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 Saturday, Nov. 18

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

Editorial: Senate Republicans make bigger mess of tax bill

Senate Republicans are using repeal of an Obamacare mandate to win votes for their tax reform bill.

Schwab: At home and abroad, Trump sets low bar for ‘great’

His Asian trip made the U.S. a bit player on the world stage. And the play’s not any better at home.

Does low voter turnout point to apathy toward local politics?

The November voter turnout displayed either burnout or apathy. Either way this… Continue reading

Editorial cartoons for Friday, Nov. 17

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

Gerson: When lies become routine, corruption follows

We are witnessing what happens when conservatives become untethered from morality and religion.

Milbank: Truth is now out — ‘Bernie Bernstein’ broke all scandals

From Watergate to Roy Moore, Bernie robocalled random numbers, offering payouts for false claims.

Ignatius: Saudi prince tries to limit damage from brash moves

The crown prince, known as MBS, is fighting corruption, but taking big chances to combat it.

Harrop: Dems shouldn’t fret over another Hillary investigation

Launching a new witch hunt against Clinton is a sure sign that the heat’s been turned up on Trump.

Most Read