Friday, January 17, 2014

Air Force as Show Business and Special-Interest Politics

At the end of WW II a task force was assembled to study the role of the Air Force in winning the war.  John Kenneth Galbraith was a member of the team.  It concluded that the Air Force was of limited impact and that it was the infantry that had to do the work.  “Attempts at daylight precision bombing in World War II proved ineffective.  The bombers suffered heavy losses, and the enemy had to be defeated the old-fashion way with massive armies slogging across Europe….” The same battle is going on again.  The Air Force wants new, big and super-fast fighters that cost $1.5 trillion each.  Yet, it was the cheaper, slower and more maneuverable A-10 that provided air support to our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Probably, the speedier fighters account for many of the civilian casualties that the Afghans complain about.  Fast planes and drones lack the necessary field of vision to distinguish friend from foe.  The Air Force is determined to eliminate the A-10.  Harper's reports that “Legislators with A-10 bases in their districts who might ordinarily attempt to save those jobs, were offered special inducements by the Air Force.  Thus Michigan’s Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate’s Armed Services committee, has been guaranteed a squadron of aerial tanker planes that will provide substitute employment.”
    The military-industrial complex is fleecing us again. I wish Levin had asked for high-speed rail lines rather that jets.
Source: Andrew Cockburn, “Tunnel  Vision,” Harper’s, February 2014.

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