Did 'Pork-Hawks' Compromise America's Readiness Against Terror?: News Releases: The Independent Institute

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News Release
September 14, 2001

Did “Pork-Hawks” Compromise America’s Readiness Against Terror?
Defense Spending Diverted Away from Counterterrorism by “Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex,” Says Noted Analyst

OAKLAND, Calif.—In the Fall 2001 issue of THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW—published before the deadly assaults in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.—the quarterly journal’s editor, Robert Higgs, criticizes the misallocation of defense spending away from efforts to address a 21st Century threat—terrorism—in favor of expensive, Cold War-era weapons systems.

“As George W. Bush’s administration took office in January 2001, you could almost hear the sighs of relief coming from the Pentagon and the corporate headquarters of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrup Grumman, Litton Industries, and other big defense contractors” writes Higgs.

While our nation reflects on the tragic events of September 11th, the journal’s publisher, The Independent Institute, shares the following excerpts from Higgs’ “Etceteras” column, “The Cold War Is Over, but U.S. Preparation for It Continues”:

*“As the preliminary maneuvering began, with an eye toward fiscal year (FY) 2003 and beyond, [Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld’s staff produced a plan to increase the weapons procurement budget by 42 percent over seven years, ‘with big increases for fighter jets, ballistic-missile defense, cargo planes and bombers’. Throughout the military-industrial-congressional complex (hereafter MICC), the pork-hawks preened their feathers and prepared to take flight.” (p. 287)

*After examining its history since the onset of the Cold War, Higgs concludes: “defense spending during the past several years [has] returned to the level of the Cold War norm.” Higgs then asks: “Given that the Cold War ended a decade ago, why is the defense establishment plowing ahead as if nothing had changed and even beginning to enlarge its bite on the taxpayer’s purse?” (p. 288)

*“Conduct a thought experiment: imagine that you are the czar of the U.S. defense program . . . . Would you choose to purchase and maintain more than a hundred ‘luxury jets used to fly generals and admirals,’ including seventy-one Learjets, thirteen Gulfstream IIIs, and seventeen Cessna Citations? How about ‘234 golf courses maintained by the U.S. armed forces worldwide’? Are such uses of resources consistent with the notion that the armed forces are making good use of the taxpayers’ money while dealing with life-and-death threats to U.S. national security?” (p. 294)

*“[Peacetime military spending] is driven by a combination of ideology (especially among the fleeced taxpayers) and the self-interest of the millions of people who populate the MICC, for whom jobs, career advancement, reelection to political office, and, above all, corporate profits turn on feeding more money into the maw of the MICC.” (p. 300)

*“If an enemy should decide to wage a different kind of war, however, such as really serious terrorism, the armed forces are not configured to deal with that kind of threat.” (p. 300)

*“[E]veryone appreciates that the public relations noises the Pentagon makes about antiterrorism activities are not intended to be taken seriously by those in the know. The system has no constituency for the nitty-gritty, low-tech activity that an effective antiterrorism program would call for, such as the maintenance of a massive global corps of unsavory informants on the ground; there’s no money in it for Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and the rest of the boys. But if you want to talk about a Star Wars system that stretches from here to Mars, hey, let’s talk!” (p. 301)


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