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 cartoons for Thursday, Jan. 18

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

Sen. John McCain: Trump’s ‘fake news’ charges threaten democracy

The “fake news” phrase — granted legitimacy by a U.S. president — provides cover to autocrats worldwide.

Editorial: Eminent domain isn’t popular, but it’s fair

Everett Public Schools’ condemnation process assures fairness for property owners and taxpayers.

Parker: Looking past ‘holes’ and ‘heaps’ to talk immigration

Do race and culture matter? Or should immigration be about the yearning for liberty in all hearts?

Milbank: Trump Cabinet chief sidesteps Trump’s ‘shithole’ talk

Even GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham wonders what happened to Trump on the span of three days.

Unhelpful for John Rosemond to deny mental health issues

As a parent who had to watch her child suffer from obsessive… Continue reading

We need to heed warning regarding nuclear weapons

Thank you for shedding light on the life’s work of Daniel Ellsberg… Continue reading

Homeowners should get price they ask for

I have been following the coverage on the Everett School District using… Continue reading

Editorial cartoons for Wednesday, Jan. 17

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

Most Read