Revolving doors

In late December 2018, when James “Mad Dog” Mattis resigned as secretary of defense after President Trump announced that he was going to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, it was a big story . The former general was pundited to heaven and back as the last “adult in the room”, praised in Congress and treated with enormous respect for his criticism of the president.

But what happened seven months after the resignation would be reported only in passing,  uncommented upon by the punditocracy or anyone in Congress:  Mattis took up a position on the board of General Dynamics, one of the nation’s largest defense contractors, with all the perks involved. (Admittedly, he had been on that same board from the moment he retired from the military in 2013 until the president appointed him secretary of defense in 2017.)

The only public enthusiast quoted in the media was General Dynamics Chairwoman and CEO Phebe Novakovic, the head of a company that, just after Mattis’s resignation, landed a $714 million delivery order to upgrade 174 Army M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks. In her statement she said: “Jim is a thoughtful, deliberate and principled leader with a proven track record of selfless service to our nation. We are honored to have him on our board”.

According to the Washington Post, General Dynamics is “the fourth-largest corporate recipient of U.S. government contract dollars” and Mattis himself one of at least 50 “high-level government officials” hired by defense contractors since the Trump era began. In fact, on the very board that Mattis rejoined sit six other former military officers and officials, including a former Navy admiral, a former Air Force general, a former deputy secretary of defense, and Novakovic herself who once worked for the CIA and the Pentagon.  By the way, Mark Esper, the current secretary of defense, was previously a lobbyist for Raytheon.

Such events are normal and daily in the world of the military-industrial complex. In a century when a staggeringly funded military haven’t won a war anywhere (but have never stopped trying). Failure continues to prove to be the military-industrial complex’s ultimate success. (January 21, 2020  Tomgram, lightly edited for length).

My comment: This has been going on for at least 70 years, since Eisenhower criticized the self-same “military- industrial complex”.  Nothing has changed and no wars have been won. Find your way to the top and afterwards get a nice, cushy, highly paid job using your contacts.  It isn’t supposed to be like this; or, if it is, the result ought to be  victory after victory, but it isn’t. Just more deaths,  little to show for the sacrifice, and outrageous expenditure of our tax money.

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