Statesmen Versus Salesmen: Nothing Has Changed

Nearly thirteen years ago, some asshole with a blog commented on former generals’ conflicts of interest in “Because ‘NBC Analyst and War Profiteer’ Doesn’t Sound Very Nice”:

I think Digby gets to the heart of the implications of this:

That subject is so outside the mainstream to even question this stuff that you sound like a kook even bringing it up. But the fact is that one of the fundamental reasons we have deep intractable economic problems is this massive government welfare program we call the defense industry. It does create jobs. But it produces destruction and warps this country’s priorities to the point where they are incoherent. And there’s zero discussion anywhere about changing that.

I would put it more simply: this is war profiteering. What makes it all the more galling is that without a lot of soldiers risking their lives, McCaffrey would have not reached the rank he did to able to cash in like this. If he wants to work for a defense contractor, that’s fine. But when he then simultaneously uses his record of public service–which is admirable–as nothing more than an ad pitch, that’s wrong.

You shouldn’t be a statesman and a salesman.

Just like the political press corps’ disappearance of the anti-war left, nothing has changed (boldface mine):

What neither Keane nor the host in either of these segments mentioned is that he has more than merely a patriotic interest in the continued occupation. Keane, a former board member at weapons maker General Dynamics, is chair of AM General, the company that makes Humvees. He also sits on the boards of Cyalume Technologies Inc., which manufactures military chemical lights and other technology deployed on the battlefield in Afghanistan, and the Institute for the Study of War, a think tank that publishes defense policy proposals with the aim of “developing the next generation of national security leaders” and is backed by CACI International Inc., General Dynamics, and other defense contractors.

Keane was just one of a parade of ex-military and ex-public officials who appeared on cable news this week to castigate the Biden administration for its withdrawal or for the way it was carried out. Among the other talking heads who took to cable news segments or op-ed pages without disclosing their defense industry ties were retired Gen. David Petraeus; Rebecca Grant, a former staffer for the Air Force secretary; Richard Haass, who worked as an adviser to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell; and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Cable hosts described these guests by their military credentials — not their current jobs as representatives of the defense industry, a sector that has seen extraordinary profits from the 20-year occupation of Afghanistan.

There are more of the greedy, grasping details in the article, if you can stomach it.

This is a form of corruption as pernicious as any other, arguably more so:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

It is so exhausting to keep fighting these same battles over and over, especially as it crowds out our ability to focus on new problems, but, unfortunately, they’re not going away because there’s too much money in it.

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1 Response to Statesmen Versus Salesmen: Nothing Has Changed

  1. Bern says:

    See also Butler, Smedley; USMC, for historical perspective. We’ve know about the racket for decades and it’s beyond time to do something about it (other than generate a new cohort of profiteers)…

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