-policy research organization headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.”
What Goure didn’t say — and the Lexington Institute doesn’t generally disclose — is that “it receives contributions from defense giants Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and others, which pay Lexington to ‘comment on defense,’” according to a 2010 profile in Politico.
Earlier the same year, Harper’s contributor Ken Silverstein called the widely quoted think tank “the defense industry’s pay-to-play ad agency.” He added, “Outfits like Lexington produce the press conferences, position papers and op-eds that keep military money flowing to defense contractors.”
Goure’s indirect association with Lockheed gives a hint as to why programs like the F-35 continue to thrive despite performance failures, gigantic cost overruns, and schedule delays that would otherwise trigger headline-grabbing congressional investigations and produce streams of indignant rhetoric from Fox News commentators about government failure.
Promoting the New Cold War
Think tanks like the Lexington Institute are prime movers behind the domestic propaganda campaign to revive the Cold War against the diminished Russian state and justify weapons programs like the F-35.
As Lee Fang observed recently in The Intercept, “The escalating anti-Russian rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign comes in the midst of a major push by military contractors to position Moscow as a potent enemy that must be countered with a drastic increase in military spending by NATO countries.”
Thus the Lockheed-funded Aerospace Industries Association warns that the Obama administration is failing to spend enough on “aircraft, ship and ground combat systems” to adequately address “Russian aggression on NATO’s doorstep.” The Lockheed- and Pentagon-funded Center for European Policy Analysis issues a stream of alarmist reports about Russian military threats to Eastern Europe.
And the highly influential Atlantic Council — funded by Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon, the U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force, Marines, and even the Ukrainian World Congress — promotes articles like “Why Peace is Impossible with Putin” and declares that NATO must “commit to greater military spending” to deal with “a revanchist Russia.”
Origins of NATO’s Expansion
The campaign to portray Russia as a menace, led by contractor-funded pundits and analysts, began soon after the Cold War ended. In 1996, Lockheed executive Bruce Jackson founded the U.S. Committee on NATO, whose motto was “Strengthen America, Secure Europe. Defend Values. Expand NATO.”
Its mission ran directly contrary to promises by the George H.W. Bush administration not to expand the Western military alliance eastward after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Joining Jackson were such neo-conservative hawks as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Robert Kagan. One neocon insider called Jackson — who went on to co-found the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq — “the nexus between the defense industry and the neoconservatives. He translates us to them, and them to us.”
The organization’s intense and highly successful lobbying efforts did not go unnoticed. In 1998, the New York Times reported that “American arms manufacturers, who stand to gain billions of dollars in sales of weapons, communication systems and other military equipment if the Senate approves NATO expansion, have made enormous investments in lobbyists and campaign contributions to promote their cause in Washington. . . .
“The four dozen companies whose main business is arms have showered candidates with $32.3 million since the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe at the beginning of the decade. By comparison, the tobacco lobby spent $26.9 million in that same period, 1991 to 1997.”
A spokesman for Lockheed said, ”We’ve taken the long-term approach to NATO expansion, establishing alliances. When the day arrives and those countries are in a position to buy combat aircraft, we certainly intend on being a competitor.”
The lobbying worked. In 1999, against Russian opposition, NATO absorbed the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. In 2004, it added Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Albania and Croatia joined next in 2009. Most provocatively, in 2008 NATO invited Ukraine to join the Western alliance, setting the stage for the dangerous conflict between NATO and Russia over that country today.
The fortunes of American arms makers soared. “By 2014, the twelve new [NATO] members had purchased close to $17 billion worth of American weapons,” according to Andrew Cockburn, “while . . . Romania celebrated the arrival of Eastern Europe’s first $134 million Lockheed Martin Aegis Ashore missile-defense system.”
Last fall, Washington Business Journal reported that “if anyone is benefitting from the unease between Russia and the rest of the world, it would have to be Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT). The company is positioned to make large profits off what could very well be an international military spending spree by Russia’s neighbors.”
Citing a big contract to sell missiles to Poland, the newspaper added, “Officials from Lockheed aren’t explicitly declaring that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s adventurism in Ukraine is good for business, but they aren’t shying away from recognizing the opportunity that Poland is presenting them as Warsaw continues to embark on a massive military modernization project — one that has accelerated as tensions grip Eastern Europe.”
Lockheed’s Lobby Machine
Lockheed continues to pump money into the American political system to ensure that it remains the nation’s largest military contractor. From 2008 to 2015, its lobbying expenditures exceeded $13 million in all but one year. The company sprinkled business from the F-35 program into 46 states and claims that it generates tens of thousands of jobs.
Among the 18 states enjoying a claimed economic impact of more than $100 million from the fighter jet is Vermont — which is why the F-35 gets the support even of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
As he told one town hall meeting, “It employs hundreds of people. It provides a college education for hundreds of people. So for me the question is not whether we have the F-35 or not. It is here. The question for me is whether it is located in Burlington, Vermont or whether it is located in Florida.”
In 1961, President Eisenhower observed that the “conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry” had begun to influence “every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government.”
In his famous farewell address to the nation, Eisenhower warned that “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
How right he was. But not even Ike could have imagined the extravagant costs to the nation of failing to hold that complex at bay — ranging from a trillion-dollar fighter jet program to the needless and far more dangerous resurrection of the Cold War a quarter century after the West achieved victory.
Jonathan Marshall is author or co-author of five books on international affairs, including The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic (Stanford University Press, 2012). Some of his previous articles for Consortiumnews were “Risky Blowback from Russian Sanctions”; “Neocons Want Regime Change in Iran”; “Saudi Cash Wins France’s Favor”; “The Saudis’ Hurt Feelings”; “Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Bluster”; “The US Hand in the Syrian Mess”; and “Hidden Origins of Syria’s Civil War.” ]
As a political scientist, information specialist, engineer-in-training, I predict the presidential election will turn on this issue. When Steven S. Watson, Chevron CEO, says oil and gas and coal are 60% of our energy resources, he’s trying to sell us shares in a dying industry. One hundred years ago, what did most people light their homes with? Whale oil. A small barrel was worth a fortune, but the whaling industry was surpassed with CLEANER, SAFER, EASIER technology. This is a natural progression, and our most vital industry — telecommunications — is no longer dependent upon fossil fuels. Solar powered communications systems and towers and buildings are currently produced by Sabre Industries in Iowa: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3v0FHkW7zE Down with dirty, dangerous and difficult; standing with Dakota Sioux in North Dakota — no more pipelines.
Military assaults against civilian populations are not acts war. They are acts of mass murder, rape and pillage.
Abraham Lincoln raped and murdered the civilian populations of the southern states.
There was no “civil”(nothing civilized) “war”( rape and murder is not war).
Lying, theft, rape and murder is not war. War is when a military force attacks a military force.
Do you have any evidence for that claim of mass rape during the American Civil War, neo-Confederate?
Can you imagine an America with a national health care system, free college tuition, the elimination of poverty, big improvements in renewable energy and far less pollution.
All possible but America spends trillions on killing machines instead. Something is very wrong with America.
All good things b fearn, but first America needs a few leaders. Haven’t seen one of those in a long time, have you? Seriously, we need some people who will do what’s right for the commons, and not be servants to the rich lobbyists. People are critical of Hillary and Bill with their pay to play, as rightfully they should be upset, but all of the DC politicos are doing some kind of pay for play, and that’s just not right. Americans demand they want their country back, but first they should discover where it went in the first place….follow the money, and you will find where your country went. Good comments b fearn JT
several years ago, a television broadcast detailed a town in kentucky which is entirely dependent upon a military base for its economic survival. close the base, the town disappears. with 4,000 domestic bases, many more towns are probably, at least in part, reliant on the u.s. military as an economic model.
then there’s the spread of arms manufacture locations to as many states as possible, thereby capturing the house & senate with the promise of jobs. 46 states manufacture parts for the f-35. moreover, arms manufactures produce product that the defense department neither wants nor needs, but congress demands the pentagon accept. products & policies of destruction are the result of a nation that has been at war for 93% of her existence.
america is the world leader in the export of arms & garbage – and war. a dubious distinction that is unlikely to change any time soon. the politics of peace and a less materialistic mindset are not on the table. even the poor of our nation are an acquisitive people. and who can blame them? our society is based on what you have not who you are. the poor are also recruited to fight the permawars, as options for well-paying jobs are non-existent. a federal minimum wage set at $7.25-an-hour encourages poverty which encourages both urban blight and crime; as well, a loss in tax revenue.
america is a neo-colonial empire. no tributes come in; the people’s wealth goes out. empires go extinct; that’s what empires do.
we are at a crossroads. the east is rising and the west, declining. we can continue to bankrupt ourselves financially & morally or take the road less traveled by.
and as robert frost kinda sorta said, that will make all the difference.
Lawrence, everything you mentioned with your comment is spot on. What America needs is a revamping of it’s national and international priorities. Instead of all the time waging war, the U.S. could be selling it’s entertainment industry product. The U.S. instead of hiring machine shops, and supply vendors, for military weapons and equipment, could be busy manufacturing and shipping all over the world product of every type. Possibly make environmental products, and instead of ruining the planet help save it. Since I believe our military should be strictly defensive, I don’t have a problem keeping military bases where they presently are. In the case of small towns losing all revenue due to the closing of a base, if all of what I have mentioned here were to be promoted correctly, it won’t take but a decision by someone to install a new industry in these small towns. Creative minds can often do marvelous things, if given the chance. When will we learn that?
So why don’t we hear about any of this on our news stations? Next time you see an advertisement on your TV for Northrop-Grumman Chip Technology or Drones, Boeing Fighters or Drones, GE “bringing good things to life”, or other Lockheed Garbage (but never the F-35), the answer will be clear. John Q. Public can’t buy a single drone, as advertised on MSNBC, but they run these ads anyway. And that is why Rachel no longer is anti-war and has become a cheerleader for a WAR CRIMINAL.
Why do you think she kept her job after Phil Donahue and Keith Olbermann were canned? She agreed to become a mouthpiece for the corporate state.
Ah yes, the authoritative and Bush-connected Politico. I stop reading articles on Common Dreams when they lean on Politico. I will do the same here.
The vision is clear, rampant unregulated free-market capitalism is the soulless force which devours reason along with any needed “materials”, detritus is the product when the move to new killing fields is made. Those poor humans who are left to deal with the impact of this style of capitalism are not included in the profit equations.
Now we see that war and elections in the U.S. have been completely turned into profit centers for the predators who purchase the legal means which enable the blood feast. It is not that a result of any significance is required, positive or negative the product is advanced, driven by the fact that the only raison d’etre of these globalized corporations (and any corporation as a rule) is that a profit is made, be it at the cost of a nation, a people, or perhaps our civilization.
Bernie Sanders Betrayal:
Over 6,500 people in his hometown area of Burlington, VT, will be negatively affected by the F35 basing, and close to 4,000 homes will be made “unsuitable for residential use” by the intense noise impact, costing homeowners millions of dollars of property value.
What’s ALSO horrible about the planned F35 basing? 1,500 thousand Vermont infants and children will be exposed to the noise, and 750 may suffer cognitive learning disabilities.
Not only that, but according to the USAF, Burlington was the ONLY base under consideration for the F35s that will SUFFER economically from property value loss. What politician in his right mind would seeks such economic and health damage to his constituency?
Although Bernie TRIES to justify the insanely inappropriate basing decision by saying, “It employs hundreds of people. It provides a college education for hundreds of people”, it will not be just compensation to those communities who not only lose their prosperity and economic future but whose children’s educational abilities may be seriously impaired by his support of the F35s basing in Vermont’s residential communities. Where’s Bernie’s concern about THEIR college education opportunities?
Yet all this profound negative impact to thousands of Vermonters doesn’t bother Bernie one bit as he repeats his mantra of “jobs”, even as the curtain behind him slips and we see who is really behind the controls. Hope your embrace of the “Bernie Bomber” keeps you warm at night, Bernie, because your hypocrisy and sell-out to the F35s have revealed just what kind of person you are at heart under all your feel-good, man of the people facade. Shame on you, Bernie for your lies and for betraying our trust in you.
“Fight for Truth”, regarding Senator Sanders’ pimping for the Defense Department in his home state, missed in the run in the Democratic primaries where Senator Sanders was cheated out of honest tallies from the Redwood Forests of California to the New York Isle and states in between, the Senator was silent about the Defense Department’s sucking tax payers’ money into the black hole of missing money, into the trillions of dollars missing in action on their books that haven’t balanced for decades with fiction writers attempting to black line red. Concerning the deeply diapered, much asleep and mentally fading “winner” Mrs. Clinton, by Sanders’ silence, he affirmed the Ex-Secretary of State’s affirmation of the U.S.A. as an exceptional nation state that can do as it pleases joined by monopoly media:The New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC, AP, CBS, FOX, NBC and other live wires well seeded with clandestine service operatives there, as the owners continue past practices going back to the end of World War II, promoting the international capitalist conspiracy. With an honest accounting of where the individual tax payers assessments are placed after I.R.S. collections for the Treasury Department, you would find over half going to the for profit war industry, of which Senator Sanders is a strong supporter.
Disenfranchisement, embezzlement, myopia, a criminal sense of entitlement, unrestrained selfishness, Mockingbird, and twisted prioritization….Mr. Baker, sir, you cover so much ground so well and so succinctly, I have to tip my hat.
This is why we need the “Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Economic and Energy Conversion Act” now in US Congress for the 12th time. See http://prop1.org and click on the “Roots Action” link in the first paragraph.
The new Ford-class carriers are another money pit.
The first ship can’t reliably launch airplanes, can’t safely retrieve them, and has defective radar. Among all the other issues.
Regarding the F-35, it’s such a train wreck that talk of restarting F-22 production just won’t go away. That airplane is horribly expensive too, costs an arm and a leg to operate, and still has some other issues, but despite all that it looks mighty good compared to the F-35.
USA citizens are invested financially in USA arms makers. Why ?
The system of financial wealth extraction is executed by the means of providing government funding, via taxation of the plebes and tax exemptions to global corporations, to private for profit corporations which are allowed to have undefined terms regarding the contracts they enter into with the government provisionally to provide weapons systems for wars that are marketed by these same corporations as opportunities for profit.
Democracy as it is marketed to the “consumers” of the U.S. is defined by profit. If you aren’t in on the gig, you are certainly paying for it.
Is it because most are members of an ill educated, mind controlled herd of MORONS? Or is it because most americans are self-absorbed, self-centered; to a degree that precludes any ability to see through the controlled mass media obfuscation and make critical decisions on issues. The ill-informed, are easily lead by the nose. An uneducated citizenry is nothing more than a mob ripe for manipulation.
The cleverness of the REAL HANDS behind power in America is that they knew how to make war a “WAY OF LIFE” for many Americans…………….Can you imagine how many Americans make their daily living by working directly or indirectly for the war machine……….Just look at the following:
– The Pentagon has over 3 millions work directly for it.
– How many weapons manufacturers are there and how many they employ?
– How many sub-contractors work for the weapons manufacturers?
– How many Private Defense Contractors exist?
– How many security companies are there (fear demands security and security is part of the military machine)?
– Count all the think tanks and other propaganda machine promoting war……..
Oil is moving West and Weapons are moving in every direction……….The MOST successful business in America is………….WAR. Too bad that the losers are MOST AMERICANS…………
The problem with an empire that cuts itself off from distributed intelligence? It begins to believe the approved reality and does a pirouette to the Pacific while tearing things up in the Middle East and Africa.
Meanwhile, the lender, China, lays rails on the old spice trails. From the Pacific to the Atlantic, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf.
Diminished Russian State? Mother Russia no longer pays the bills for all those nations ending in in stan, all of them are friendly with Russia, Iran and China.
Here are links to railroad news and etc
The irrelevance of hard machinery from boondoggled F-35’s to the newest aircraft carriers is masked under a continuing and broadening tissue of deception and lies such as “Russia’s adventurism in Ukraine” and today’s Russia is hacking the country’s electoral processes . . . This is why we honor Orwell’s foresight: “War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength.”
Ike may have been as reluctant a President as we had ever had, preferring to put off and often avoid the most difficult of decisions. But he totally understood war, the horror and insanity of it. Given his experience as the Allied Commander in Europe in WWII, he got war. And his time in the White House made him very aware of the growth and power of the Military establishment and of the arms manufacturers, how their influence (i.e $$$) was swaying governance. He could see it was already out of hand and tried to warm us to rein in it in way back in 1961.
But it may have already been to late, as all the “Communist Threat” rhetoric, both real and imagined, had taken hold and the military had been deemed our only hope from Communist take over.
And now, the dire warning has come to fruition. The Military Industrial Complex rules. To keep making it’s billions, to satisfy it’s shareholders and keep from laying off hundreds of thousands of workers, we need to push for more and better arms and more arms sales, and yes, disgustingly, more war.
Notice the soft dates of 1961, 1988, etc. given – NO ONE against war/wars GIVES A DAMN!
It’s the oligarchy that pressures for such wanton waste!
Indict & Impeach from potus and all around – get the $$$ out of congress.
No more war
Perpetual war…it’s a great business opportunity!
Along with the now recognized fact that in the U.S. perpetual elections, just like war, are too good a profit center for those in the business of electioneering. There is now no down time between elections, just like an undefined war against an amorphous foe, conflict is sold as entertainment and the political process is now another means by which the “consumer/citizen” is to be milked $$.
Below is a link to a June 26, 2016 Inspector General for the Department of Defense report, which states in it’s finding that the DOD cannot account for a missing 6.5 trillion dollars.
Only a country gone mad with defense spending could have this happen. To many lobbyists, and far too much American tax dollars to play with, for an industry who has lost all respect for human life, all because of profit over humanity. A salesman with bullets to sell will always be able to point out to a buyer all the bad guys who may harm the potential weapon buyer. Fear works wonders for the arms industry, and our news media does a fantastic job of promoting that fear. The reaction to that fear, is a heavy price to pay in order to be the Greatest Nation on Earth. Shut down this industry, and it’s lobbyists, and watch the false flags, the preemptive war, and all of the human destruction disappear.
Russia with it’s defensive strategy only should be a model for other countries defensive systems. America’s global structure is ruining all life on earth, and that is what must change.
I’m leaving a link below, and it concerns the use of Private Military Contractors. Three fourths of the way down into the article it mentions how these PMC hires are being used, and how often they escape all accountably. Let’s just say, the PMC does a lot of mission creep operations.
What saddens me most about what is happening to our beloved country, is that so far within this new 21st century America has been totally transformed into a war state. What’s even worst, is I don’t see anything nearby which will change this sickening trend. If there is to be a great wake up call catastrophe I only hope it crushes the evil doers, and saves the innocent masses.
Interesting article. War is a dirty and obscene “business” and NATO is its taxpayer funded “hit men” See links below for more info.