Just say no to more tanks

Just when everything seems pretty dire, with all the sequester talk, and budget cutback woes, comes the kind of news that stops you in your tracks, with the force, say, of walking into an armored tank. Followed by a bruising headache.

While most people are aware of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1961 speech about the rise of the military-industrial complex, it unfortunately seems to have served as a blueprint, rather than a dire warning.

In the latest, most blatant example, the Associated Press this week reported that lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams tank, despite senior Army officials repeatedly saying they don’t need or want it. Nevertheless, there’s a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed, AP reports.

But what the Army says doesn’t matter; don’t let the facts get in the way of the tank-building business. It turns out the nation’s only tank plant is in Lima, Ohio. AP reports: “So it’s no coincidence that the champions for more tanks are Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Rob Portman, two of Capitol’s Hill most prominent deficit hawks, as well as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. They said their support is rooted in protecting national security, not in pork-barrel politics.”

Of course their support is really rooted in the good-paying jobs associated with tank building, an economy created through the intertwining of industry, and federal and local governments. To wit: The facility is owned by the federal government but operated by the land systems division of General Dynamics, a major defense contractor that spent close to $11 million last year on lobbying, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, AP reports.

Here’s part of what Gen. Eisenhower said in 1961: “This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

At the very least then, when the Army’s experts say they don’t need another million-dollar tank, let’s believe them.

More in Opinion

Editorial: Yet another owner for The Everett Clinic

After its brief time with DaVita, uncertainty returns for the clinic with its sale to an insurer.

Editorial cartoons for Sunday, Dec. 10

A sketchy look at the day in politics.… Continue reading

Viewpoints: Trump’s monumental mistake

The power to abolish or shrink monuments rests with Congress, not the president.

Commentary: How to begin to bridge the divide on immigration

Right and left need to step back from inaccuracies and entrenched positions to find agreement.

Commentary: Action needed now to make 2020 census count

The Census Bureau is lacking leadership and funding necessary to prepare for it.

Parker: Contrasts in how parties dealt with Franken, Moore

The Democrats sacrificed their bad actor; the Republicans are fully backing theirs.

Editorial cartoons for Saturday, Dec. 9

A sketchy look at the day in politics.… Continue reading

Robinson: Trump’s mutation of the Party of Lincoln is complete

If Roy Moore’s alleged grooming of teenagers can be ignored, then so too can Mueller’s investigation.

Petri: Questions to help clarify what is and isn’t a monument

If a bunch of white dudes are standing around it with torches, then it’s a cherished monument.

Most Read