Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tomgram: Frida Berrigan, How the Pentagon Stole the Future

Just this week, the Bush administration is considering making a little futuristic news. The President might soon approve "a major step forward in the building of the country's first new nuclear warhead in nearly two decades," the Reliable Replacement Warhead. If only names were reality...

Critics are already claiming that the new "hybrid" design of the weapon, now planned to come on-line in 2012, will raise safety and other questions (and may someday lead to the resumption of underground nuclear testing). In other words, peering into our nuclear future, it's possible to imagine that -- to the tune of an estimated $100 billion -- the crucial word is likely to be "proliferation."

In fact, the future, as the military sees it, is simply filled to the brim with multibillion dollar American weapons systems of a sort that were once relegated to sci-fi novels for spacey boys. Now, they are the property of spacey generals, strategists, military planners, and corporate CEOs. Just a week ago, the Bush administration presented a supplemental military budget of nearly $100 billion to Congress to cover our ongoing disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as to replace equipment lost or worn out in both. But evidently Air Force officials, in a "feeding frenzy," just couldn't resist slipping in a futuristic ringer -- the funding, according to Jonathan Karp of the Wall Street Journal, for two of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, a high-tech plane still in development.

By the way, as Richard Cummings points out in a stunning recent piece on Lockheed in Playboy, Dick Cheney's son-in-law, Philip J. Perry, is a registered Lockheed lobbyist and his wife Lynne was on Lockheed's board until he became Vice President. On settling into Washington, George Bush appointed Lockheed's President and CEO Robert J. Stevens to his Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry. "Albert Smith, Lockheed's executive vice president for integrated systems and solutions, was appointed to the Defense Science Board. Bush had appointed former Lockheed chief operating officer Peter B. Teets as undersecretary of the Air Force and director of the National Reconnaissance Office," and that was just the beginning as the military-industrial revolving door spun wildly and the corporation made money hand over fist.

This month Tomdispatch is focusing special attention on the Pentagon, militarization, and the imperial path. Sunday, Nick Turse laid out Pentagon plans to fight crucial future battles in Baghdad 2025 and the mega-slums of other global cities. Today, Frida Berrigan of the Arms Trade Resource Center and a regular writer for this website, considers a range of weapons systems slated to come our way somewhere between tomorrow and 2040. If that's not ownership of the future, what is? Next week, stay tuned for a Michael Klare series on the militarization of energy policy. Tom

Raptors, Robots, and Rods from God

The Nightmare Weaponry of Our Future
By Frida Berrigan

We are not winning the war on terrorism (and would not be even if we knew what victory looked like) or the war in Iraq. Our track record in Afghanistan, as well as in the allied "war" on drugs, is hardly better. Yet the Pentagon is hard at work, spending your money, planning and preparing for future conflicts of every imaginable sort. From wars in space to sci-fi battlescapes without soldiers, scenarios are being scripted and weaponry prepared, largely out of public view, which ensures not future victories, but limitless spending that Americans can ill-afford now or twenty years from now.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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