At the Pentagon, Nothing Succeeds Like Failure

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In the puzzle palace on the Potomac, nothing succeeds like failure

W.J. Astore

When it comes to the Pentagon, nothing succeeds like failure. That is the message of William Hartung’s latest article at TomDispatch.com. The Pentagon, Hartung notes, continues to receive massive funding from the American taxpayer, even as its various wars drag on, seemingly without end. Hartung, who wrote a book on Lockheed Martin and the military-industrial complex, has a knack for revealing the latest Pentagon follies. Even as you read his latest at TomDispatch.com, I’d like to add two more items to his list:

1. Washington Think Tanks: Perhaps you’ve heard of them, centers for thinking about national defense, hiring the best and the brightest to come up with disinterested recommendations to safeguard America. Ha!  A few days ago, The National Interest ran an article on what these think tanks were proposing, the “latest fashions in warfighting,” as the article’s title put it.  Please note there’s no “fashion” in peacemaking or war-ending.

Four out of the five think tanks featured in the article were in basic agreement. “Deterrence” had to be based on massive investments in offensive weaponry. There was much agreement as well on modernizing America’s nuclear arsenal, on the need to feature more drones and other unmanned platforms, on air power and power projection, as well as support for the wildly expensive F-35 jet fighter. In sum, more of the same at the Pentagon, only more.

One think tank, the Cato Institute, a Libertarian outfit, dared to depart from Pentagon orthodoxy. Cato called into question the Pentagon’s need for better nukes, prodigal jet fighters, and similar “sticker shock” items on the Pentagon’s wish list. This dissent drew a stinging rebuke from The National Interest, which suggested Cato had developed a defense plan for Canada rather than the great and powerful USA.

To that I say, tell me again what is wrong with Canada?

A question: If four out of five think tanks essentially agree with each other, are not at least three of them redundant?

2.  Forcing Soldiers to Pay Back Bonuses: Yes, you read that right. Even as the Pentagon spends nearly $750 billion a year, even as it avoids any semblance of an audit, U.S. troops who fought overseas are being forced to pay back bonuses that the Pentagon gave them, apparently by mistake (but also with some fraud involved on behalf of recruiters), at a time when the U.S. military was under duress to improve retention rates.

Let’s be clear: In accepting the bonuses, the individual troops were not at fault. They took the money in good faith from a military that patted them on the back for staying in. But now the military says, whoops, we were wrong, we want the money back.

In Pentagon terms, we’re not talking big money. We’re talking chump change.  It’s $15,000 here, $30,000 there. But of course it is big money to the troops and their families. Consider the stress of having government-sanctioned collection agencies on your tail. One soldier had to refinance his house to raise the money to repay an incentive bonus he’d accepted in good faith.

Here’s the kicker. In California, where these abuses and mistakes happened, the military “assigned 42 auditors to comb through paperwork for bonuses and other incentive payments given to 14,000 soldiers.”

Imagine that. The Pentagon can’t even hold an audit, let alone pass one, but it’s willing to hire a platoon of auditors to go after troops and their bonuses.

Here’s my recommendation: Let’s deploy an army of 42,000 auditors to comb through Pentagon paperwork for waste, fraud, and abuse. Let’s get our money back, America. And let’s stop thinking about “fashions” in “warfighting,” and instead dedicate ourselves to ending our wars — before they end us.

5 thoughts on “At the Pentagon, Nothing Succeeds Like Failure

  1. Simple… Never ending war means …never ending excessive profit for a few in the industrial military complex. Like curing cancer, it is never going to end as long as treasure is to be had from the dummies, the chumps, the lazy, deliberately clueless American electorate and absent without leave non-voting citizens shirking their responsibilities…..and so it goes and you better not hold your breath for change.

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  2. @ lib warrior-
    true that…
    the nub is: the idea of war-ending (or just about ANY large social justice issue) is pretty much dependent upon the dismantling of the current rapacious, unrestrained, krony kapitalist (excuse my affectation, not) economic ‘system’…
    (if ‘might-makes-right’ is a system)
    WHO -besides the couple of percent exposed to info/opinions like this- are going to ‘vote’ for the dismantling of Empire, er, oops, i mean, Free Market Economics (*harp glissando*) ? ? ? not sure where/when that ‘vote’ will be held, either…
    to that end, re-making an OPEN and TRUSTWORTHY electoral system for a small-dee democracy has the *chance* of saving us; but will NOT happen under the present political/social strictures… simply will not…
    for example, ranked choice (or instant runoff) voting methods would ABSOLUTELY give third/fourth/etc parties and candidates a real chance… EXACTLY why it will not happen when the one Korpoate Money Party controls both the smiley face (dem’rats) and frowny face (rethugs) of the ‘choice’ we are GIVEN…
    based on a true story…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No “Excuse” required. I concur.

      “the couple of percent exposed to info/opinions like this” _ Gawd! I wish it were that many, sadly, it is not. Place a 0, then a point, then maybe another 0, then number(s) of choice, and we are probably close to the actually number that give a shit. Because of that we are driving this off the edge, just a matter of time. At the end, an economic crisis of monumental proportions, driven by a enveloping irreversible environmental crisis will end our ability to resolve either situation and be the driver of our end. But, my solace is ‘That earth will abide’… Stewart

      “give third/fourth/etc parties and candidates a real chance…” Right on. For years, I have told my friends/family, that out only hope is taking and independent position and demanding our right to choice, without restrictions, empowering all to vote for the change we so desperately need, but the owners of the game, the phony conservatives and phony democrats, will, like Assad, use every means to retain power and ownership of us. And most of us will let them, believe the BS, and passively tow the line to their end.

      My generation(60’s) failed us, it did however build the blueprint for empowerment and our only hope is the youngsters who have the most to lose, to take that blueprint and use it effectively to achieve a viable solution that empowers all to take a holistic stake in our mutual community. But they have a monumental task that has to be addressed immediately.

      Do what you can, my friend, that is all we have.

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      1. @ lib warrior-
        in relation to your estimating it is more like .001% who are ‘aware’, etc, i would add there ARE a significant amount of people who DO believe *something* (if not *everything*) is fucked up… i work in an office which is about 99.99% fundie xtian/conservatard types… (guess who is the .01% ?), almost without exception, they think/believe/know we are on a bad, bad course…
        now, *some* few of them may *really* believe the end times bullshit, and that when the red heifer’s ashes are smeared on the zionist warriors re-taking the temple mount, that will be the beginning of the end… BUT, for the most part, they are sensible people, and they know -perhaps not in detail, not in high-falutin poltical terminology, not in total- that *something* ain’t right…
        whether they prescribe that to the correct root causes, is another issue (but -for that matter- how many stupid libtards ascribe the world’s woes to what are the real causes ?); whether they tend towards authoritarian solutions, is another problem… (that is a universal one with the 25% of authoritarians in the studio audience… Hi! Authoritarians, in the studio audience, don’t hate me ’cause i’m smart ! ! !)
        and t-rump’s supporters who effectively gave the rethug leadership the middle finger are definitely in that mold… again, whether they are shooting at the right targets or not, i don’t know; but at least they are shooting *up* ! ! !
        i would go so far as to say that MANY a reich-wing fucktard is INFINITELY more pissed off about the banksters looting and skating away with OUR monies than ineffectual libtards (whose leaders -most especially including killary- were INSTRUMENTAL in allowing the banksters to get away with it)…
        the key is uniting us 99% against the 1%; NOT promoting our relatively small differences on a small range of hot-button issues to divide us…
        YOU HAVE TO WORK WITH PEOPLE YOU DON’T ‘LIKE’ OR EVEN AGREE WITH ON OTHER ISSUES TO GET THE BIG ISSUES TAKEN CARE OF…

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      2. Like Assad? The “owners of the game” would do well (not in the sense that they consider “doing well”) to be more like Assad.

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