Minister Of Defense Peter MacKay Squanders Taxpayer Dollars In Hard Times

Posted on Monday, September 27 at 09:20 by robertjb

 

As Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires so too is it the graveyard of a hopelessly discredited NATO. So too is it the graveyard of defense ministers who are courtesans to the empire and who buy oversold war toys such as the F 35 that are totally inappropriate to our needs and hideously expensive in a time of economic austerity where economies are sagging and too many thousands are jobless.
 
Minister MacKay treats the Canadian electorate like local mushroom farmers treat their mushrooms; keep them in the dark and feed them bullshit. Nor is our national media doing Canadians any favors as the Globe and Mail publishes any number of inane reasons for the acquisition of this multi- billion dollar dinosaur that will be still-born seven years from now.
 
 Thanks do go to former civil servant and diplomat Mark Collins for his informative comments published in the National Post giving Canadians a primer as to what the F 35 is really all about. Collins also provides links to the New York Times and elsewhere and we see the F-35 is surrounded in controversy:  
 
Other nations have also debated the necessity of an aircraft as costly and sophisticated as the F-35. Opposition leaders in Denmark and the Netherlands are questioning whether they can afford to buy the plane at a time when their economies are under pressure. Lockheed, however, needs to hold onto the foreign sales to lower the cost of the planes. NYT July18th 2010.
 
Also from the New York Times:
 
The American defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, recently revamped the F-35 program and removed the general in charge, after the Pentagon’s projected costs soared 64 percent to $382 billion for 2,457 planes. The eight allies have invested a total of $4 billion in developing the plane and could buy hundreds of the planes through specific orders, most of which remain to be negotiated.
 
One of the most pertinent issues Collins raises is why Canada is not even considering the state of the art twin engine Super Hornet, successor to the CF-18 Hornet presently used by Canadian Forces. The Super hornet is already in use with the US Navy and is much less expensive than the F-35.
 
In more general terms Minister MacKay appears blissfully indifferent to related issues that need to be addressed.
 
Why are the US and other NATO countries spending over a trillion dollars a year on armaments when there is no real enemy?  The Cold War is in the distant past yet military spending continues at Cold War levels. The answer will no doubt be that the war on terrorism necessitates these expenditures but in fact the war on terrorism is really an overblown ruse to justify an out of control addiction to militarism and the American led pursuit of global hegemony.
 
The London based IISS ( International Institute for Strategic Studies) has just reached the long over due conclusion:
 
The threat posed by al-Qaida and the Taliban is exaggerated and the western-led counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan risks becoming a "long, drawn-out disaster", one of the world's leading security thinktanks warned today.
 
            The IISS is still being coy as it should have stated decisively Afghanistan is a "long, drawn-out disaster", by any standard.
 
Minister MacKay et al must ultimately address the fact that military spending now takes the form of corporate welfarism where military needs, capabilities and appropriate weaponry are not assessed objectively but dictated by the profit margins of arms manufacturers, megalomaniacal military lobbyists, and pork barrelling politicians who see militarism as handy job creation programs.
 
The problem with these handy job creation programs is that we end up in a state of continuous warfare, as we are now, and we are assured this will be the norm for some time to come. The cost of excessive military spending is compounded by the costs of conducting consequent warfare. Politicians then have the gall to question the cost of social services as military excesses race out of control responding to “exaggerated” threats with failed strategies, and inappropriate armaments.          
 
Minister MacKay is not really so concerned with buying the best possible equipment as he claims but is practicing the Harper government’s usual blind obedience to Washington’s every wish. Where the claim is made these aircraft are necessary to defend our sovereignty their acquisition is actually an abdication of sovereignty as the Minister of Defense can not make a cogent argument for the acquisition of these aircraft when there are clearly other alternatives that should be explored. The very fact that delivery of these aircraft will not begin until 2017 means the government is buying a pig in a poke, and an aircraft totally irrelevant to our needs at that time.
 
The US is in the process of finalizing an arms sale to Saudi Arabia in the amount of 60 billion dollars, said to be the single largest arms sale ever. This ominous oil-for-arms quid pro quo leaves Saudi Arabia armed out of all proportion to its national needs and America further addicted to its glutinous appetite for oil and compulsive military spending.
 
Both and Canada and Saudi Arabia feel some mad compulsion to feed America’s militarist addiction.         
 
It goes without saying that every nation requires a military capability to defend its sovereignty, but this capability and the armaments chosen must be relevant to the times and existing threats. We are told by experts that we are in the age of “irregular warfare” but politicians and military leaders have yet to find the strategies to fight this type of warfare and fail to  consider the distinct possibility that these hideous, and arguably, phony wars should not be fought at all.  
 
 As the debacle of Afghanistan persists after a decade of fighting and with present assurances(courtesy of US General David Patreus) that this conflict will persist for another decade we can hardly have confidence in the capabilities, strategies, and appropriate responses of our political and military elites. For all the massive loss of life and war crimes committed(of which we live in persistent denial) and trillions spent on recent wars and militarism western powers have failed to achieve success in a minor regional war against one of the world’s poorest countries. There is something desperately wrong and for this there must be accountability. Just imagine if we ever had to fight a real war against a country with real military prowess.
 
As Canada’s Parliament reconvenes it concerns itself with the issue of whether the long gun registry should continue to exist. As it does so it retreats from governance-from the really important issues of the day- and becomes a forum for petty squabbling, partisan infighting, and an abuse of power on the part of the government for it is clearly milking this issue for future electoral advantage. The opposition is derelict in its duty for not fulfilling its role and complacently letting the government set the agenda. The opposition parties should be forcing a full debate on Canada’s role in Afghanistan and the issue of military spending regarding the F-35 and other issues of genuine national importance.  They should be holding the Minister of Defense to account for he has been running on empty for too long.   
 
This, more than buying a bunch of overpriced ill-chosen aircraft becomes a genuine and dynamic expression of sovereignty.    
 
 
 
Mark Collins full commentary can be read at:
 
 
  

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