Problems with Current U.S. Policy.Key Problems
* The U.S. spends 50% of its discretionary budget on the military and a mere 2% on foreign aid.
* The troika of campaign contributions, Pentagon lobbying, and pork-barrel projects keeps funding flowing to cold war relics.
* The global supremacy of U.S. military equipment and the primacy of American forces have resulted in a complacency toward foresighted weapons development at the Pentagon.
In contrast with the tens of billions of dollars spent on cold war military relics in any given year, relatively little money is used to curb conflict, either through development assistance or peacekeeping. For fiscal year 2001, foreign aid spending is expected to be about 2.3% ($14 billion) of discretionary spending, while the Pentagon will devour approximately half of the funds available--some $310 billion.
All the military branches are continuing development of cold war-type weapons systems long after their threat justification has evaporated, or cost overruns and production delays have made programs prohibitively expensive. Many factors contribute to gross overspending, including entrenched en·trench also in·trench
v. en·trenched, en·trench·ing, en·trench·es
1. To provide with a trench, especially for the purpose of fortifying or defending.
2. Pentagon bureaucracies and, to a lesser extent, the Pentagon's official strategy of preparing to fight two regional wars simultaneously. Further, a booming U.S. economy in the 1990s and election politics in 2000 have led to bipartisan support for a bigger military budget and more big-ticket items.
President Clinton's September 1, 2000, decision to not decide on building a national missile defense National Missile Defense (NMD) as a generic term is a military strategy and associated systems to shield an entire country against incoming Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). The missiles could be intercepted by other missiles, or possibly by lasers. (NMD NMD Neuromuscular disease, see there ) system simply delayed construction of one component but, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times (September 4), left in place "a number of lesser-known antimissile an·ti·mis·sile
Designed to intercept and destroy another missile in flight: antimissile defense; an antimissile missile. weapons [that] might be candidates for the same job." Already under development are a number of so-called theater missile A missile, which may be a ballistic missile, a cruise missile, or an air-to-surface missile (not including short-range, non-nuclear, direct fire missiles, bombs, or rockets such as Maverick or wire-guided missiles), whose target is within a given theater of operation. Also called TM. defense systems intended to protect U.S. troops and bases in particular regions, such as the Middle East or Far East Asia East Asia
A region of Asia coextensive with the Far East.
East Asian adj. & n. . If the NMD system is shelved by the next president, military experts say these theater systems, several of which are scheduled to be available by 2007, could be expanded to cover the entire United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . But, as James Glanz James Glanz is an American journalist who was recently named to be the next Baghdad bureau chief of The New York Times.
Glanz joined the Times in 1999. writes in the Times, "Many of these systems have yet to be tested for the purpose for which they were originally intended, let alone a new, more ambitious one...."
Three primary catalysts drive the continuing development and production of these and other hugely expensive weapons systems with questionable military utility. This troika of Pentagon requests, campaign money, and pork projects is not to be underestimated, because it comprises the mother's milk Noun 1. mother's milk - milk secreted by a woman who has recently given birth
milk - produced by mammary glands of female mammals for feeding their young of weapons acquisition spending.
The Pentagon plays its part by pushing programs--despite rising costs and decreasing threats. A three-part Baltimore Sun Baltimore Sun
Daily newspaper published in Baltimore, Md., U.S. It was begun as a four-page penny tabloid in 1837 by Arunah Shepherdson Abell, a journeyman printer from Rhode Island. expose of the F-22 noted that the Air Force "deliberately underestimated costs ... to win political support" for the program. The July 1999 series of articles also noted that Defense Department officials "overstated o·ver·state
tr.v. o·ver·stat·ed, o·ver·stat·ing, o·ver·states
To state in exaggerated terms. See Synonyms at exaggerate.
o the need for the fighter" and "stripped away" alternatives to the F-22 in order to make the jet more attractive to congressional appropriators.
Meanwhile, campaign contributions flow freely from deep-pocketed military contractors. According to an April 1997 World Policy Institute report, during the 1996 election cycle, "the top 25 arms exporters gave a record $10.8 million" in campaign contributions. Not surprisingly, the firm that provided the most political action committee money during that period ($2.4 million) was Lockheed Martin--maker of the F-22.
And despite enormous cost overruns--the F-22's price tag has more than tripled--congressional support has continued, partly because of the jobs provided to so many thousands or potential voters. Lockheed Martin For the former company, see .
Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) is a leading multinational aerospace manufacturer and advanced technology company formed in 1995 by the merger of Lockheed Corporation with Martin Marietta. has seeded jobs for the F-22 in over 45 states in order to broaden its political base of support. So, for many legislators, the desire to help a contributor, provide for (in their minds) national security, and create jobs back home adds up to an easy choice come voting time. And without substantial opposition, legislators have few reasons to resist such programs.
Another factor sustaining these cold war relics is the prowess of the current U.S. arsenal. American companies manufacture the most effective weapons in the world. Since U.S. military superiority appears to have served the country well, the Pentagon maintains a certain complacency toward developing new types of weapons more suitable to current security needs. Therefore, weapons systems that would address the evolving face of warfare are often perceived as too risky or too revolutionary to warrant the investment needed for development.
Weapon Military Branch Total Program Cost F-22 Air Force $63 billion RAH-66 Comanche Army $43 billion Crusader Army $13 billion New attack sub Navy $65.2 billion V-22 Marine Corps $37.3 billion CVN-77 Navy $5.2 billion LHD-8 Navy $1.2 billion Weapon Role F-22 Air superiority fighter RAH-66 Comanche Stealth attack helicopter Crusader Self-propelled artillery New attack sub Offensive submarine V-22 Troop transport CVN-77 Nuclear aircraft carrier LHD-8 Helicopter carrier
Tom Cardamone <email@example.com> is the executive director of the Council for a Livable World Education Fund in Washington, DC.