Ralph Nader on Defense

Corporate welfare: taxpayers fund defense industry mergers

No government agency is cozier with industry than the Department of Defense, and corporate welfare is pervasive at the agency famous for cost overruns, waste, fraud, and abuse. Among the most galling of Defense Department corporate welfare handouts is the Pentagon’s merger subsidy program, which pays defense contractors to merge, lessening competition for government bids and increasing the lobbying power of newly combined defense megafirms.

The Pentagon subsidy plan began in the 1990s, when it decided to encourage consolidation in the defense sector. The industry asked for and won encouragement in the form of payments to cover the costs of consolidation-including extravagant “golden parachute” bonuses to executives.

Levels of industry concentration in the defense sector are now so high that the antitrust authorities are beginning to intervene to block some new mergers among primary contractors. But other defense mergers continue to proceed-with the help of the US taxpayer.

Source: Cutting Corporate Welfare, p. 21-22 Oct 9, 2000

Deter wars by being attuned abroad

Q: When would you send our young people into harm’s way?

NADER: When our essential security interests and the safety of the American people is at stake.

Q: Does that mean we would have to be on the verge of an invasion of an outside force?

NADER: No. For example, looking backward, there were ways to have deterred the Japanese; there are ways to signal to the Germans. Historians have shown that. We have just got to be more rigorously attuned to that.

Source: Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe, page D1 Oct 8, 2000

Kill F-22, Seawolf, Osprey, & other gold-plated weapons

Q: The Green Party proposes cutting the defense budget in half. What programs would you cut to reduce spending by $150 billion?

A: One, bring back the troops from Western Europe and East Asia, 55 years after World War II, who are defending prosperous allies who can defend themselves against non-existent enemies. That’s $70 billion right there. Take out of the pipeline those gold-plated weapons systems that ex-admirals and generals have opposed, including some Pentagon analysts who’ve told me that they’re not strategically needed, the F-22, the Joint Strike Fighter, another bunch of Seawolf submarines, the Osprey fighter, which has killed 34 Marines. So you streamline the procurement budget. You know, there are a lot of former Pentagon officials who are not working in the defense industry who really know what needs to be done for a lean, effective military defense driven by defense considerations, not by the profit procurement demands of Lockheed Martin & General Dynamics and other corporations.

Source: Nader-Buchanan debate on ‘Meet the Press’ Oct 1, 2000

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is discriminatory against gays

Q: Do you support the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military?

A: No I do not. The current system is discriminatory against homosexuals who wish to serve their country. All members of our society should have equal rights and responsibilities. Gays have served in all military branches in numerous foreign countries and, truth be told, have given their lives serving in the U.S. armed services throughout American history.“

Source: Associated Press Sep 6, 2000

SDI doesn’t work; money better spent elsewhere

Q: I assume you’re against SDI?

A: Well, it doesn’t work, even according to the physics community. Gen. MacArthur warned against looking for enemies. [An enemy] could bring a nuclear bomb in a suitcase -- so what are we gonna do, have a $500 billion suitcase defense system? We have far more serious needs -- with billions spent on arms instead of spending pennies to protect children’s health.

Source: National Public Radio, “The Connection” Jul 11, 2000

Stop using weapons sales to determine foreign policy

Much of our foreign policy is driven by insatiable corporate pressures to sell military hardware to both the Defense Department and directly to foreign dictators. This happens even if it goes against the interests of our country, taxpayers and the principle of prudently allocated public budgets.
Source: Nomination Acceptance Speech Jun 25, 2000

Stop spending on unneeded weapons & non-existent enemies

Fifty years after World War II, tens of thousands of our troops are still in Europe and East Asia, defending prosperous nation allies who are fully capable of defending themselves against non-existent enemies. Yet, useless massive weapons systems remain on the drawing boards to further mortgage our fiscal future and drain money and talent from long overdue civilian projects.
Source: Nomination Acceptance Speech Jun 25, 2000

Cut defense budget by $100B; time to demobilize

Q: The Green Party platform says about defense spending: “We strive to cut the defense budget by 50% by the year 2000, from approximately $300 billion -- aggregate spending -- in 1996.” Is this your position?
A: Not that much. But [even former Reagan officials say the] defense budget can be cut by $100 billion. Look, our traditional adversaries are no more. Soviet Union is gone. Historically, we demobilized after our enemies have disappeared or have been conquered. We’re not doing that now. We have F-22s, tens of billions of dollars. Analysts in the Pentagon are opposed to it. B-2 bombers forced down the Pentagon’s throat while the global infectious disease efforts of the Pentagon, a great story, is starved for its budget.
Source: Interview on ‘Meet the Press’ May 7, 2000

Stop unneeded defense of prosperous countries

Q: How would you cut the Defense budget by a third?
A: First, bring back some of the troops from Western Europe & East Asia who are defending prosperous countries who can defend themselves against non-existent enemies. There’s about $70 billion being spent in that area a year in up-front and back-up costs. And then these massive weapons systems that have no strategic value whatsoever. How about the Osprey aircraft? That’s crashed and killed a lot of Marines. A wasteful defense is a weak defense.
Source: Interview on ‘Meet the Press’ May 7, 2000

Defense frameworks: how to wage peace while building weapons

Q: People will want to know your views on sanctions on Iraq, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Chechnya and Kosovo. You’ve got to be prepared to answer those questions.

A: They’ll be answered in terms of frameworks. Once you get into more and more detail, the focus is completely defused. The press will focus on the questions that are in the news. If Chechnya is in the news, they’ll want to focus on that. We should ask ourselves, What kind of popular participation is there in foreign and military policy in this country? Very little indeed. We want to develop the frameworks. For example, do we want to pursue a vigorous policy of waging peace and put the resources into it from our national budget as we pursue the policy of building up ever-new weapons systems?

Source: Alternative Radio interview with David Barsamian Feb 23, 2000

Popular participation instead of corporate involvement

What kind of popular participation is there in foreign and military policy in this country? Very little indeed. Corporations are very much involved in a lot of these foreign policy and military policy issues. In fact, one might say they are most involved compared to anyone else in military policy budget through the Pentagon, with huge amounts of money going to unnecessary weapons systems, even by conventional military analysts’ opinions.
Source: Alternative Radio interview with David Barsamian Feb 23, 2000

Supports Test Ban Treaty & arms control

Q: What are your views on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
A: Of course I’m for it.
Q: People need to know that, right?
A: Certainly. Arms control is extremely important.
Source: Alternative Radio interview with David Barsamian Feb 23, 2000

Arms race is driven by corporate demand

The arms race is driven by corporate demands for contracts, whether it’s General Dynamics or Lockheed Martin. They drive it through Congress. They drive it by hiring Pentagon officials in the Washington military industrial complex.
Source: Alternative Radio interview with David Barsamian Feb 23, 2000

F-22 aircraft is unneeded; and dangerous to fly

The F-22 fighter aircraft is an inadvisable project that is strategically not needed and pushes the frontiers even of manned pilot stamina in terms of g-levels, in other words, increases the risk of pilots blacking out. G-levels“ are the gravity levels that they pull down in these extremely high speed military aircraft. It’s beginning to affect the pilots. They tend to for short periods of time pass out and recover while they’re still in flight.
Source: Alternative Radio interview with David Barsamian Feb 23, 2000

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