Only if you believe in scary fairy tales
Security through domestic surveillance?
Only if you believe in scary fairy tales
An insatiable, deadly monster
Leaves lifeless bodies in its wake
Never gets enough, always wants more
Will it eventually devour itself
like the condemned king in Ovid’s tale
and everyone else?
This writer, an organizational psychologist turned political psychologist in retirement is addicted to writing about and writhing over the imperialistic, militaristic, failing state of America, and that being the case, is now embarking on a long journalistic journey of writing more about her corpocracy, the Devil’s marriage between large corporations and “our” government. This article, part of a trilogy, gives an overview of America ’s military-national security, industrial, political triumvirate, the most costly, destructive, and deadly member of the corpocracy. This article begins that journey. The second and third parts, yet to be written, examine the state of this triumvirate’s opposition and propose creation of a “peace triumvirate” to wage a peaceful and lawful campaign of reforms to topple the monster.
From the very beginning America has been militarily strong and active. Today, that strength is the greatest of all nations’ military combined and has been for a long rime. Today, America has the largest national security program of any nation, making Russia ‘s vaunted KGB small by comparison. More Americans are now watched around the clock than ever before.
The price tag for all this strength and surveillance is huge. We are talking trillions of dollars, eight of them since “9/11;” one of those eight just for FY 2013. Overall, the U.S. military-national security expenses amount to one-half of all worldwide expenditures and one-half of the federal government’s discretionary budget. Note the adjective, “discretionary.” The government with industry prodding chooses to do and spend what it does.
What does all that might and money get America?
Does America get peace?
America has never gotten peace through all her military strength. Over 300 (and counting) military interventions around the globe have been conducted by the U.S. for profit and power since our nation was founded. From the outset, military strength has always slammed the door shut on peace.
Does America get national security?
While America had some domestic surveillance before “9/11,” with so much more money, so many more domestic spies, so much more spying since then, America today resembles a police state. But the threat of terror, real or imagined, from enemies created by the triumvirate still exists.
Who does benefit?
It is the corpocracy, and particularly this triumvirate, not the American people that benefit. The military, the federal domestic security agencies, the military-national security industry, and politicians all the way up to the top, the warrior-in-chief are the sole beneficiaries, hands down.
Who doesn’t benefit?
For starters, there are several million human beings (and counting) sent to their graves as a direct result of those 300 some military interventions. Then, there are Americans’ civil liberties. Then, there are America ’s goodwill and moral standing in the world. Then there’s America ’s moral fiber at home. Then, to use a fancy phrase there are the lost opportunities at home. Imagine what America could be today if much of that eight trillion dollars had been spent instead to help ensure that every American has an adequate standard of living that is the right of every human being in a civilized society; to help develop her youth, the future of America; to provide affordable and quality health care to everyone; and to help preserve the balance between human activities and nature. Clearly, in both the short and long term, America suffers because of the corpocracy’s military-national security, industrial, political triumvirate.
The military-national security part of the triumvirate
The visible elements
Military arm of the Department of Defense: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Over two million active duty and reserve.
Civilian arm of the Department of Defense, National Security Agency, CIA.
Department of Homeland Security. The latter, the newest, has grown exponentially to become the third largest federal bureaucracy after the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. More than 200,000 employees in this part of the government.
Department of Energy (National Nuclear Safety Administration). Approximately 3,000 federal employees and 30,000 contract employees.
The “black hole” elements
The industrial part of the triumvirate
Thousands of organizations and individuals, from the largest military contractors (corporations) to the smallest entrepreneurs make and sell products and services to the military-national security part of the triumvirate, to each other (e.g., smaller business suppliers to larger business suppliers), and to foreign nations. Some makers and sellers do business in other industrial sectors as well. The Lockheed Martin Corporation is a perfect example.
Makers and sellers of deadly products and services used in military interventions are sometimes referred to as “merchants of death.” More than one million people work in the war/snoop industry.
What follows are some long lists taking up a lot of space, but they are necessary. They identify potential targets of any corporate reform efforts.
The top 100 defense contractors1
Acutronic Accenture Ltd. Action TargetAdvatech Pacific, Inc Aerojet Aerospace CorporationAerovironment Advanced Armament Corporation (AAC) Advanced Integrated Systems AECOMAegis Defense Services Aimpoint AirScan Airtronic USA Aivea Corporation Allen Vanguard Alliant Techsystems Allied Container Systems AM General Corporation American Dynamics Flight SystemsAmerican Ordnance LL CAmerican Petroleum Institute Analysis, Computing & Engineering Solutions, Inc. (ACES, Inc.) Antonov Airlines Applied Research Associates Inc. Arcturus-UAVARINC Argon ST ArmorSource ArmorWorks Artis LLC ASSETT, Inc. Astronautics Corporation of America Aurora Flight Sciences AV-Optimal Defense Consultancy Service AVX Aircraft CompanyBAE Systems plc BAE Systems Inc. BAE Systems Land and Armaments BAE Systems Electronics, Intelligence & Support Land Systems OMC Ball Corporation Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Battelle Memorial Institute Bechtel Corporation Benelli USABerico Technologies BDM Corporation Blazeware Inc. Black Knight Technology Inc. Boeing Company* Boeing Sikorsky Comanche Team Boeing SVS McDonnell Douglas Insitu Booz Allen Hamilton Boston Dynamics British Nuclear Fuels Limited Brogden Enterprises, Inc. CACI International Inc.Carlyle Group Carnegie Mellon University Ceradyne Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Chenega Federal Systems CNA Corporation Colt DefenseConcurrent Technologies Corporation Critical Solutions International Crye Associates CSA Engineering CSI Combined Systems Computer Sciences Corporation* Cubic Corporation Omega Training Group Decibel Research Inc. Defense Technologies Inc. Delta Intelligence & Security DEW Engineering Digital System Resources Inc. Dillon Aero DRS Technologies DynCorp Dynetics, Inc EADS EADS North America Exnovo Solutions, Inc.Eurocopter American Eurocopter Airbus Earth Class MailEast/West Industries, Inc. Ensign-Bickford Aerospace and Defense Edison Welding Elbit SystemsInstitute M7 Aerospace ENSCO, Inc. Environmental Tectonics Corporation Ernst & YoungEvergreen International Aviation Exxon Corporation Fabbrica d’Armi Pietro Beretta Fabrique Nationale de Herstal FLIR Systems Fluor Corp. FGM Inc F M C Technologies Force Protection IncFoster-Miller, Inc. Foster Wheeler Ltd. Foundation Health Systems Inc. G4S plc Armour Group IncGB Industrial Battery Gemini Industries Inc. General Atomics General Dynamics* GulfstreamMOWAG General Dynamics Electric Boat Bath Iron Works General Electric Military Jet Engines Division* Geo-Centers Inc. Glock Ges.m.b.H. Goodrich Corporation* Gordon and Castille IndustriesGeorgia Tech Research Institute Harris Corporation Halliburton Corporation Health Net, Inc.Heckler & Koch USA HESCO USA Hewlett-Packard* Honeywell* HS Produkt Humana Inc. Hybricon Corporation IBM Industrial Machining & Design Services, Inc. Infotech Aerospace Services (a Pratt & Whitney joint venture) Insight Technology Institute for Defense AnalysesIntelsat International Resources Group iRobot Israeli Aerospace Industries Israeli Military Industries ITT Exelis ITT Research Institute Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. JGB Enterprises, Inc. Johns Hopkins University Kaman Aircraft Kearfott Corporation Kellogg, Brown and Root Knight’s Armament Company Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc*.SYColeman Brashear EOTech Lockheed Martin* Gyrocam Systems Longbow Limited Liability Inc.LRAD Corporation M9 Defense SystemsMacGregor Group (part of Cargotec corporation) A.P. Moller-Maersk Group ManTech International* Massachusetts Institute of Technology Maytag Aircraft Corporation MBDA McQ Inc Menatek Spare Parts Metal Storm Milkor USA Mission Essential Personne MITRE Corporation; also see ANSER Institute for Homeland SecurityMitsubishi Motorola Inc. Mustang Tech Group Natel Electronic Manufacturing Services Navistar Defense Nextel NexGen Data Systems, inc. Nichols Research Corporation NITTOH KENSETSU CO, LTD. NorthropGrumman Corporation* Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems Northrop Grumman Information Technologies Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Northrop Grumman Mission Systems Northrop Grumman Newport News Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Northrop Grumman Space TechnologyNorthrop Grumman Technical Services Ocean Shipholdings Inc Oceaneering International Olin Corporation; John M. OlinandJohn M. Olin Foundation Orbital Sciences CorporationOshkosh Corporation* Osterhout Design Group; Ralph Osterhout OT Training SolutionsPara-Ordnance Perot Systems Picatinny Arsenal Pinnacle Armor Point Blank Solutions, Inc.Precision Castparts Corporation Quantum3D QinetiQ North America Raytheon* BBN Technologies JPS Communications ELCAN Sighting Systems Remington Arms Revision EyewearRock Island Arsenal Rockwell Collins* Rolls-Royce plc RONCO Horn of Africa Saab AB SBG Technology Solutions Science Applications International Corporation*Sensis Corporation Shell Oil Company Siemens AG SimplexGrinnell, LP SFA, Inc. SGISSmartronix, Inc. SmartRounds Smith & Wesson Sobran, inc SPARTA, Inc. SpotterRF Springfield Armory SRC Inc SRI International ST Engineering ST Kinetics Sumaria System Vision Technologies Systems Stanley, Inc. Standard Missile Company LLC Stevedoring Services of America Stewart and Stevenson Strum, Ruger & Company Incorporated Subsystem Technologies Incorporated Sverdrup Corporation Swiss ArmsSIG Sauer Talla-Tech Tangent Networks LLC Forjas Taurus S/A TComTeledyne Telent Texas Instruments Textron Inc.* Bell Helicopter Textron United Industrial Corporation AAI Corporation The Columbia Group Trijicon Tri-Star Engineering, Inc. TriWest Healthcare Alliance Tyco International Ltd. ADT Security Services University of Texas SystemUnisys Corporation United Technologies* Sikorsky Pratt & Whitney* URS Corporation* Washington Group International USmax Corporation US Falcon US Ordnance Vangent Velocity SystemsVerizon Communications Vinnell Corporation Vinnell-Brown & Root Westinghouse Electric Corporation Wiley X Worldcorp Inc. Wyvern Technologies, Aerospace & Defense Contractors Academi LLC (formerly Blackwater and Xe Services) York Executive Operations.
Private military contractors2
AirScan Academi XeBlackwater Boughton Protection Services/BPS Custer Battles DynCorp GK Sierra Global Enforce Inc. Hambright Protection Services TT Corporation JaneGroup Inc Jorge Scientific Corporation KBR MPRI, Inc. The Intelligence Group International Laconia Consulting Group MVM, Inc. Northrop Grumman Obelisk, International LLC Pathfinder Security Services PinPoint Security Group Raytheon Red Star Aviation RRISC MANAGEMENT. Raptor Defense Saber Teams LLC. Titan Corporation Titan Corporation Versar, Inc Vinnell Corporation Wes-Intel Xeros Services Grey Feather Solutions
Uncle Sam’s war/snoop shopping list and “malls”3
Uncle Sam, if you want it or dream it up, we got it or can make it—
Accounting Administrative Support Advertising and Marketing & Public Relations Air Purification & Air Conditioning Aircraft and Aircraft support Cemetery Memorial Dealers Commercial Food Service Equipment Communication & Media: Other Telecommunications Communication & Media: Telecommunication Communication & Media: Wireless Communication Computer SoftwareComputer Technology: Data Storage Computer Technology: Hosting and Related Services Computer Technology: Programming Consulting Services Consumer Products Contractor Materials & ServicesCosmetics Counseling/Therapy Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Education & TrainingEngineering/Design/Architecture Entertainment and Exercise & Recreation Environment & Consulting Equipment Rental Fabrication & Construction Food & Beverage: Catering Food & Beverage: Other Food/Beverage Appliances and Equipment Furniture: Stores Furniture: Stores Supplies and Products Gifts and Memorabilia Granite Ground Maintenance Hand Tools, Clean Room Hardware Supplies Human Resources and Executive Search Consulting Services Hydraulic Equipment Industrial Equipment & Products Information Technology Janitorial Services Legal Services Lighting Lodging & Accommodation: Hotels/Motels Management Services Materials: Chemical Materials Materials: Metal Manufacturing Medical Supplies Office Equipment & SuppliesOil and Gas & Fuels Industries Optics Packaging & Paper Products Paint and Coating & AdhesivesPest Control Plastic Products Printing & Publication Professional and Commercial Equipment Real Estate Repair and Maintenance Research & Development Safety & Security Science Equipment & Laboratory Shelter Systems Ship and Boat Building Signs Sporting and Athletic Goods Manufacturing Transportation & Delivery Utilities Vehicles: Automotive Vehicles: Trucks Waste Management: Hazardous Material Waste Management: Other Water Features Weapon Windows & Awnings.
–but Too Often Not Very Well
Uncle Sam’s chief DoD buyer isn’t too happy but what can he do? He can’t leave in disgust and become chief peace buyer, ain’t no such job. The Pentagon’s weapon procurement woes are well known. They are mentioned in countless speeches and blue-ribbon studies, but never successfully tackled, says the Defense Department’s acting acquisitions chief, Frank Kendall. He goes on to say that “A combination of an entrenched culture, management incompetence and bad contractor performance has snowballed over the past decades into an avalanche of embarrassing program failures. We start things we shouldn’t have started–it’s not clear that [the weapons we order and buy] produce any valuable outcomes.”4 Just what are “valuable outcomes,” Mr. Under Secretary?
The political part of the triumvirate
Warrior-in-chief; political appointees overseeing the military-national security part; Congress; and State and local officials in jurisdictions doing business with the military-national security part.
Congress, the Industry’s Excessively Generous Pawn and Patron
Gift Wrapped in Committees for the Industry
Senate Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations Senate Subcommittee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Senate Committee on Armed Services (six subcommittees) Senate Committee on the Budget Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (six relevant subcommittees) Senate Subcommittee on Energy Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Senate Committee on Finance (two relevant subcommittees) Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (seven subcommittees) Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs (five subcommittees) Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (three subcommittees) House Subcommittee on Homeland Security Appropriations House Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations House Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations House Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Appropriations House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations House Committee on Armed Services (nine subcommittees) House Committee on Budget House Committee on Energy and Commerce (three relevant subcommittees) House Committee on Foreign Affairs (seven subcommittees) House Committee on Homeland Security (six subcommittees) House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (five subcommittees) Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation House Subcommittee on Small Business Contracting and the Workforce House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (two relevant subcommittees) House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (four subcommittees) House Committee on Ways and Means (oversight committee)
How the industry dictates to Uncle Sam
The industry, not the American people at large, tells “their” government what its annual military-national security budget should be, what its purchases should be, for what purposes, and how much they should cost, and what minimal legislation and oversight would be acceptable. The industry exercises this stranglehold in several ways.
The industry gets its pawns and patrons elected
The industry donated over $24 million during 2011-2012 in campaign contributions. The main focus is always to ensure that members of Congressional committees important to the industry get reelected.
The industry strategically locates its facilities
The industry’s lifeline and profit bonanza comes from contracts awarded by influential and courted members of Congress. Locating facilities in their Congressional districts and States helps ensure that contracts will be steered to them. Few things make a member of Congress more anxious than the prospect of a facility moving out or a member more pleased than a facility moving in.
The industry sends touts up Capital Hill
Winston Churchill called lobbyists touts. The industrial sector in 2011 spent over $133 million to send about 1,000 touts up Capital Hill to cash in on all those campaign financing bribes from the sector by telling their elected officials to keep boosting the federal budget for the sector, what and how to legislate and regulate the sector’s business, and to peddle its products and supplies. Trade associations are clusters of touts concentrating on a particular kind of military-national security business and thus represent not one but all of the corporations in that business. These associations include the Aerospace Industries Association, Armed Forces Communications Electronics Association, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems, International National Defense Industrial Association, and the Submarine Industrial Base Council.
The industry comes and goes through the revolving door
Now you see them here. Now you see them there. Who are they and where are they coming and going? They don’t stay put like the career bureaucrats do. They are the self-serving shufflers shuffling back and forth through the so-called, perfectly named “revolving door.” To author and activist Jim Hightower these shufflers are among the “thieves in high places, steadily and quietly pilfering” the essence of our democracy.”5
There are actually four kinds of revolving doors. One is for industry executives and lobbyists who go through to appointments in key government posts to ensure industry interests aren’t denied by the American people. A current example is that of Ann Elise Sauer, a former executive and lobbyist for the top defense contractor, Lockheed Martin. She has been appointed to one of the most powerful posts in Congress that oversees the defense industry, including major weapons systems that are a mainstay of Lockheed’s business.6
There’s the government-to-industry door through which public officials, having gotten experience and valuable contacts from the inside in keeping public interests at bay, go to the industry and parlay their experience and contacts into furthering industry interests in exchanges, usually in private, with the government.
And finally, there’s the government-to-lobbyist door through which former legislators, their staffs, and executive-branch officials pass on the way to lucrative positions in lobbying firms to lobby their former colleagues. According to a recent report, “the best lobbying firms are headed by former members of Congress and staffed by former staffers from the Hill and regulatory agencies—and can have significant influence over the legislative process since they’ll be lobbying their friends and former colleagues, many of whom will be angling for lobbying jobs in the future.”7
Besides the revolving doors there are the “archways,” the clever metaphor author Naomi Klein uses for the passage of people who used to occupy top posts in the government, left for lucrative positions in the industrial world, then left it but stopped short of going through the revolving door.8 Instead they remain outside as influential advisors to top government officials and in so doing avoid conflict of interest rules (which have never stopped conflicts of interest among the revolving door people). Members of the Defense Policy Board is a good example. Those folks helped pedal the Iraqi War.
The industry gives politicians junket trips and other emoluments
Congressional members vital to the military-national security industry are plied with junkets to sunny places in the winter, honored with awards, and in other ways cater to their egos, palates and pleasures. For example, the Aerospace Industries Association in 2011 handed one of its top awards, the Wings of Liberty, to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), one of the co-chairmen of the special deficit-cutting committee. The award was given to her, not coincidentally, “on the same day the congressional super committee held its first public business meeting,” presumably to influence her vote on any budget cut that would hurt that Association’s industrial interests.9
True story from an incestuous marriage made in Hell
Yes, there are three parts to the triumvirate, but they are in an incestuously inseparable. They are constantly feeding off of one another and have come to look and act alike. How this is so is nicely illustrated in the following true story about a drone trade show.
If the three parts were not tied together at the groin, you would expect the show to be held at a private facility, like say, a big arena rented by the “Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.” But this is a true story, not fiction.
The event was held in the large foyer of the triumvirate’s (note the adjective isn’t “government’s”) Rayburn House Office building adjacent to Capital Hill. What follows are some excerpts from an article in which the writer tells about the event and then adds some commentary.
–on tables around the room sat some very fancy, very tiny flying things. A bunch of beefy guys in suits or polo shirts or military garb were gathered around tables. The toys were mostly military devices that the company representatives said they’re now marketing to cops and civilians. Table hands from companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing and RP Flight Systems told me they’d come to show the hottest new drones, robots and mini blimps to House members and staffers. They were there at the invitation of the U.S. House Unmanned Systems Caucus. A rep from RP Flight Systems explained that his companies drones helped put out fires. But across the room a man in camo (sic) who looked just out of combat showed me his drone for cops.
–the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) — which doubled its lobbying expenditures from 2010 to 2011, spending nearly $300,000. In the process, the defense industry’s man on Capitol Hill Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) was convinced to start an Unmanned Systems Caucus in the U.S. House, as industry showered the caucus members with cash.
–there isn’t much difference between the two entities’ missions [and] AUVSI’s values are the Unmanned System Caucus members’ values. This, of course, is no mistake. The Obama administration wants drones to continue its shadow wars, from Africa to Pakistan, that have yielded hundreds of drone strikes — and the deaths of hundreds of civilians, with many more than that injured, according to data meticulously collected by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. There is little public debate over these strikes, largely because the administration, while publicly talking about the CIA’s drone policy, will not officially acknowledge it exists, –. There is little if any mention of this aspect of drone usage on the Unmamned Systems Caucus website.
When the line between industry profit motives and public officials’ priorities is beyond the point of blurry to the extent of being non-existent, there is a problem for true representative democracy, to say the least. When Congress is beholden to its donors and not voters or the public citizenry, the system is broken. And there is no better way to illustrate the corrosive impact of money’s effect on American politics than this system of defense spending and the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex. The toy du jour for this system is the drone. New technology, same game.10
End of story. It’s just one of countless examples of the incestuous marriage made in Hell. Who is getting the more screwed than the marriage partners that never get out of bed? You got it, the taxpayer who’s not even in the house, let alone the bedroom.
Supporters of the triumvirate: Accessories, accomplices, allies, and standbys
This triumvirate is so powerful one could rightly wonder why supporters outside the triumvirate are needed. Clout it has, but stupid it is not. It will always take support solicited and unsolicited. Moreover, it wouldn’t dare alienate millions of supporters.
They come in four shades of difference. Accessories give aid to the triumvirate as necessary. Accomplices are partners of the triumvirate in some endeavor, usually one involving wrongdoing. Allies help or cooperate with the triumvirate. Standbys, the largest group by far, are witnesses giving unwitting, inactive support by not actively opposing the triumvirate. No attempt will be made here to distinguish supporters by the first three shades.
The tangential insiders
Tangential insiders are the some one million civilian employees in the Federal government that do not work in the triumvirate itself. Some tangentials are less tangential than others because they work in agencies or entities that have varying kinds of direct contact with the military-national security sector (e.g., The State Department is a foil for the sector; the U.S. Peace Corps with volunteers scattered in distant lands accomplishing very little besides PR and no peace; the U.S. Institute of Peace for more PR and accomplishing no peace; the FBI “focusing on terrorist organizations, foreign intelligence services, weapons proliferators, and criminal enterprises;” etc., etc.). But no tangentials could very likely be expected to risk their careers by actively protesting the triumvirate’s existence or activities.
Science, engineering, and the professions
This category of supporters could just as well be titled “science nonfiction.” Its members by and large have been lured to, and their professed “academic freedom,” “professional calling,” codes of ethics, and work all corrupted by contract money from the triumvirate. It could not exist as we know, fear and suffer from it without the nonfictional support of science, engineering and the professions.
Some scientists and engineers are “weaponeers.” Some professionals help train the military to use the weapons, to be ready for combat, to help torture prisoners, and the like. It would take volumes to detail the symbiosis from WWII forward between the “Dr. Strangelove’s and this sector. Just a few files from the records of science nonfiction ought to suffice, though.
Ever hear of Fido, the non-fictional dog that wasn’t a dog at all? It was the code name for “the top secret, first-ever, air-launched, anti-submarine, acoustic homing torpedo” [that helped] to turn the tide in the Allies’ favor in the hard fought battle for control of the Atlantic sea lanes.” Fido was “the joint creation of engineers at the Bell Telephone Laboratories (BTL) and scientists at the Harvard Underwater Sound Lab.”11
Then there is science at one of its most unspeakably heinous times, the Manhattan Project. It began with the successful demonstration of a chain reaction process. Most scientists, in learning of its success were reportedly overjoyed, but not Leo Szilard who told Enrico Fermi, “This day will go down as a black day in the history of mankind.” Pilots could not have dropped the two atomic bombs on Japan were it not for that initial, successful experiment and the subsequent assembling of a group of Noble Laureate scientists who worked feverishly and secretively on the project. Obviously, though, the two bombs would not have been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had then warrior-in-chief Harry Truman decided instead to drop one offshore as a warning.
Military drones are the latest example of science and engineering gone morally haywire. The deadly bombs they carry and drop don’t require live pilots in the cockpit, so there’s no need for one. The military apparently is even thinking about drones no bigger than insects that could enter caves to spot terrorists! Reality is indeed stranger than fiction.
Did you notice in reading the list of the top 100 defense contractors that one of them is Battelle Memorial Institute? It is a private nonprofit applied science and technology development company. It is exempt from taxation because it is a “charitable” trust organized as a nonprofit corporation. One of its three business divisions doesn’t sound charitable at all: National Security – Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive technologies, Aerospace, Maritime and Ground Systems, Environmental Systems and Energetic Systems.
And did you notice that The Johns Hopkins University was also on the list. Clicking on it will get you eventually to the Applied Physics Laboratory of that university. It is a not-for-profit, university-affiliated research center employing 4,500 people and is primarily a defense contractor for the Department of Defense, NASA, and other government agencies.
The last two file items to mention here are from the fields of anthropology and psychology, the latter being the field in which this writer earned his doctorate decades ago. It might seem farfetched to include anthropology but did you know for example that Franz Boas, one of the founders of American anthropology and one of the first presidents of the American Anthropological Association, was censured by it in 1919 after he criticized scholars who served as spies during World War I, and that the field has not abandoned this practice.12 As for psychology, the DoD created “behavioral science consultation teams” relying on findings from psychological research that was specifically designed to test different ways to torture prisoners.13
“The aim of public education is not to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. … Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim … is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.” That cynical but mostly valid assessment was written in The American Mercury in 1924 by the social critic and wit, H.L. Mencken, and if alive today he would have still written it.
So one tried and true way this triumvirate has for gaining access to and shaping the minds of the people is through the nation’s educational institutions. Compulsory education, for instance, offers up some 50 million young minds for access and shaping. One particular access route is through hawkish, right wing dominated school boards. They look favorably on any learning materials that are jingoist patriotism and are not about to allow any into the classroom that reveal the nation to be a war maker, not a peace maker. History, Winston Churchill once said, is written by the victors. A book like the late Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, for instance would be rejected outright for a high school history class if any board member had the temerity to recommend it.
Educational institutions provide many other opportunities for penetration and exploitation by this triumvirate. They include, for example allowing military recruiters to visit high schools; inviting honor guards and military bands at schools’ sporting events; inviting NCAA basketball teams to play on aircraft carriers; offering potential military recruits educational benefits; hiring celebrated military officers to teach at universities; offering (formerly compulsory) ROTC programs at colleges and universities; providing military programs by the American Council on Education; and providing military training in boarding and non-boarding military prep schools for school-age youngsters.
Mainstream media/entertainment industries
Another access this triumvirate has for reaching and shaping critically unthinking and impressionable minds is through the accommodating mainstream media and entertainment industries. The Pentagon, for example, spends billions of dollars every year on military advertising.
Can you match the following slogans that appear unceasingly on the airwaves, newsprints, and internet with their services, and that target young men and women between the ages of 16 and 21? Be All You Can Be. Get an Edge on Life. It’s Not just a job. It’s an Adventure! You and the ____. Full Speed Ahead. The Few. The Proud. We’re Looking For a Few Good Men. Aim High. Be Part of the Action. If you can’t match the last one with the Coast Guard neither could 97% of the targeted youth a DoD contractor surveyed. If, on the other hand, you matched the first slogan with the Army so too did 91% of the surveyed youth.14 If you are a sports fan you probably matched most of them correctly for they appear on televised major league baseball, professional football, professional basketball, professional motor racing, “ad” nauseam.
Televised programs and wireless internet games featuring violence play perfectly into the hands of a triumvirate that specializes in violence. Toy makers are another good conduit and it is also a good analogy for childlike grown up men in the triumvirate who play for real with deadly “toys.” Let’s not forget Hollywood and its movies that celebrate struggles with and victories over enemies. Hollywood and the military have a reciprocal alliance that suits each party perfectly. Hollywood submits it war glorifying movie scripts to the military for review and gets access to dazzling military equipment to use for props in profitable movies. The military gets free PR aimed at movie goers.15
They are a motley lot but they all share at least two things in common. They are the triumvirate’s cheerleaders, sine qua non; they make no bones about it; and their views are usually extreme and unyielding.
The views of some zealots moreover can be very dangerous as well, as in the case of ideologues like the neoconservatives. They spurred on the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld administration to declare war on Iraq and practically destroy it. These neocons are said to have been spawned by the Cold War, but the idea and zeal for American imperialism via military intervention permeates the history of the United States . President William McKinley, for example, shortly before launching the Spanish-American War on behalf of U.S. commercial interests, said: “We want a foreign market for our surplus markets.”16
Equally provocative if not also equally dangerous are religious zealots. They have invariably been supportive of war efforts and sometimes instigators of them throughout recorded history. The Christian Zionists, for instance are an inflammatory bunch trying to egg the U.S. into war on behalf of Israel . Equally shameful but less dangerous are all people of the cloth who fail to criticize U.S. military aggression for fear of losing the financial offerings of their flocks. Paying lip service to and posturing for peace (e.g., the lighting of the “advent candle of peace”) are about the limit of spiritual leaders’ stance on the absence of peace in the world.
Think tanks and front groups
Unlike the zealots, front groups and think tanks don’t usually shout out their support for this triumvirate. Think tanks are more cerebral than visceral, although some can be quite hawkish. Front groups camouflage their real purpose, euphemize it, or obfuscate it.
“Two of Washington ‘s most bellicose think tanks,” says staff writer Will Sommer of the Washington City Paper, are the American Security Council Foundation and the Center for Security Policy. Sommer tells the amusing story about these two feuding over who has the trademark rights to the slogan, “Peace Through Strength.”17
Those two groups are among more than 120 groups that Right Web, an outfit that “tracks militarist efforts to influence foreign policy” has on its list (http://rightweb.irc-online.org). A tiny sample of the others includes the American Enterprise Institute, the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Claremont Institute, the Committee on the Present Danger, the Emergency Committee for Israel, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Freedom House, the Heritage Foundation (hawkish Senator Jim DeMint is resigning to head up this hard right “think” tank at a salary ten times his senatorial pay), the National Endowment for Democracy, the New American Century, and the NGO Monitor. You can probably tell from their titles which ones are the most suspicious. The motto of one of them is “fighting terrorism and promoting freedom” but it could surely speak for the rest also regardless of their titles.
Conspirators have goals in common. Even competitors may be conspirators when they have goals in common. Conspirators do not need to conspire in the dark but they are not about to publicize their intentions and motives unless they are cloaked in propaganda for public consumption.
The entire corpocracy, not just this triumvirate is full of conspirators looking out for the interests of each of its members. An overriding interest is to keep the corpocracy’s marriage intact. Other interests to protect and expand, some more important for certain members of the corpocracy than for others, include staying for a lifetime in public office; protecting corporations’ fraudulent constitutional rights, not citizen rights; ensuring legislation, regulations, and judicial verdicts that protect corporate interests, not the public’s interests or the general welfare; keeping the government’s plentiful and endless hand outs; privatizing public services; controlling the mass media; keeping the marketplace free, not fair; and expanding and protecting a profitable hegemony in other lands (corporations want global markets and politicians want global influence).
Any member therefore within the corpocracy but outside of this particular triumvirate can be considered a conspiratorial supporter of it. Prominent examples include the Business Roundtable, the Carlyle Group, the interlocking network of CEO corporate directors, the Council of Foreign Relations (called by historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., a “front organization for the heart of the American Establishment”), the G8 club, the International Monetary Fund, the Transatlantic Business Dialogue, the Trilateral Commission, the World Economic Forum, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, and Bilderberg. If you have never heard of Bilderberg, that’s fine with Bilderberg. They are a top secret cabal of the power elite who meet once a year to plot how they are going to turn the world into one large corpocracy (their inaugural meeting was held in the Hotel Bilderberg, Germany ).
The conspirators, think tanks and front groups, incidentally are not mutually exclusive groups.
Trumped up and/or provoked foreign enemies
If there is no enemy de jour (as if that has ever happened) this triumvirate trumps up an imaginary one or provokes a potential friend into becoming a foe. Who can forget the WMDs that were figments of the Bush administration’s inner circle and the Defense Policy Boards’ imagination and excuse for devastating Iraq ?
America also has a knack for turning potential friends into enemies to be blasted away. There was the Korean War in which upwards of four million Koreans, mostly civilians were bombed to death simply because of the American hype and hoax of the “falling dominoes,” the rationalization that hid the real reason, fear of U.S. imperialism being crimped. There was the Vietnam War. A Viet Cong soldier reportedly asked an American drafted soldier, “Why do you fight us, we admire America.” We could go on and on case by case through 300 some U.S. wars and lesser wars throughout America’s history but what would be the point of hammering it to death like we do our enemies?
Well, there is a case since 1949 that sticks out like yet another war waiting to erupt, the case of Israel. With a “friend” like Israel America is guaranteed a cornucopia of enemies throughout the world. The U.S. reportedly spends more on Israeli defense than Israeli taxpayers do!18 That is outrageous and reckless, if not also treasonous.
Charles Derber, a sociologist and major influence on this writer’s book, The Devil’s Marriage: Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lurch, contends “–today’s regime ‘can survive only by practicing a foreign policy of bad faith that [he calls] ‘marry-your-enemy.’”19 This writer offers a different metaphor, “today’s regime gives birth to enemies.”
This triumvirate needs and gets real and professed enemies because 1) it needs ever expanding markets and resources around the globe, 2) its imperialistic militarism is bound to create enemies, 3) like Orwell’s Oceania, the triumvirate needs to justify the bloated defense budget, 4) war making is far more profitable and career enhancing for the triumvirate than peace making, 5) having enemies not only distracts the home crowd from domestic woes but is a good excuse for putting the boot down on the dissenting ones among the crowd, 6) it’s an uncontrollable addictive habit, and 7) the triumvirate is led by aggressive males. Let’s call them “the seven nasty habits of successful triumvirate men.”
Standbys by the millions
There were no standbys during the Vietnam War. There were millions of “stand up” protestors not only because the war was senseless but because America ’s youth were being forced to fight and die in it. Afterwards, the triumvirate got smart and eliminated the draft. Ever since there have been pitifully few stand ups and millions upon millions of standbys loosely called the “silent majority.”
They stand by for one or more of several reasons. No draft. Few loved ones killed or maimed. Jingoistic patriotism. An inconvenient truth denied. Accustomed to war and/or numbed from constant exposure to it. Feelings of helplessness. Overly occupied and exhausted by scratching out a living. Duped by the triumvirate. War accepted, even expected as a normal routine of life’s violence.
Legalized murder and lesser wrongdoing
Wrongdoing is any action that causes some degree of harm, whether physical, financial and/or psychological in nature. There’s legal wrongdoing and then there’s illegal wrongdoing. Most of this triumvirate’s wrongdoing is legal simply because the government treats it as legal.
The triumvirate’s legalized murder
Murder is any action intended to cause death. Surrogate murder is murder someone has someone else commit. Murder is a crime. That is all that really needs to be said other than to add that this triumvirate obviously doesn’t see its military killings as murder, surrogate murder or as a crime. Moreover, this triumvirate holds itself to be immune from international law, the International Criminal Court (the U.S. refuses to be a member of it), the Nuremberg principles or any of the rest of the coda and courts dealing with murderous nations.
The toll from the triumvirate’s lesser wrongdoing
Being a “lesser” wrongdoing is obviously both a relative and an absolute matter. Troubled veterans’ suicides, which number in the thousands, and are occurring once a day or so, are essentially almost equivalent to murder but by a different name and agent.
Being physically or psychologically maimed for life from having participated in or targeted by a military intervention leaves the victim alive, not dead, but the victim’s remaining lifetime condition is almost too awful to imagine. Pulitzer prize winning journalist David Wood reports, “Almost a quarter million Iraq or Afghanistan vets have been diagnosed with mental health injuries from combat service. Many more are not diagnosed, yet go on with their lives while experiencing short-term memory loss, headaches, insomnia, anger or numbness — conditions that can range from merely annoying to highly disruptive on the job and within the family.”20
Author, movie maker and social activist Michael Moore has compiled in a book poignant letters written to him from U.S. soldiers on duty.21 In the book’s inside flap Mr. Moore writes: “…after being lied to about weapons of mass destruction and about the connection between al Qaeda and Iraq; after being forced by stop-loss orders to extend their deployment; after being undertrained, underequipped, and overworked long after George Bush declared Iraq ‘Mission Accomplished,’ these soldiers have something to say.” Reading what they have to say is one reason one of this writer’s slogans is “honor veterans, dishonor war.”
A nation slowly deteriorating morally and socioeconomically from the lost opportunities for rebuilding America that cannot be done because this triumvirate swallows up 50% or so of the federal government’s discretionary budget has to be next in line along the spectrum of wrongdoing and its consequences. Over 20 trillion dollars reportedly has been spent since 1948 on the military budget. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that one-half of that amount is sheer warfare welfare, the other half reflecting a realistic defense budget limited to the costs of responding to attacks on our shores by foreign states and terrorist groups. That means 10 trillion dollars worth of lost opportunities that in a triumvirate-free America would not have been poured down a sinkhole, money that could have been constructively spent over more than a 60-year period on meeting pressing domestic and global needs in employment, education, nutrition, health care, sanitation, you name it. We would be a very different America today, a solidly secure America, an educated America, an employed America, a healthy America, a happy America, and an America at peace with the world.
Actions and consequences spread along the opposite end of that spectrum seem almost too trivial to mention in comparison to those at the other end. Long before the internet era this writer collected and stuffed in to a bulging filing cabinet, newsprint accounts of incidents of various and sundry wrongdoing by the defense industry. Here are four illustrative cases. Arms maker uses front organization to skirt US arms embargo to specified countries. Aerospace firm falsified tests on guidance devices for nuclear arm cruise missiles. Defense contractor intentionally padded its estimated expenses during negotiations then took illegally high profits when it completed the work more cheaply. Defense contractors routinely take advantage of poorly written regulations to charge all sorts of questionable expenses to the taxpayers. Few cases of defense contractors defrauding the government are prosecuted.
Ralph Nader, decades later, did his own compiling of news stories and included them along with scores of stories about wrongdoing investigations and lawsuits in other industrial sectors in a recently published book: DoD employees accepting free flights, accommodations and hospitality from private and foreign interest that do business with the Pentagon; thousands of private military contractors operating in Afghanistan; overbilling, faulty products and services and bribery by Halliburton and a subsidiary; offshore manufacturing of integrated circuits for use in military gear; Northrop Grumman’s overbilling of improperly tested parts; false claims for bullet-proof vests; cost overruns by the Missile Defense Agency; laxity in prosecuting contractor fraud; and overbilling by tens of millions of dollars work done in Iraq by a company formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide.22
Who are “those people?”
Ever wonder who the people are in the triumvirate and among its staunchest supporters? Not one of them was born with a weaponeer’s habits in place. What was their upbringing, their education, their socialization? What are their personalities? What kind of families do they have? Do they interrupt their unholy work to attend places of worship? What do they think about their work and careers? Do they rely on moral rationalizations to justify their work or do they take it as a matter of fact or with a sense of patriotic duty and pride?
The answers to such questions are not meant to be fodder for social gossip. Answering the questions would help reformers targeting the triumvirate to better understand it not in the abstract or institutionally but in the flesh of real people. Without people in them, institutions, systems, and corporations are abstractions. A cursory search of the internet (a dozen pages) surprisingly found no sociological and psychological studies of what kinds of people inhabit this triumvirate and are among its staunchest supporters. If no such studies exist, it is a study begging to be done.
Other than the US warrior in chief, the top Pentagon and military brass, members of Congress who advance the war agenda, and individuals doing the killing, this writer isn’t about to consider all of the rest of “those people” as murderers. They aren’t monsters, but they are caught up in a monstrous situation that depends partly on them to continue existing.
Any way we look at it, the military-national security, industrial, political triumvirate is indeed a monster too destructive, deadly and costly to keep on tolerating. Writing about it has been a dispiriting experience and a relief to finish. This writer is not quite sure how he will experience the writing of the rest of this trilogy other than to continue having the feelings of frustration and futility he already has because it will take major surgery to remove all of this triumvirate’s cancerous cells from the sinews of every one of “our” major American institutions and of society itself.
Note: An excellent, ongoing chronicling of imperialistic, militaristic America is provided by William Blum in his “Anti Empire Reports,” which are also published at Dissident Voice.
- From wikipedia 11/22/12. Some companies are subsidiaries of others. A few are located in other countries. Corporations with an asterisk are among the top 25 defense contractors. [↩]
- From Wikipedia. [↩]
- Department of Defense Business Connection and Buyers Guide. [↩]
- Excerpts from NDIA Magazine article, February 6, 2012. [↩]
- Thieves in High Places: They’ve Stolen our Country and it’s Time to Take it Back, by Jim Hightower, NY: Viking, 2003, p. xix). [↩]
- POGO Project on Government Oversight July 26, 2012 Ex Lockheed Lobbyist Now in Key Defense Oversight Role by Ben Freeman. [↩]
- Washington ‘s Wealth Is About Changing Norms, Not Engaged Rich People, by Timothy B. Lee, Forbes Magazine, September 24, 2012. [↩]
- The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. NY: Metropolitan Books, by Naomi Klein, 2007, p. 316. [↩]
- Top defense-aerospace trade association to honor supercommittee leader, The Hill. [↩]
- Excerpts from When the Defense Industry and Congress are Indistinguishable: Drone Edition, by John Amick, September 14, 2012. http://www.warcosts.com. [↩]
- The Military’s Role in Stimulating Science and Technology: The Turning Point, by Kathleen Broome Williams. Foreign Policy Research Institute Newsletter, May 2010, Vol. 15, No 3. [↩]
- See, e.g., If CIA Calls, Should Anthropology Answer? by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, September 1, 2006. [↩]
- See, e.g., Dr. Frankenstein and the APA’s Decade of Monstrosities, by Roy Eidelson, opednews.com, August 28, 2012. [↩]
- Recognition of Military Advertising Slogans among American Youth, by Wayne Hintze and Jerry Lehnus. [↩]
- Hollywood, Military Cooperation Often Mutually Beneficial by Steven Donald Smith, American Forces Press Service, Los Angeles, 21, 2006. [↩]
- A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn, NY: Harper Petennial/Modern Classics, p. 299. [↩]
- No Peace for Hawkish Think Tanks Over Reagan Slogan,” by Will Sommer, Washington City Paper, September 14, 2012. [↩]
- US Taxpayers Paid More to Israeli Defense bBdget than Israelis, by Alison Weir, Veterans News Now, September 17, 2012. [↩]
- Regime Change Begins at Home: Freeing America from Corporate Rule, by Charles Derber, San Francisco: Barrett-Koehler, 2004, p. 100. [↩]
- Iraq, Afghanistan War Veterans Struggle with Combat Trauma, by David Wood, Huff Post World, December 7, 2012. [↩]
- Will They ever Trust Us Again? Letters from the War Zone by Michael Moore, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2004. [↩]
- Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build it Together to Win by Ralph Nader, Monroe Maine: Common Courage Press, 2011. [↩]