In Focus Report Probes Way Weapons
Pork Barrel Politics to Continue Under Livingston
In "The Military-Industrial Complex Revisited: How Weapons Makers are Shaping U.S. Foreign and Military Policies," author William Hartung declares, "On issue after issue - from expanding NATO, to deploying the Star Wars missile defense system, to rolling back restrictions on arms sales to repressive regimes - the arms industry has launched a concerted lobbying campaign aimed at increasing military spending and arms exports. These initiatives are driven by profit and pork barrel politics, not by an objective assessment of how best to defend the United States in a post-cold war period."
Take for instance, Congressional "Add-ons" to the 1999 Military budget above and beyond what the Pentagon requested - totaling more than $9 billion dollars. This military pork fattens the defense dollars following to key congressional districts and pads the wallets of weapons makers, including Lockheed Martin. In addition Congressional members get fat from defense industry campaign contributions. Hartung reports, "From 1991 to 1997, defense companies made more political donations than the tobacco lobby by a margin of $32.3 million to $26.9 million."
Hartung argues, "The best way to fight back the arms lobby's (and Congressional pork barrel politicians') new push for increases in military spending and arms exports subsidies is by promoting an alternative strategy for preventing conflict and limiting the violence levels." In outlining three main components of a preventive strategy, non-proliferation, institution building, and shifting priorities, Hartung concludes, "Until we learn to plan for peace rather than for war, the arms makers and military hawks will always have the upper hand in debates about how to use our common resources."
William D. Hartung is a Senior Research Fellow at the World Policy Institute at the New School for Social Research.
For further information or to obtain copies of The Military-Industrial Complex Revisited, please contact Meena Bhandari at IPS.
Copyright © 1996. The Light Party.
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