The NATO-industrial complex – NATO – Salon.com

24 May

“The Pentagon and defense industry should be thankful,” wrote the magazine, “that politicians don’t make military-spending decisions based on public opinion.”

Missile-defense is one of the oldest boondoggles in defense spending. Now the goodies are being palmed off on NATO, to be paid for by US taxpayers. It’s like shoveling our tax dollars into a high-tech rabbit hole.

Uncertain defense budgets help fill in the context of industry’s push to expand missile defense under the NATO umbrella. In 2012, it is a lonely major transatlantic project on the defense-spending horizon. The new issue of NDIA’s magazine National Defense features an article lamenting the diminishing prospects of “shiny objects” in Allied budgets. “Some contractors might decide to wait for the good times to return,” editorializes the magazine, “but most others are going to be following the money to what is increasingly becoming industry’s more reliable cash cows: Maintenance, repairs and logistics support.”

The “cash cow” of maintenance may help pass the lean times, but it doesn’t launch research labs and production lines that can stay active indefinitely as can a sophisticated and essentially open-ended missile defense system. …

With NATO missile defense, it is the U.S. taxpayer picking up the tab. “A significant European role in financing [NATO missile defense] is unlikely in present circumstances,” says Ian Anthony, research coordinator for nuclear weapons and arms control at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. “I doubt if European countries could find the domestic political support for funding it.”

Give Americans enough information to meaningfully consider the question, and the American countries also have trouble finding domestic political support for multi-billion-dollar black hole programs like missile defense. Just days before the start of NATO’s summit, the Program for Public Consultation released the results of a poll that asked Americans about proposed cuts to the Defense budget. … As for missile defense, 64 percent of respondents (including 55 percent of Republicans) supported the following argument:

“After 28 years of research and spending $150 billion, national missile defense systems have largely failed to work, even in tests conducted in ideal conditions. And even if we succeeded with missile defense, it is not relevant to the most likely nuclear threats today.”

Defense Weekly noted the results with a simple and comforting thought. “The Pentagon and defense industry should be thankful,” wrote the magazine, “that politicians don’t make military-spending decisions based on public opinion.”

via The NATO-industrial complex – NATO – Salon.com.

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