Plenty of Money for Warplanes

What golden idols are we making and worshiping today?

W.J. Astore

Even as Congress fights over a few billion dollars for the 9/11 first responders, there’s no shortage of money for warplanes.  This week the Pentagon announced the largest military procurement deal in history: $34 billion for 478 F-35 warplanes.  This decision comes despite the less-than-stellar performance of the F-35.

How can we forget the suffering of 9/11 first responders yet continue to buy overpriced jets at mind-boggling prices?  Sometimes I think we worship weapons as a golden idol.  People get so excited about them – almost as if they “own” their own personal F-35.  What can these warplanes do for us except blow things up?  Who’s going to attack the U.S. with a vast air fleet such that we need all these planes for “defense”?

The other day, I was reading old reporting from World War II (in the Library of America series).  There was an article on war rationing and how Americans were fighting for more gasoline for their personal cars.  And a war ration board member referenced the amount of gas a bomber needed just to warm up its engines as the reason why ordinary Americans had to ration gas.

Imagine if Americans today had to ration gas so that our F-35s and stealth bombers could fly.  Imagine if you couldn’t go on your summer vacation because you couldn’t get the gas due to the war on terror or the gas-guzzling appetites of B-52s and Navy jets operating near Iran.

Americans might actually pay attention to our foreign wars!  They might begin to question why they couldn’t get gas for their cars, trucks, boats, and campers because of Iran deployments or Afghan operations or what-have-you.

But unlike in World War II, today we are asked to make no sacrifices.  None.  Only our tax dollars — and our collective futures.

10 thoughts on “Plenty of Money for Warplanes

  1. be careful dear William, what exactly are you wishing for ?

    your strategies for American prosperity is to do what ?
    are you really sure you will personally feel so much better if all of your advice was actually accomplished ?

    or would our collective sins be washed away permanently if we all became enlightened philosophers ?

    current events are looking quite biblical, no ? it looks like i was more than a bit wrong about iranian iq. do you suppose we could get sean penn to do his human shield impersonation again ? would even a knuckle dragger like me have less scabs after iran goes nuclear ?

    ( and yes, there are a lot of us out here who agree we should help the iranians go back to the 7th century … with extreme prejudice )


    1. OG: Remember when the Iranians were our big friends in the region? I do. Especially in the 1970s. We were selling them everything from our arsenal of democracy, including F-14 Tomcat fighters and HAWK missile batteries. Then came the Iranian Revolution and all of a sudden they were our enemies.

      When I was in engineering school in the early 1980s, I remember a few students from Iran. Refugees from the revolution. They were ordinary people, just like you and me.

      Persia was a great and sophisticated empire long before the USA existed, so I’d be careful trying to send them back to the deep past …

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Old Geyser:

      I once got detailed to do a little of that extremely prejudicial “helping” thing in Southeast Asia. As part of my training, I had to read US counter-insurgency manuals about “winning their hearts and minds.” A bit uncertain about how to go about doing that with an M-16 rifle in my hand, my instructors translated the military gobbledegook into plain English for me: “Just grab ’em by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow.” I tried to visualize myself chasing these little Asian rice farmers around, shooting at them while grabbing at their crotches to get at their hearts and minds, but I found the image too ludicrous to take seriously. Needless to say, I didn’t make a very good prejudicial helper.

      Decades have flown past now, and yet in my advancing age I see another generation of US military morons chasing Afghan poppy farmers up and down the foothills of the Hindu Kush, shooting at them and grabbing at their crotches thinking that they might find hearts and minds located there.

      Now, looking at all this institutionalized American insanity, why would a civilized Persian want to join the US, Sordid Arabia, and the Apartheid Zionist Entity in the 7th century when just waiting a year will see these plagues upon humanity making it back to the 6th? If I had to place a bet, I’d wager on the Iranians politely declining America’s “offered” (meaning, threatened) prejudicial help and instead joining up with the Russians and Chinese in their 21st century Eurasian-integration program financed in their own currencies. I feel pretty sure that — unlike the American military — the civilized world knows where to find their own hearts and minds: most definitely not between their legs.


    3. You’ve been played for a fool, Geezer. You shouldn’t believe everything you read in the American media. Iran doesn’t have, and was never even close to acquiring, nuclear weapons. The “nuclear threat” is fake news and Iran signed the JCPOA aka the nuclear deal because it wanted to prove that it does not have nuclear ambitions and that it can play nice with the west. And the deal was working very well. Until Trump, influenced no doubt by his bff Netanyahu, ripped it up and hired himself some neocon attack dogs who have been cajoling, threatening and provoking Iran ever since.

      Now if I were the leader of Iran, I would be thinking, “damn, should have nuked up when we had the chance. Who knew the Americans were going to lose their minds and go rogue.”

      Fact is, the current problems with Iran are 100% Made in the USA.


  2. remarkable, answering with one of the most demonstrably false platitudes uttered, deep down everyone is the same. no they obviously are not. if anyone is unable to see that, it is because they consciously refuse to.

    to directly answer if i have a memory, yes. i remember iranian ex pats saying “ the shaw has got to go “.

    the fascinating thing is i never see you formulating a way forward that can work. why is it that each matter you propose demonstrably makes the country weaker ? if we follow the counsel you recommend we lose the country.

    after seeing similar events play out time after time with the next set of current details, some one like me starts to think losing the country is the objective. it was for those university professors from frankfurt. they thought very analytically about how to do it. is it really just a coincidence ?


    1. OG: How am I advocating for a “weaker” country? I believe we’re stronger when we avoid wasteful, counterproductive wars, e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam. I believe we’re stronger when we spend less on “defense” and more on what matters to true security, e.g. better roads and bridges, more affordable health care, more rigorous education for our youth.

      If you think strength is measured by wars and weapons and smacking down “enemies” like Iran, this is not the site for you.

      And, yes, those young Iranian students I met in 1981-2 were much like me. Most ordinary people don’t want war. They don’t want to spend billions on weapons. They just want to live their lives in a sane and safe way. I don’t think this is simply a “platitude.” Stop listening to the warmongers, OG. Start looking for new ways forward that don’t involve killing people in the name of being “strong.”


    2. Lose the country? You seem to have little faith in our nation or your fellow citizens if many expensive play things are done away with along with the noxious ideas that try to put them in play. War destroys nations, in victory (or stalemate) as well as defeat.


  3. I caught a Free Iranian Air Force Flt. back to McGuire A.F.B. MAC Headquarters N.J. from Overseas back in the day when the Shah was still in Power circa. 1974. My Wife back then and I were treated like Royalty, and were even invited into the Cockpit with their Families also on board. An experience over the Ocean I’ll never forget. Of course they were our Ally’s then. Now on Facebook present day through my love of science & astronomy I have even more Iranian Friends who’ve even invited me to visit Iran, and even tell me about their corrupt Gov’t, and I even mention ours as well. Seems when all is lost is when we need to double down and see if we can find some of that common ground we used to have back then and may still– if we only try…!


  4. I’ve got another take on that “extremely prejudicial helping thing” that our rear-echelon commando, Old Geyser, celebrates. You know, like those timid twerps of the Deputy Dubya Bush administration, hiding out in the Green Zone swilling Cokes and boasting: “Anyone can go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.” To my knowledge, not a one of them has ever triumphantly marched into the Iranian capital. So much for “real American men.”

    As an experienced American “prejudicial helper” (Southeast Asia 1970-72) I had — and still have — a rather bitter understanding of Richard Nixon’s notorious “Peace With Honor” slogan, which to me always conjured up (as it still does) associations with the nine Medieval Christian Crusades, now (since 1948) in their Tenth — and this time, Judeo/Christian — incarnation. As my principal illustrative image I keep in mind the walking-dead lepers who made the most fearsome Crusaders because not only did they bring death with their weaponry, but also with their own frightening disease as well. So I have no trouble imagining how the invading US/UK/NATO/Zionist military crusaders look to the native populations of the Middle East. Instead of “help” they see …

    Peace With Horror

    A leper knight rode into view
    Astride his mangy steed
    A harbinger of violence
    A plague without a need
    An apparition of discord
    Upon which fear would feed

    His unannounced arrival meant
    He’d lost his leper’s bell
    And yet his ugly innocence
    Could not conceal the smell
    His good intentions only paved
    Another road to Hell

    With mace and lance and sword deployed
    He vowed in peace to live
    Through rotting lips he promised not
    To take, but only give
    He swore to only kill the ones
    Whom he said shouldn’t live

    He did not speak the language and
    He did not know the land
    So why the healthy shrank from him
    He could not understand
    Why did they want the water when
    He’d offered them the sand?

    Committing to commitments he
    Committed crimes galore
    As steadfast in his loyalties
    As any purchased whore
    A mercenary madman like
    His slogan: “Peace through War”

    His slaying for salvation masked
    An inner, grasping greed
    A lust for living good and well
    While looking past his deed
    A dead man walking wakefully;
    A graveyard gone to seed

    He planned to leave in “phases,” so
    He said to those back home
    Who’d heard some nasty rumors rife
    From Babylon to Rome
    Of murders in their name meant to
    Exalt their sacred tome

    But still he needed to “protect”
    Some pilgrims on the road
    Who for “protection” glumly paid
    A portion of their load:
    For this decaying derelict,
    An object episode

    When asked to give a summary
    Of what he had achieved
    He shifted to the future tense
    The gains that he perceived
    And spoke in the subjunctive mood
    To those he had aggrieved

    “The future life to come portends
    More suffering than now.
    Through me alone can you avoid
    What I will disavow:
    The promises I never made
    While making, anyhow.”

    “I unsay things that I have said
    And say I never did;
    Then say them once again to pound
    The meaning deeply hid,
    Down where the lizard lives between
    The ego and the id.”

    “I’ve given you catastrophe
    And called it a success;
    If you want other outcomes then
    Step forward and confess
    That you believed a pack of lies
    With no strain, sweat, or stress.”

    “You know the meaning of my words
    Lasts only just as long
    As sound takes to decay in air
    So that you take them wrong
    If you assign significance
    To my sly siren song.”

    “A ‘propaganda catapult’
    I’ve called myself, in fact;
    A damning human document
    Which I myself redact
    At every opportunity
    With no concern for tact.”

    “If you think what I’ve done before
    Has caused me to repent
    Or dream that I, in any way,
    Might let up or relent
    Then I’ve got wars for you to buy,
    Or maybe just to rent.”

    “I’ve little time to live on earth,
    So why should I reflect
    Upon the dead and dying souls
    Whose lives I’ve robbed and wrecked?
    I care not if they hate, just that
    They know to genuflect.”

    Thus did the ruin of a world
    Continue in its curse;
    The great man on his horse relieved
    The faithful of their purse
    And gave them bad to save them from
    What they feared even worse

    So onward to Jerusalem
    He staggered as he slew
    In train with sack and booty that
    He only thought his due
    For spreading Freedom’s germs among
    The last surviving few

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2008

    Eleven years later, and I wouldn’t change a word of that.


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