Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Broken Windows

This week, Chuck Hagel made headlines as the second secdef under the same president to call for budget cuts at the DOD. So now everyone hates him, for the dumbest and most two-faced of reasons. Complaints focus on lies about how any cuts would translate into "standing down" - whatever possible meaning that could have in the context of irregular brush wars - and the usual noise about how we have to spend everything on defense because D-FENS and never mind how many Army and Air Force generals take off their uniforms after twenty or thirty years and go sit on the boards of Lockheed, Raytheon, and all the other welfare cases left over from the Cold War.

Except there's plenty to legitimately criticize in Hagel's budget. It keeps the F-35 billion dollar boondoggle but calls for retiring the good ol' A-10. The Hog has been the most reliable combat aircraft of the past decade, flying close air support in Iraq and Afghanistan with more success than even drones... But it's ugly and USAF brass are a bunch of dumb jocks who want to drive flashy cars and impress the girls. Really, "It's ugly" is the only criticism of the A-10 USAF pilots ever voice and the actual A-10 drivers love the thing. They swear by it and with good reason - the Hog doesn't just have the biggest gun in the sky, it can take the most punishment and still fly back home. One even made it back to base after a successful mission and losing a whole engine. Only the F-15, another solid Cold War design, can make a similar claim, having landed minus a whole wing.

So what can the F-35 do that the A-10 can't? Not a goddamn thing, unless you're a Republican congressman, then the F-35 is your own personal goldmine! Case in point, Michael Turner of Ohio's tenth district. The district that includes Dayton, home to both the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Meaning Turner's entire political career is wedded to USAF contracting, which generates around five billion in annual revenue for his constituency.

If Hagel's cuts go through, Michael Turner will directly suffer. Because "defense" is a racket in this country and a very profitable one to boot. If NASIC and AFRL see their operating budgets reduced, you can bet Turner will be out on his ass in November. Which he deserves, being a water carrier for the biggest scam operation in the world... But Dayton is also turning into a main production center for drones, which will likely get squeezed in the new budget so as to better feed the worthless F-35.

See, this is what's depressing about America. Hagel is right to want to shrink the military into a leaner, more agile force but he's going about it utterly wrong. And Turner is a scaremongering swine who is nonetheless defending one of the few weapon systems that would best serve Hagel's plans. It's oligarchs feuding over how best to soak the peasantry, with the final concerns being nothing more than self-perpetuation and scoring the best blow.

Basically, America is like Ukraine. Without the backbone.

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