Red Scare Translates to Big Bucks in D.C.

November 16, 2010

I’ve written about this before, so I’ll try to be brief as possible. The military-industrial complex in D.C. constantly needs an enemy out there to justify greater and greater defense expenditures. Huge amounts of money are being siphoned off the US economy in the interests of keeping the country safe. I’m skeptical of course that Americans are getting a good deal from this industry.

Anyway, the terrorism thing was good for some of these military contractors for a few years, but for the high-tech, big-dollar, big-research programs, some guys living in caves in Somewhereistan with AK-47s and Stinger missiles just doesn’t cut it as a sufficient threat. They need a bigger bogeyman, and China is the only one left standing.

Meet the new head of the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee:

Howard P. "Buck" McKeon

The House Armed Services Committee’s top Republican said he favors shifting defense dollars to boost U.S. missile defense and to counter China’s ability to limit U.S. operations in the western Pacific.

“While China today may not intend to attack our carriers, neutralize our bases in Japan and Guam, or push back our naval presence out of the South China Sea, they are without question making the investments and developing capabilities to do just that,” California Representative Howard McKeon told a meeting sponsored by the Washington-based Foreign Policy Initiative research group today.

“The question is whether we will be ready and capable to respond,” said McKeon, who is line to lead the armed services panel when Republicans take control of the House next year. “I view it as the responsibility of the Armed Services Committee to shift funds to higher national-security priorities and promising technologies such as missile defense” and efforts to counter China’s “anti-access” threat.

What’s the point of all this? McKeon wants the US to spend more money on these programs.

“One percent real growth over the next five years is a net cut for investment and procurement accounts,” he said. “A defense-budget decline portends an America in decline.”

Some would argue that huge defense spending that takes away from domestic economic needs portends an America in decline, but that’s a topic for another day.

So you might be saying, well, China is spending more and more money on defense, so the US needs to do so as well. They might be a threat in the future, and McKeon is just being prudent.

To which I respond, “bullshit.”

Consider this:

Increased missile defense and “anti-access” military spending could benefit companies that make sea-based missile defense and electronic warfare systems, such as Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed, Waltham, Massachusetts-based Raytheon, and Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman Corp., said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Virginia.

Also standing to gain are ship and submarine makers Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics Corp.

And then, just for fun, let’s take a look at the sources of funding for Congressman McKeon’s last campaign. According to OpenSecrets.org, McKeon’s top three contributors are: Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing Co. The top industries he receives funding from include: Defense Aerospace (#1), Misc. Defense (#2), and Defense Electronics (#4).

Yep. The man’s just an honest patriot looking to keep the American people safe from the China threat. Aren’t you glad he’s the new guy in charge of defense spending in the House? Whatever the actual threat from China really is, I don’t trust a word coming out of McKeon’s mouth on the subject.