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Posts Tagged ‘military-industrial-complex’

“Spigot of military dollars is about to reopen”

No surprise, the Trump transition’s “landing team” for defense includes several members with deep connections to corporations (including Boeing, L-3, Elbit, Cubic, BAE) that sell weapons to the US government plus at least two consulting/lobbying firms.

Of those with military experience, the Trump team appears to have a clear preference for Army officers.

The Department of Defense “landing team” members were announced on November 18.

Writing in Defense News, Aaron Mehta suggests the appointments indicate that any skepticism about excessive military spending Trump voiced on the campaign trail may be put aside. “Those comments seem long ago, with today’s team announcement unlikely to change the belief among investors that the spigot of military dollars is about to reopen,” Mehta reported last week.

Here’s the cast of characters that will guide the Trump transition:

Mira Ricardel, who spent 8 years as a Boeing VP for space and missile systems, describes herself as consultant specializing in “marketing, sales and growth strategies, leveraging extensive US Government policy, program and operations expertise in the defense and aerospace arena.” Prior to her service at Boeing (2006 – 2015), she held senior positions at the Pentagon, worked on Capitol Hill, and spent a year and a half at Freedom House.

Keith Kellogg is a retired U.S. Army general who ran the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad from 2003 to 2004 and later served as a Vice President at the Cubic Corporation. Cubic subsidiaries specialize in combat training and “highly specialized support services for military and security forces of the U.S. and allied nations,” such as “networked Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities for defense, intelligence, security, and commercial missions.” Cubic says it has operations in nearly 60 countries.

Thomas Carter, another veteran of the Coalition Provisional Authority, has been in and out of military, diplomatic, political, and corporate service going back to the Reagan administration. Most recently, he spent several years lobbying for Elbit Systems, an Israeli military electronics company that manufactures drones and surveillance components of Israel’s separation wall. Elbit, which, owns Kohlsman Instruments in Merrimack NH, has been targeted for divestment by the BDS movement.

Michael Duffey, currently Executive Director of the Wisconsin Republican Party, previously served in a variety of Pentagon posts, including special assistant to the White House liaison.

William Hartzog, another retired Army general, currently serves as CEO of Burdeshaw Associates, which describes itself as “a full-spectrum, senior consulting and professional services firm, consisting of former Senior Military Officers, Government Civilians, and Corporate Executives with unparalleled knowledge, experience and insight.” The firm was founded in 1979, it says, “to bridge the gap between the defense industry and the U.S. Army, primarily in its equipment development process.” According to Open Secrets, Hartzog was a lobbyist for a partnership between the Nurol Group of Turkey and BAE Systems. The partnership, known as FNSS Defence Systems, supplies combat vehicles and weapons to Turkey’s armed forces.

Justin Johnson served as an aide to Rep. Todd Akin and Rep. Doug Lamborn, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, before landing at the Heritage Foundation, where he specializes in defense budgets and policy.

Earl Matthews is described as a current or recent employee of the U.S. Army.

Bert Mizusawa, another retired Army general, ran for Congress in 2010 and lost in a competitive GOP primary.

Sergio de la Pena is a retired Army colonel who has lobbied for L-3 Communications and now runs his own consulting firm. From 2006 to 2008, he served as Division Chief for International Affairs in the Northern Command, which runs U.S. military operations in North America and the Caribbean. L-3 is the ninth largest military contractor, according to Defense News.

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Business is Booming

Projections for slow growth in US government spending on military weapons are sending firms looking across the border for new markets. And our government is ready to help them peddle “aerospace and defense” products all over the globe.

It’s not just the federal government getting behind the global arms trade. What Dwight Eisenhower called the “military industrial complex” reaches into state economic development offices, at least in New Hampshire. That’s one of my takeaways from the second annual New Hampshire Aerospace and Defense Conference, which drew about 200 people to the Radisson in Manchester on June 1.

Perhaps I should not be surprised. After all, the state’s largest industrial employer is Jeff Rose_001 BAE, a British firm that was the Pentagon’s third largest contractor last year. And the state’s Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) is headed by Jeff Rose, who worked as director of public affairs for BAE Electronic Systems prior to entering state service and who served as one of the conference’s opening speakers.

Rose’s department, through the Division of Economic Development, hosted the conference in partnership with the NH Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a private group that happens to be housed at the DRED office on Pembroke Road in Concord.

Federal officials, both elected and appointed, were there, too. The keynote speaker was Kenneth Hyatt, Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade at the US Department of Commerce, who said he had recently attended a meeting of the Aerospace Industries Association, the biggest lobbying group for firms that sell missiles, bombers, and other weapons. They were talking about “flat or declining defense sales in the US,” he said, and that’s why “the US government needs to support exports.”

It’s a “competitive mandate that you’ve got to export,” Hyatt advised.

Kling’s comments were reinforced later in the day by Paul Kling, Deputy VP for Operations and Supplier Partnerships at BAE, who said, “Keep your eyes open to the world.”

New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation stands at the ready to help.

20160601_082304-1_resized “You have to gain access to new markets around the world,” Senator Jeanne Shaheen said via a video shown at the opening session. “Don’t hesitate to reach out to me,” she stressed.

“I will do everything I can to make sure New Hampshire’s aerospace and defense industry continues to be successful … in the global marketplace,” pledged Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster, also via video.

Senator Kelly Ayotte, who was there in person, said she was working on making it20160601_082559-1_resized “easier and more efficient” to sell products overseas, a top level demand of arms traders held back by government regulations that require them to jump through various hoops before their products can reach foreign markets.

“If there is anything you need from us, do not hesitate to reach out,” Congressman Frank Guinta offered.

“Opportunities for Aerospace and Defense Products, Technologies and Services in the International Marketplace” was the conference theme. The opportunities are abundant, explained Diane Janeway, who spent 30 years at Northrup Grumman and now works on market forecasts at Jane’s IHS. “Global defense spending will increase as perceived threats to stability grow in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East,” she projected.

According to Janeway, growth in Russia’s military spending will end due to fiscal realities, presumably drops in the price of petroleum. And China’s rapid growth in military spending will slow to single digits. But NATO spending is trending upward, she said, and overall, “the global aerospace and defense industry has a solid future.”

Granted, the industry is not all about armaments. But little distinction was made by conference speakers.

Camilo Gonzalez, Senior Regional Commercial Specialist with the US and Foreign Commercial Service in Bogota, Colombia, expressed hope for that country’s peace process, but reassured listeners that ongoing civil strife still requires “a lot of government spending in the defense sector.”

“There’s a lot of helicopters,” he said, pointing out that the billions of dollars in US aid to the Colombian government to fight the FARC insurgents was “a big plus for you guys.” Not only that, but “all these aircraft are being shot at on a daily basis, so there’s a lot of parts needed,” Gonzalez explained. War means market opportunities.

For BAE, Jeff Rose’s former employer, nearly 93% of its revenue came from the military sector in 2015.

That military sales might pose special risks seemed to be of little concern. In a session called “Global Markets: the Big Picture,” I asked Diane Janeway and Scott 20160601_074659_resized

Kennedy, an official with the US Department of Commerce, about a recent decision by the Obama administration to cut off sales of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia. “It’s the first concrete step the United States has taken to demonstrate its unease with the Saudi bombing campaign that human rights activists say has killed and injured hundreds of Yemeni civilians, many of them children,” Foreign Policy reported on May 27. The decision will have a significant impact on Textron, which has sold millions of dollars’ worth of cluster bombs to the Saudi government.

Do staff in Kennedy’s office at the International Trade Administration advise US businesses to watch the human records of countries where they are considering doing business? Nope. Human rights “is a State Department angle,” Kennedy responded.

Do forecasters need to understand the downside risks that revelations of human rights abuses might affect markets? Apparently not, based on Janeway’s answer. “That’s nice that the Obama Administration did that, but who are they going to get them from, somebody else? I understand if you don’t want people bombing Yemen but military balance is the name of the game.”

After all, she said, “Saudi is still one of our allies whether we like it or not.”

A lunchtime conversation with a manager of a Connecticut firm which services machine shops in the aerospace industry was revealing. He’d love to get contracts with firms that build components for the superconducting supercollider, he said. But he’ll take contracts working on components of cluster bombs or nuclear triggers if that’s where the business is.

And business is booming.

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This was first published yesterday by TruthOut, reprinted by permission.  For more perspective on the undue influence of the military industrial complex, visit Governing Under the Influence.

Wars and persecution have driven the number of refugees to record-breaking highs worldwide, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported in June 2015.

Currently 59.5 million people – nearly 1 percent of the world’s population – are refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced. Half of them are children.

This crisis has everyone talking about the proper response, but very few are talking about who is profiting from this tragic situation.

The reality is that wars, including the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, fuel migration and extremism. Wars also fuel arms industry profits, which boost the industry’s capacity to influence public policy and generate more sales. For example, the US Air Force has already fired so many (more than 20,000) missiles and bombs at ISIS positions that it is on the verge of running out, USA Lockheed_Martin_Hellfire_IIToday reported on December 3, 2015. That has to be good news for Lockheed Martin, which makes the Hellfire missile.

Geopolitical tensions are causing nations worldwide to ramp up their defense capabilities, according to the investment research website Zacks.com. “Increasing threats … have pushed up demand for US weapons,” according to a post on the site. “This is in turn benefiting the US defense manufacturers.”

Military-industrial-complex executives have assured the titans of global finance that more war means more markets for their products. Lockheed Martin chief financial officer Bruce Tanner told a Credit Suisse conference that war in the Middle East would give his firm “an intangible lift,” and enhanced demand for F-22s and the new F-35 jets. At the same meeting, The Intercept reported, Oshkosh president Wilson Jones asserted his confidence that a growing ISIS threat will create more demand for the company’s armored vehicles.

Meanwhile, Gulf states are already supplying weapons manufactured in the United States to rebels in Syria, according to the Daily Mail, which quoted an executive from a US-based weapons firm as saying that the war in Syria is “a huge growth area for us.”

It is no coincidence that stock values in such companies as Raytheon, General Dynamics, Booz Allen, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman all rose steeply the day after the Paris attacks, according to The Intercept’s analysis.

International arms sales are trending upward, with the United States holding onto its position as the world leader. “The volume of transfers of major weapons in 2010-14 was 16 percent higher than in 2005-2009,” reports the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. For the United States, arms sales were up 23 percent. “More than any other supplier, the USA delivered major weapons to at least 94 recipients in 2010-14,” SIPRI’s research found. The arms were spread throughout the world, but the Middle East received one-third of US weapons exports.

Arms sold to US allies such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia don’t stay in one place. “[ISIS] fighters are using arms, mainly looted from Iraqi military stocks, which were manufactured and designed in more than two dozen countries, including Russia, China, the USA and EU states,” according to Amnesty International. “The quantity and range of [ISIS] stocks of arms and ammunition ultimately reflect decades of irresponsible arms transfers to Iraq and multiple failures by the US-led occupation administration to manage arms deliveries and stocks securely, as well as endemic corruption in Iraq itself,” Amnesty said in a new report, “Taking Stock: Arming Islamic State.”

Conflict Armament Research, a London-based group which analyzed the ISIS arsenal, found that “the Islamic State’s relatively newly-formed force has had little difficulty tapping into the huge pool of armaments fueling the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, supplied not only by the world’s big powers but also by up-and-coming exporters such as Sudan,” according to a summary from the Center for Public Integrity. One of the ammunition suppliers is a factory in Lake City, Missouri, run by Alliant Techsystems, which spent $1.35 million on lobbyists in 2014.

The cycle goes on. The military-industrial complex uses its lobbying clout and PACWe_Pay_For_M-I-C contributions to win contracts for weapons production. Weapons used overseas drive people from their homes and create more enemies. Enemies capture weapons and turn them against US targets. Desperate migrants seeking safety provoke heightened waves of xenophobia, leading to more violence at home, especially against immigrants. More fear and more violence create more markets for weapons makers. More sales provide more funds to spend on lobbyists, election campaigns and pro-war think tanks.

We can break this cycle by ending wars, welcoming refugees and interrupting the unwarranted influence of those who profit from violence. President Dwight D. Eisenhower had it right 54 years ago when he warned about the “acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

“Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together,” Eisenhower emphasized. It is long past time to answer his plea.

Copyright, Truthout.

 

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Stamp Stampede, an organization founded by Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry’s, held a rally at the State House in Concord on July 30 to bolster efforts to "stamp money out of politics."  I was one of the speakers.  The following is based on my prepared remarks.  Click here for a video of what I actually said.

Quakers say no one has all the truth and everyone has a piece of the truth, soP7300025

we need to look for truth in unusual places.  It’s interesting that one of the prophets we look to now is Dwight Eisenhower, a 5-star general, who warned about “the acquisition of unwarranted power by the military industrial complex.”

Pentagon contractors invested $27 million in candidates for Congress in the 2012 election cycle.

Just the top ten Pentagon contractors spent $23 Million on politics.  For that they received $202 billion in contracts last year.   Not a bad return on investment.

The Pentagon contractors spend $128 million a year spent on lobbying, conducted in many cases by former members of Congress, former Pentagon officials, former high-level Congressional staff members.  This is what we call the “revolving door.”

They hold job fairs for retiring generals and admirals looking for lucrative careers selling weapons back to their former colleagues. 

 

They sponsor trade groups, such as the Aerospace Industries Association, the Aircraft Carrier Industrial Base Coalition, the Submarine Industrial Base Council, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems (the trade group for drone makers), the Shipbuilders Council of America, the Surface Navy Association, the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, and more.

They sponsor “think tanks.”

They sponsor the media, for example Politico’s “Morning Defense” newsletter, brought to me each day by Northrup Grumman.

They even donate to the pet charitable projects of spouses of members of the Congressional armed service committees.

P7300029This is a classic case of what we call “governing under the influence,” or GUI.

And it’s not just the military industrial complex:

It’s the Wall Street industrial complex, the prison industrial complex, the pharmaceutical industrial complex, the fossil fuel industrial complex, and more,

They are all practicing GUI to corrupt the political process and serve private interest at the public’s expense.

If DUI is a hazard to the people on our roads and sidewalks, GUI is a hazard to democracy.

If DUI needs to be approached as a public health problem of great importance, GUI needs to be seen as a political health problem of the greatest importance.

But while DUI is a crime, GUI is entirely legal.  And it’s gotten more legal due to the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions which further opened the gates for floods of cash to flow into the political system from billionaires aP7300017nd corporations. 

The rich are getting richer.

The mega-rich are getting mega- richer.

The giga-rich are getting giga-richer.

And it is easy for them to recycle their wealth into the political system to generate policies that generate more wealth for themselves, leading to higher inequality, less democracy.   

Eisenhower said only “an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing” of industrial might with democracy’s needs.

Article 10 of the New Hampshire Bill of Rights says:

Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government.

We say people power can be stronger than corporate power and we say today we have not yet exhausted all other means of redress.  

We are calling on the candidates to tell us what they will do to end the GUI system.

We are asking:

What will they do to make sure the corporations that profit from building weapons of mass destruction are not determining our foreign policy?

What will they do to make sure corporations that own and manage prisons are not running our immigration and corrections policies?

What will they do to make sure our police departments don’t become just another profit center for the military industrial complex?

What will they do to make sure our political system is based on the principle of one person one vote, not the principle of one dollar one vote?

So far we have trained more than 500 people in NH and a couple hundred more in Iowa.  The GUI project is putting the candidates on the spot and documenting their responses.

The GUI system is strong, but not invulnerable.  It has a crack that opens in NH and Iowa.

We have a little over six months to make sure the candidates hear from us.

End GUI.

Stamp money out of politics.

P7300048

Ben Cohen, founder of Stamp Stampede

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I wrote this for the Governing Under the Influence blog.

In 1776, the signers of the Declaration of Independence stated that government derives its “just powers from the consent of the governed.” But in these days of rising escalating economic inequality, unlimited campaign spending, and a multibillion-dollar lobbying industry mostly devoted to corporate interests, the consent of the governed often seems irrelevant in the corridors of power. 

"Governing under the Influence" or “GUI.”  That’s what we call the interconnected web of campaign spending, lobbying, and revolving doors between Capitol Hill, lobbying firms, think tanks, and the Pentagon that feed private interests at the expense of public good.

Governing under the Influence can be seen at work in how public officials spend our taxpayer dollars. Let’s look at U.S. military spending, for example. Since President Eisenhower coined the phrase, the “military-industrial complex” has grown to include outsourcing of government surveillance, transforming the U.S.-Mexico border into a war zone, converting police into paramilitary forces, and turning over the military’s own core functions to private contractors.  

Lockheed Martin is a prime example of corporate influence on public policy. The corporation is the Pentagon’s top contractor. It spends over $14 million a year on lobbying, and its employee PAC (political action committee) raises another $4 million for campaign contributions. Lockheed’s 71 registered lobbyists include a former US Senator and 2 former US Representatives, one of whom chaired the committee which oversees the DOE’s nuclear weapons budget.

Norman Augustine, the corporation’s former CEO, is now co-chair of a government panel on nuclear weapons that has called for relaxed oversight of weapons labs and more lucrative contracts for private companies, such as Lockheed, that run them.   (See “Nuclear Weapons Complex: Foxes Guard Chickens.”)  The current CEO, Marillyn Hewson, sits on the International Advisory Board of The Atlantic Council, a think tank with close ties to the military and foreign policy elite.    

What does Lockheed Martin get from its investment and connections? More than $25 billion in government contracts every year. Lockheed is the primary contractor on the F-35 fighter plane, the most expensive weapons system in Pentagon history, and it also runs the Sandia nuclear weapons lab in New Mexico.  According a report of the Department of Energy’s Inspector General, released last November, Lockheed has illegally used funds from nuclear weapons contracts to lobby for more contracts.  (See “Nuclear weapons lab used taxpayer funds to obtain more taxpayer funds” from the Center for Public Integrity for details.)

This may be business as usual in Washington, and sometimes it’s easier to shrug our shoulders and give in to the thinking that this system will never change.

But something is bubbling up in Iowa and New Hampshire, where the first contests for the 2016 presidential nominations will take place. There, the Governing Under the Influence (GUI) project is reminding candidates that the interests of the people must come first.

With seven months to go before the Iowa caucuses, we’ve already trained more than 500 volunteers to “bird dog” candidates about the excessive corporate influence that drives our country toward more wars, more prisons, and more violence. Our team of volunteers is at town halls, fairgrounds, living rooms, TV studios, city sidewalks—anywhere candidates appear—to ensure these issues get the attention they deserve. 

The GUI project isn’t partisan; it’s not about ranking the candidates or telling anyone how they should vote. It’s about shifting the political discourse by exposing forces that steer us in the wrong direction. And we’ve already seen results, drawing out responses from close to 20 candidates and garnering attention from media outlets like the Boston Globe, Fox News, and Huffington Post.

This Fourth of July, join us in declaring independence from corporate rule.  If “just powers” come from the consent of the governed, the GUI project may be just the thing to bring about change.

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“War is good business for those in the business of war,” write William Hartung and Stephen Miles in a recent Huffington Post article.  Noting estimates of $12 million a day in outright waste, fraud, and abuse during the recent (or ongoing?) wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they suggest the new (renewed?) war in Iraq and Syria will be a “prime opportunity for outright corruption and malfeasance.”

What’s more, more war means higher profits for arms manufacturers like Raytheon, which makes “Tomahawk” cruise missiles.  “The stock prices of the Pentagon’s top contractors have hit all-time highs since the recent wars in Iraq and Syria started two months ago,” Hartung and Miles report.

This is not some kind of coincidence.  It’s Governing Under the Influence. #GUI

Take the example of Stephen Hadley, former National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush.  He chairs the board of the US Institute of Peace (this is a true fact!).  

Hadley sits on Raytheon’s Board of Directors and chairs its public affairs committee.  For his service he was paid $253,482 last year.stephen hadley

Hadley also writes pro-war op-eds for the Washington Post, reports littlesis.org, and has backed Israel’s aggression in Gaza, where Raytheon profits from sales to the Israeli military.  

Hadley’s connection to Raytheon is not disclosed in his bio at the Institute of Peace, nor was it revealed in various columns and interviews cited by Littlesis.org.

Littlesis.org calls this a “conflict of interest” for Hadley.  It sounds to me that his interest is pretty straightforward.  

(Disclosure:  the author of this piece is a salaried employee of an anti-war organization.)

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