(eng)Trillion-Dollar Pentagon Contract (fwd)

The Anarchives (tao@lglobal.com)
Fri, 22 Nov 1996 17:06:15 +0000 (GMT)


TAO Note: Workers World isn't the greatest source of news in the world,
but they may be better than the capitalist press so... read with
appropriate caution:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 21 Nov 96 11:17:45 CST
From: Workers World <ww@wwpublish.com>
To: tao@LGLOBAL.COM
Subject: Trillion-Dollar Pentagon Contract

-------------------------
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Nov. 28, 1996
issue of Workers World newspaper
-------------------------

A TRILLION DOLLARS TO BUILD WAR PLANES
Pentagon awash in cash as social services are cut

By Deirdre Griswold

How can they explain this one away?

At a time when the capitalist government is cutting social
programs and casting the poor out into the tempest, it is
also going merrily along with plans to award the biggest
military contract in history.

On Nov. 16, the Pentagon announced that McDonnell Douglas
had been dropped from the bidding to build the Joint Strike
Fighter. That narrows the competition down to two companies:
Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

The Joint Strike Fighter has been described as the
airplane program of the century. It is to be a multi-purpose
airplane meant to serve the needs of the Marines, Navy and
Air Force.

The government plans to award the lucky winning company a
contract to build 3,000 planes at a cost now estimated at
$30 million each.

That means almost $100 billion just in the initial
contract.

As staggering as that sum is, there is much more.

A MILLION MILLIONS

Back on March 12, the New York Times reported on its front
page that Wall Street believed that "over the life of the
project, the fighter could rack up sales of more than $750
billion, including spare parts and foreign sales, and some
industry executives talk of a total value surpassing $1
trillion."

Not a million. Not a billion.

A trillion dollars.

That's a thousand billions. Or a million millions.

The final contract is to be awarded in the year 2001. The
first plane is to roll off the assembly line in 2005.

The Pentagon plans ahead. It knows it can count on a
docile Congress and president to approve the giant defense
budgets needed to bring this project online.

What social force could challenge this monstrous growth of
the military-industrial complex? The only thing that could
upset their applecart would be workers intervening en masse
to defend social services--and only a militant intervention
would force the capitalist establishment to rethink its
grandiose schemes.

As it is, this extravagant project will go on-line at the
same time that demands to balance the budget will reduce
social services even further.

AS SOCIAL SERVICES ARE AXED

What other government department can count on funding for
10, 20 and even 30 years into the future?

Can the Education Department work out a plan to improve
schools so every child is exposed early to all the new
technology now being introduced?

Can Health and Human Services plan to eliminate
preventable diseases like tuberculosis over the next decade,
make sure every child born in the new millennium gets shots
and checkups, and vow that no stone will be left unturned in
finding a cure for AIDS?

The sad truth is these departments don't even know if
they'll exist a few years down the line. Public education is
itself in jeopardy, as is the Department of Education.

According to Office of Management and Budget figures
analyzed by the Center for Defense Information, the Clinton
administration's proposed military budget for the 1997
fiscal year represents 51 percent--more than half--of all
"discretionary spending." That's the money that the
president and Congress agree to spend each year.

And this 51 percent doesn't even count veterans' programs
and other military-related spending.

The rest of the budget goes to "mandatory spending." This
includes not only entitlements like Social Security and
Medicare but also interest payments on the national debt.

So even before the bill for these new planes comes due,
more than half of available federal funds are being funneled
into the maw of the military-industrial-financial complex.

Is it any wonder that life is becoming ever more harsh and
insecure for tens of millions?

WHERE'S THE THREAT?

The big question, of course, is why these planes are to be
built. Who is the enemy? Where is the threat?

The Pentagon has laid out detailed battle plans to "take
out" the countries it has defined as its most likely
adversaries--north Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Cuba.
But add up the military budgets of all these countries, and
the Pentagon still spends 17 times more.

Not one of them has carried out a military operation
against U.S. territory. The United States has intervened
militarily against all of them--with the possible exception
of Syria, whose Golan Heights area is occupied by the
Pentagon's closest ally in the Middle East, Israel.

There was the Cold War--which from 1945-1991 cost the
people of this country $13.1 trillion in today's dollars,
according to the Center for Defense Information. It was
supposed to "liberate" the people of the Soviet Union and
Eastern Europe from "Communist oppression."

The Cold War is now over. The working people of that area
are reeling as rapacious capitalism tears apart the fabric
of their social institutions. But there is still no "peace
dividend."

Now comes news that a contract to build Ronald Reagan's
weird "Star Wars" laser system--designed to shoot down
ballistic missiles--has just been award ed to a team of
Boeing, Lockheed Martin and TRW. This plum could be worth $5
billion by 2003, according to a report in the Nov. 13 Wall
Street Journal.

Lockheed Martin also got a $1.8-billion contract to
develop a related satellite system to detect missile
launches.

So the question remains, who is the enemy?

It's easy to see how the capitalist industries and banks
that profit so magnificently from these weapons systems are
the enemies of working people all over the world--from Iraq
to Cuba, from Korea to Russia--who are in the Pentagon's gun
sights.

But what about workers here? What about the old argument
that generous government military contracts bring much-
needed jobs and pump up the economy?

THE THREAT IS HERE

The truth is that the class of war profiteers is the
biggest enemy of U.S. workers, too.

On Nov. 18, Lockheed Martin made an announcement. It came
right after the firm won the $1.8-billion satellite-system
contract and part of the $1.1-billion to $5-billion laser-
system contract--and was confirmed to be in the running for
the $750-million to $1-trillion Joint Strike Force contract.

Lockheed Martin announced it will cut 1,600 jobs and close
eight facilities.

The government will actually pay Lockheed for cutting
these jobs. In a Defense Department program okayed by the
last Congress, Lockheed will get $1.6 billion in special tax
breaks. The gift--dubbed "payoffs for layoffs"--is to help
the military contractor cover severance pay, pension
buyouts, and so on.

The job cuts and plant closings complete the consolidation
of operations after acquiring the Loral Corp. last spring,
said Lockheed Martin executives. The company's stock rose
immediately after the Nov. 18 announcement.

What better defines the prospects ahead for the working
class in this country? What better illustrates the need for
a struggle not just against this or that political grouping
but against the capitalist system itself?

- END -

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