National defense is one of the most important and most legitimate functions of our federal government, and I have great respect for those who serve or have served in the military.
Both sides of the aisle are afraid to criticize the Pentagon or vote against any defense spending, no matter how high, for fear of appearing to be unpatriotic. However, it really is unpatriotic to never question or oppose unbelievably wasteful spending just because it is being done by the Defense Department.
We are now spending more on defense than all other nations combined, and those who believe in world government are seeing it in action through this Department.
Because it is so unpopular today to criticize even wasteful spending by the Defense Department, a December 1, 2008, column by Vice Admiral Jack Shanahan was almost amazing. Admiral Shanahan is the former commander of the U.S. Second Fleet. He wrote:
“Our government is sinking $700 billion in taxpayer dollars into a system riddled with waste, and often incapable of tracking where the money goes. No, I’m not talking about Wall Street. The teetering enterprise in question is actually the Pentagon. The U.S. defense establishment is in dire need of a rescue. But unlike Wall Street, where we threw billions of dollars at the problem, a Pentagon bailout requires taking money away - and fast.”
The only thing I would add is that we are spending more than $700 billion a year now when you count not only the regular appropriation, but also emergency, supplemental and omnibus appropriations, and military construction appropriations, which are all in separate bills.
Admiral Shanahan said the Defense Department’s “culture of easy money and no accountability eventually endangers us all.”
The main reason that defense costs have exploded so much in recent years is that almost all federal contracts - defense and non-defense - are sweetheart, insider deals given to firms that employ former government employees.
A GAO study found that in 2006, 52 contractors employed 2,435 former generals, admirals and high-ranking Defense Department employees. Two-thirds were hired by SAIC, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed-Martin, Booz Allen Hamilton, L3 Communications, General Dynamics, and Raytheon.
This is also why there is so much pressure to keep expanding the mission of the Defense Department from one of national defense to doing anything and everything around the world. It is all more about money and power than it is about real threats to the U.S.