Common Sense vs. the Military-Industrial-Political-Complex on the Floor of the US House Today

The more things change at the polls, the more they apparently stay
the same in Congress. The Defense bill that the House Armed Services
Committee is presenting today on the House floor is the first
opportunity for this Democratic Congress to turn the page on the Bush
administration's disastrous approach to national defense. Instead, it
is poised to authorize more of the same, or worse.

For starters, the Democratically-controlled House Armed Services
Committee (on which I once served) will authorize billions of dollars
MORE for the national defense budget than George W. Bush ever requested
from Congress. That's right-the Democrats want more military spending than George W. Bush ever thought necessary.

Turns out that the Defense bill Congress takes up today is less about
meeting the national defense needs of the United States and more about
meeting the pork-barrel political needs of Washington politicians. Or,
as Yogi Berra would put it: "It's Deja Vu all over again!"

Take the F-22 fighter jet, for example. It's what I like to call the
"plane-to-nowhere". Much like the heralded bridge in Alaska, the plane
is an embarrassing waste of federal money at a time when providing
health care security for all Americans is being called "unrealistic".
It was designed to fight an enemy that no longer exists, the Soviet
Union. We now have 187 of them, and that's 187 too many when comes to
fighting actual wars. Not one of them flew in either Iraq or
Afghanistan because commanders found them totally useless.

No sooner had Secretary of Defense Gates announced that it's time to
cancel, that the military-industrial-political complex, and their
massive lobbying and public relations machine, went into action. The
Democratically controlled House, all too willing to cave to that
pressure, decided to use today's Defense Authorization bill to
authorize 12 new planes not requested by the Pentagon at a cost that will ultimately exceed $2 billion.

This one was actually easy to see coming: The F-22 is a classic example of expert design. That is, expert political
design. The production of the F-22 has been spread out over forty
states making it as wasteful and inefficient economically as it is
highly productive politically. Before the very first week of the new
Congress ended, two hundred House members had already signed a letter
calling for more of these planes-to-nowhere to be built. Almost all of
them had a piece of the plane being built in their Congressional

Of course, the Iraq war has wreaked havoc on our soldiers. They've been
forced into back-to-back deployments with less and less recovery time
in between, and when their commitments are up, they've been forced to
continue military service whether they wanted to or not. So, what to

How about resolving that the US is going to repudiate the Bush Doctrine
that made the U.S. not only the world's policeman, but the world's
military dictator, accountable only to itself? How about reducing the
demand on our overstretched and broken Army by declaring no more
unilateral invasions of countries that pose no threat, that we will
respect international law, will engage in military actions only as a
last resort and will work through the international institutions that
we led the way to create, like the United Nations Security Council?


Secretary Gates took the supply side approach, spiking the size of
the U.S. Armed Forces by 65,000 over two years to 547,000. And the
approach of the Democratically-controlled House Armed Services
Committee? Check and balance, maybe? Nope again. The House Armed
Services Committee decided to do one better than Secretary Gates. Or
rather, 30,000 better-calling for that much of an increase in the size
of the U.S. military above and beyond the just-completed increase the
Defense Secretary has said was sufficient. That's right: the
Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee want to give the U.S.
military 30,000 troops that it says it doesn't want or need!

I hope someone asks in the floor debate today how many new Iraq-style
adventures we are preparing for with this massive increase in troop

Congressman Jim McGovern will try to squeeze a bit of common sense into
the bill with a floor amendment that actually calls for what the
President told a national television audience that the US needs: an
exit strategy from the war in Afghanistan. So far, he has been able to
collect 89 co-sponsors for his bill. The Win Without War coalition has
been working closely with Congressman McGovern and other Congressional
allies on this important amendment. Coalition member and allied
organizations have stepped up:, USAction/,
Peace Action and United for Peace and Justice all sent alerts last week
to their membership asking them to call Members of Congress in support
of this bill. With any luck they will, increasing pressure on Congress
to provide a badly needed check and balance to a very imbalanced
defense bill.

So, today on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, the
so-called "People's House", it is common sense vs. the
Military-Industrial-Political-Complex. Call your House member today at
(202) 224-3121 and demand that he or she help the underdog. Who knows,
maybe then other underdogs like a health care system that is worthy of
the name will have a fighting chance.

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