A Boon To The Boondogglers: Forty Billion Fcking Dollars
June 20, 2014
Charles P. Pierce / Esquire Magazine
Commentary: The $40 billion Ground-based Midcourse Defense system was supposed to protect Americans against a chilling new threat from "rogue states." But a decade after it was declared operational the fact is the GMD doesn't work and likely never will. It was promoted as a means to protect us from a missile attack from North Korea or Iran -- nations that have no missiles capable of getting halfway here.
Within minutes, the interceptor's three boosters had burned out and fallen away, and the kill vehicle was hurtling through space at 4 miles per second. It was supposed to crash into the mock enemy warhead and obliterate it. It missed. At a cost of about $200 million, the mission had failed.
Eleven months later, when the US Missile Defense Agency staged a repeat of the test, it failed, too. The next attempted intercept, launched from Vandenberg on July 5, 2013, also ended in failure.
The Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, or GMD, was supposed to protect Americans against a chilling new threat from "rogue states" such as North Korea and Iran. But a decade after it was declared operational, and after $40 billion in spending, the missile shield cannot be relied on, even in carefully scripted tests that are much less challenging than an actual attack would be, a Los Angeles Times investigation has found.
A Boon To The Boondogglers:
Forty Billion Fcking Dollars
(June 16, 2014) -- I will leave it to the rest of you to estimate how much good we could have done in this country with, you know, forty billion fcking dollars. I will leave it to the rest of you to collect all the quotes from all the politicians in both the Republican and Democratic parties who moaned so loudly about The Deficit, and who worship still at the altar of Entitlement Reform, and who fought over how much to cut the food stamp program, and yet voted to pour down this obvious rathole forty billion fcking dollars.
"The system is not reliable," said a recently retired senior military official who served under Presidents Obama and Bush. "We took a system that was still in development -- it was a prototype -- and it was declared to be 'operational' for political reasons. At that point, you couldn't argue anymore that you still needed to develop and change things. You just needed to build them."
Instead, let's look at this as a grand mix of American insanity in which the gluttonous irrationality of the Defense Department blended smoothly with the spiraling paranoia that erupted after 9/11. This is a system -- which doesn't work and likely never will -- that is meant to protect us from a missile attack from North Korea, which doesn't have a missile capable of getting halfway here yet, or from Iran, about which ditto, or maybe from the secret al Qaeda rocket base that has managed to elude all of our spy satellites.
In other words, this is a safeguard against someone, somewhere, who decides to commit national suicide because, as soon as their missiles fly, their country becomes a glass parking lot and they know it.
Look just recently at what happened when Vladimir Putin started moving on eastern Ukraine. Almost every great geopolitical thinker capable of throwing a televised tantrum did so demanding that we revive our plans to stick a missile defense "system" in Poland or the Czech Republic or somewhere else in eastern Europe. Naturally, John McCain (R-Bad Ideas) dove eagerly into that spotlight.
After that, McCain wants the Obama administration to reverse its decision to scuttle missile defense plans for Eastern Europe, plans that Putin objected to strongly. The Obama administration claimed that its decision to scrap the plans was not a concession to Russia, but it came at a time when Obama wanted to work with Russia on further reducing nuclear-weapon stockpiles. Such cooperation now seems far-fetched.
The importance of the forty billion fcking dollars we spent on missile defense was not to defend ourselves against missiles but, rather, as a platform for international dick-waving. Genius. Oh, and military Keynesianism.
One of the staunchest advocates for speedily expanding the system has been Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, where missile-defense jobs are heavily concentrated. Sessions, the senior Republican on the Senate subcommittee responsible for missile defense, has fought moves to slow the production of the rockets and has warned repeatedly about what North Korea or Iran might do.
Alabama's other senator, Richard C. Shelby -- the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee -- has also sought to deflect concerns about the test failures and the program's cost.
"We're interested in cost," Shelby said at an appropriations subcommittee hearing on July 17, 2013. "We're also interested in defending this country." Though both North Korea and Iran have launched crude unarmed missiles, US intelligence assessments provided to Congress indicate that neither country has the capability to deliver a long-range, nuclear-tipped missile to the United States.
Forty billion fcking dollars.
The mind, she reels.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.