It was Democrats who stuffed an estimated $524 million in defense earmarks that the Pentagon did not request into the 2008 appropriations bill, about $220 million more than Republicans did, according to an independent estimate. Of the 44 senators who implored Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in January to build more F-22 Raptors — a fighter conceived during the Cold War that senior Pentagon officials say is not suited to probable 21st-century conflicts — most were Democrats.
And last July, when the Navy’s top brass decided to end production of their newest class of destroyers — in response to 15 classified intelligence reports highlighting their vulnerability to a range of foreign missiles — seven Democratic senators quickly joined four Republicans to demand a reversal. They threatened to cut all funding for surface combat ships in 2009.
Within a month, Gates and the Navy reversed course and endorsed production of a third DDG-1000 destroyer, at a cost of $2.7 billion.
And why, you ask? National Security? Naaah.
“A lot of these weapon systems that are big-ticket items now have no purpose,” said William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank. “The Taliban doesn’t have an air force. China and Russia are at least a generation behind us. So at a time when we’re talking about developing unmanned aerial vehicles and want to increase our special forces, we ought to be making a clean sweep of these systems that were built during the Cold War.”
[. . .]
Each aircraft [F-22] now costs about $145 million, and senior defense officials note that the plane has not been used in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. Although the F-22 is built as an air-superiority fighter, the U.S. military has not faced a serious dogfight threat since the Vietnam War, one of the officials said.
Well, if it’s not about national security, what is this all about? Job security. Not for us. For them.
“The thing about weapons and bases is they are backyard issues for members of Congress,” said Gordon Adams, a professor at American University who formerly served as associate director for national security and international affairs for the Office of Management and Budget. “It’s not like foreign aid. It’s about contracts in my district, contributors to my election campaign, things that directly affect my prospects of staying in office and my ability to say to my constituents, ‘I got one for you!’ That’s the heart of a weapons decision.”
In other news…
Although the number of such attacks had declined significantly and is at its lowest level since 2003 and 2004, in recent weeks, there have been some dramatic attacks against U.S. soldiers and civilians.