Billions to the Arms Merchants; Attrition to the Last Ukrainian
Introduction by ANDREW COCKBURN
JUL 15, 2023
I’m proud to post this succinct summary of what the NATO summit in Vilnius was all about by my friend Chuck Spinney. Spinney knows the machine from the inside, having spent thirty years working as a Pentagon analyst. His 1980 briefing “Defense Facts of Life” detailed how and why the more we spend on defense, the less defense we get. Everything he predicted in that paper has been totally confirmed over the subsequent half century of bloat, greed, and decline.
One Clapped out DoD Retiree's take on the Vilnius Summit
Re-posted in Counterpunch, 17 July 2023
I think the Vilnius NATO summit will be remembered as a predictable, if ridiculous, effort to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
The summit's near term goal seems to have been to squirm out of a NATO Article 5 commitment to Ukraine. But its long term goal seems to have been to rationalize a continuation of NATO's US-driven, neocon fantasy to weaken and perhaps dismember Russia by enmeshing Russia and Ukraine in a deepening, unending Russo-NATO proxy war of attrition — i.e., attrition to the last Ukrainian. Consider the hodgepodge of contradictory policy “decisions” emerging from the summit:
- Ukraine, the most corrupt country in Europe (with the arguable exception of Kosovo — an earlier product of NATO’s hubris) will not be offered membership in NATO for the foreseeable future, but the NATO requirement for Ukraine to pass a Membership Action Plan has been waived — effectively accelerating the procedures of joining what has morphed into a Not-So-Atlantic Alliance.
- The NATO Summit established a potentially consequential NATO-Ukraine Council as a permanent standing institution of NATO, where the 31 NATO Allies would meet periodically with Ukraine to map out NATO's policies for dealing with emergency situations, presumably including those policies dealing with the conduct of NATO's never-ending proxy war with Russia.
- The G7 economic grouping would work with Ukraine to ensure the continued flow of military hardware to Ukraine — read a policy to shovel ever more money to NATO’s military industrial complex, but the G7 is an economic grouping and is not part of NATO, which is a trigger-happy military alliance, because an attack on one member is deemed to be an attack on all members under the language of Article 5 of the NATO Treaty.
The original purpose of the so-called Atlantic Alliance was accurately summed up by NATO’s first Secretary General, Lord Ismay, when he opined its purpose is “… to keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”
Well, the Soviet Union is not only OUT, it disappeared into the dustbin of history in 1991; the Americans are now IN Eastern Europe as well as Ismay’s Atlantic Europe; and Germany, the economic engine of the European Union, and once the Hope Diamond of Post WWII Atlantic Europe, is being pushed DOWN into the neo-liberal economic gutter. … And post-Vilnius NATO, led by the United States, wants to preserve and strengthen this absurd state of affairs by issuing its latest 90 paragraph rationalization for what is, in effect, an effort continue to shovel money into NATO's post-cold war Sow’s Ear.
So … Cui Bono? The merchants of death in the US Military - Industrial - Congressional Complex (MICC), which feeds off the opaque, unaccountable, and corrupt defense budgeting procedures of the Pentagon and Congress.
The swamp of bureaucratic procedures practiced by the Pentagon and Congress, with the help of the MICC’s army of lobbyists and influence peddlers (well-greased by the revolving employment door), routinely end up producing defense budgets that  shrink the size of our combat forces,  underfund the military’s near term readiness for combat,  create aging inventories of existing weapons by decreasing the production rates of the new, higher-cost, more-complex new weapons in the modernization budgets, and , via the assistance of the MICC's army of lobbyists and subsidiaries in the media and think tanks, market the ever-higher cost but more profitable madness with glowing promises that the new technologies will be war fighting “game changers” — i.e., that the future will be different from the past!
Yet since the end of World War II, the American ideology of game-changing miracle weapons seems to be more correlated with a growing political propensity to accept what can most charitably be characterized as a string of “incomplete successes” when it comes to our game-changing efforts in the real world — which is probably better than we can hope for in the ongoing Russo-NATO proxy war to the last Ukrainian.