US President Donald Trump
An unexpected attack by US President Donald Trump on the US Government’s defence establishment as recently as 7 September has exposed the Pentagon of fighting wars to make the American companies that make bombs stay happy. This may be Trump’s parting shot as the US President Dwight Eisenhower did 60 years ago in his farewell speech on 17 January 1961.
Yahoo on 13 September 2020 reported Trump’s speech made on Labour Day as follows: “Trump said Monday that while soldiers are in love with him, the top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else, stay happy.”
Yahoo published Trump’s attack a week after the US President had criticised the US Defence Department on 7 September. The disclosures were published along with reports and comments countering Trump but also blaming the President for recruiting senior Pentagon officials from the US arms industry.
Trump countered the criticisms over his unexpected attack on the US defence establishment by sharing tweets defending his statement. He responded by comparing his remarks with those of US President Dwight Eisenhower, who in his farewell speech in January 1961 blamed that ‘nothing has been done to break down the links between the US military and the nation’s arms industrial complex’!
Eisenhower in a significant speech, referred to four major wars fought during the first half of the 20th century, in three of which the US was involved. The departing President warned against the close links between the US arms industry and the country’s defence establishment. He termed the combination of the two sectors as the “military-industrial complex”, a term Eisenhower was credited with originating and used since then.
His recognition of this complicity nearly 60 years ago and his warning of its implications for freedom world-wide remain ignored by successive US Presidents, ‘captives’ of the powerful combined complex. Trump took strength creditably from Eisenhower’s public recognition of the existence of the complicity, rather than displaying his weakness of failing during his tenure to act on the January 1961 warning.
Incidentally it was during Eisenhower’s presidency that wars were launched in 1955 against North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia by the US. The pretext for two decades of war in the Far East was said to have been hatched by front organisations of the American arms industry of eliminating communism from those Buddhist nations, but which did cost five million Asian lives by 1975!
Eisenhower’s farewell ‘confession’ regretted the link but exposed the truth that the US arms industry was in fact running the country and would ruin the world. This tragic war in the Far East captained by the US military complex was fought for nearly 20 years, which sacrificed 58,000 young American lives as well. These men were at war for the worthless cause of enriching the handful of billionaires in the US arms industry. The US war allegedly against communism ended in failure with all three countries remaining communist as the war ended in 1975.
Forty-five years later on 26 October 2020, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper visit New Delhi and sign fresh agreements, for India to buy around $ 20 billion worth military software and hardware in 2020. Pompeo is a likely republican candidate for the 2024 US presidential elections. This arms deal comes against the backdrop of well-known Indian journalist N. Ram, former Editor of India’s national daily Hindu, in a report dated 30 January 2019 published in The New York Times, alleging India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi being ‘embroiled in a murky Euro 7.8 billion ($ 9 billion) arms deal’ to purchase 36 fighter planes.
India had been regularly buying costly weapons, far more sophisticated than required for routine defence use, particularly after Modi came to power in 2014. The touted justification for the current agreement from the US perspective appears to be for India, backed by the US, to be ready to fight within years to come, the alleged spread of ‘Chinese communism’. It is widely suspected that this conflict is being planned with South Asia as the necessary battle ground.
Things seem to be going ahead according to pre- arranged schedules, notwithstanding a total of nine million Americans and eight million Indians infected in the respective countries with the deadly COVID-19. The daily death toll of the virus afflicted, in pathetically ill-equipped health services at breaking point in both countries, does not seem to matter.
Meanwhile amidst the dangerous spread of coronavirus worldwide, massive sums are being spent by the Quad – US, India, Japan and now Australia – on costly naval exercises, 3-6 November in the Bay of Bengal to be followed next month with another joint show of force in the Arabian Sea. The extravagant naval display goes on, though in April 2020 about 80 out of 5,000 US navy personnel in the US aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in the region were tested COVID-19 positive, according to a Reuters report of 1 April 2020.
About 700 out of 1,767 marines in the French aircraft carrier ‘Charles de Gaulle’ were also COVID positive infected by 15 April 2020, according to another report. The point is the priority and urgency that the US is giving to tackling the alleged Chinese communist spread than to the real and deadly virus spread, the latter destroying hundreds of lives every day in the Quad countries as well as worldwide.
So the battle grounds have shifted from the Far East in the fifties allegedly to combat communism, then to the Middle East in the nineties to combat so called ‘Radical Islam’ and ‘Islamic fundamentalism’, created by George W. Bush and Tony Blair to launch the 1991 war on Iraq!
Having exhausted the bombings of large tracts of lands in a number of Middle Eastern and North African countries, the Western military industrial complex seems to be looking for new projects in South Asia. Whistle blowers in the region ought to watch and expose those sections of the Western media including social platforms which very soon will hallucinate the profound dangers of ‘communist China’ and ‘radical Islam’ even while US and some European leaders continue to incite Muslims into violent extremism by championing hurtful causes amounting to wilful intolerance of religious differences.
The Yahoo report confirms that Trump himself had put “a succession of defence industry executives into the most senior jobs in the Defence Department”. Quoting a Bloomberg analysis in 2018, the report states that more than 80% of senior Pentagon officials had been appointed by Trump. US Defence Secretary Mark Esper appointed by Trump is himself a former Vice President of one of the world’s largest US arms manufacturers, Raytheon Technologies. For more on this from the present writer, see http://www.ft.lk/columns/They-lied-They-cheated-They-robbed-Did-they/4-708401.
Ryan McCarthy appointed by Trump as Army Secretary was a Vice President of Lockheed Martin, another leading US aero and arms manufacturer! Patrick Shanahan appointed by Trump in 2017 as Deputy Defence Secretary had a 30-year career at Boeing, yet another top ranking aero cum arms manufacturer.
The appointments are not one way. The Project on Government Oversight in a report titled ‘Brass Parachutes: The Problem of the Pentagon Revolving Door’ found that in 2018, the top 20 defence contractors hired a total of 645 “senior government officials, military officers, Members of Congress and senior legislative staff as lobbyists, board members or senior executives”.
There is little doubt that the US arms industry and the Pentagon have been locked into each other for at least 60 unbroken years, fighting wars in different parts of the world in stages. The visit of Esper and Pompeo to New Delhi and Pompeo to Sri Lanka, Maldives, Indonesia and Vietnam is a harbinger of the shift of battlefronts.
US wars were originally in the Far East in the 1960s beginning with the Korea war in 1950 and the Vietnam War commencing in 1961, then to the Middle East from the 1990s beginning with Operation Desert Storm-Iraq in 1991 and to South Asia in the 2020s. There appears to be a 30-year cycle in the US shifting battle grounds.
The incoming President Joe Biden will not alter the agenda of the US ‘Military Industrial Complex’. He probably cannot! Biden did pledge on 20 July 2020 to overturn Trump’s anti-black anti-Muslim separatist policies. If he does that, Biden will make America truly great again.
With wars being thrust upon South Asia, we need to recall that the wars in the Middle-East fought country after country under various pretexts forced millions to flee their homelands by boats and other means. Thousands of them also died at sea. The wars in South Asia may lead to the region’s poverty-stricken population to flee to countries like Australia. Then it will no longer be illegal entry but legitimate arrivals. As it happened in parts of Europe, Australia will not succeed in stopping the human inflow.
The Far Eastern wars have now been forgotten. The Middle Eastern ordeals we have seen! We have now time, thanks to the coronavirus which will be part of the ‘New World Order a la George W. Bush,’ to see the forthcoming US Quad of Four upheavals due to begin this decade in South Asia. There is still time for the Asians to pray.
(The writer is a former Member of Parliament and can be reached at [email protected])