By Eric Zuesse
24 November, 2015
America's Awesome Corruption — Especially in the Military
By Eric Zuesse
24 November, 2015
On November 16th, the great journalist on international strategic and military issues, F. William Engdahl, headlined at journal-neo, “Do We Really Want a New World War With Russia?” and he documented that, with military expenditures one-tenth of America's, Russia achieves at least parity with the U.S. in terms of war-fighting capability. It's a remarkable article, even though it actually brings together into one place the recent disclosures in many media, regarding vital technologies where Russia far outpaces American capabilities. Of course, that's what's necessary to do in order to document the extent of Russia's areas of clear military superiority.
As to the question of whether the areas where the U.S. surpasses Russia's military technologies might be more or fewer than Russia's, the key point to consider is, I think, that Russia has now (as Engdahl makes clear) so greatly exceeded U.S. capabilities in certain vitally important respects, so that, at the very most, the U.S., even with all of its alliances etc., would be merely equal to Russia — the Russian military's areas of excellence are that crucial.
Engdahl quotes one high U.S. military official as saying that Russia's technologies for disabling U.S. weapons are so shocking that it almost makes him cry. A recent article in Defense News went into even more depth about Russia's superiority in that particular area — and this was published before the subsequent embarrassing U.S. military back-downs in Syria and elsewhere, which have more recently (especially since 30 September 2015) been necessitated by the uncompetitive U.S. position regarding those vitally important technologies.
Of course, all of this pertains only to America's corruptness in the expenditures of ‘defense' dollars (how ironic to use the word “defense” to refer to the military in the world's most-aggressive nation. Globally, "The US was the overwhelming choice (24% of respondents) for the country that represents the greatest threat to peace in the world today. This was followed by Pakistan (8%), China (6%), North Korea, Israel and Iran (5%).” Honesty would surely dictate a name-change to “The U.S. Department of Aggression.” But in official U.S. Newspeak, Russia is, instead, by far, the most “aggressive” nation on the planet.)
According to other measures of corruption, the U.S. is probably less corrupt than Russia is. But everyone knows that that's highly corrupt. America typically manages to hide its corruption more skillfully than Russia hides its — but that isn't important; the overall reality of corruption in the two countries might be not much different in degree, but only in the kinds of corruption: more high-end in America, more low-end in Russia.
Back in 2013, I headlined "How the U.S. Performs in Recent International Rankings,” and reported that:
Corruption seems to be a rather pervasive problem in the U.S. On "Diversion of Public Funds [due to corruption]," the U.S. ranks #34. On "Irregular Payments and Bribes" (which is perhaps an even better measure of lack of corruption) we are #42. On "Public Trust in Politicians," we are #54. On "Judicial Independence," we are #38. On "Favoritism in Decisions of Government Officials" (otherwise known as governmental "cronyism"), we are #59. On "Organized Crime," we are #87. On "Ethical Behavior of Firms," we are #29. On "Reliability of Police Services," we are #30. On "Transparency of Governmental Policymaking," we are #56. On "Efficiency of Legal Framework in Challenging Regulations," we are #37. On "Efficiency of Legal Framework in Settling Disputes," we are #35. On "Burden of Government Regulation," we are #76. On "Wastefulness of Government Spending," we are also #76. On "Property Rights" protection (the basic law-and-order measure), we are #42.
Russia performed even worse, averaging around 110 over all those factors. 144 nations were ranked.
However, as regards corruption in the expenditure of military dollars, the U.S. is simply gigantic — and certainly far worse than Russia. On 13 May 2014, Stars and Stripes bannered, "Decades Later, Military Still Unable to Account for Its Spending,” and reported that:
The military is still running behind in its decades-long quest to audit its spending and rein in waste, Department of Defense comptrollers testified Tuesday to the Senate.
Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps financial managers will be unable to fully meet a midpoint deadline set by the secretary of defense this year for mandated accounting benchmarks. Meanwhile, “serious continuing deficiencies” remain in the accounting efforts, according to a Government Accountability Office report issued Tuesday.
Nearly three decades after U.S. taxpayers gasped over $640 toilet seats and other Cold War military waste, the Department of Defense remains the last federal department still unable to conduct a financial audit despite laws passed in the 1990s that require the accounting.
The Defense Department's Comptroller admits, in the Department's latest available financial report: “The Department cannot produce auditable financial statements.”
In other words: that's a dark hole, down which trillions of federal taxpayer dollars have gone, without so much as a reliable financial record having been kept regarding where and to whom and how it went down into that darkness.
Basically, the U.S. government now has been largely contracted-out, to privately controlled corporations (which collectively spend billions lobbying the U.S. Congress and financing political campaigns); and this is especially true with the Pentagon. It's the result, since 1981, of increasing application of ‘capitalism' (the dictatorial not the democratic version of that) such as existed in fascist Italy and in Nazi Germany, when governmental functions and assets first began to become privatized and the arms-makers became vastly enriched by the resultant asset-sales and the pouring of that money into armaments — to extend the German and Italian aristocracies' control by conquering countries. Fascist nations are incredibly corrupt; they expand by international theft; and the US DOD (Department of ‘Defense') is legendarily corrupt.
That's more than half of U.S. discretionary federal spending — U.S. military expenditures: a dark hole, of corruption.
And here's how corrupt are the aristocracies of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar — the three main U.S. allies in America's war to remove Syra's secular, non-sectarian, and consistently anti-jihadist, Shiite leader Bashar al-Assad. To talk about an alliance like that, a pro-Sunni jihadist operation, as constituting ‘the free world,' or ‘a fight for democracy,' is to address the public as being not merely fools but stupid fools (suckers), because there is no real freedom in aristocratic-theocratic dictatorships; there is only mind-control, and aristocrats raking in billions from the public through taxes, so as for aristocrats to become enabled to use those public dollars in order to expand their personal empire by international conquest, in conjunction with the U.S. aristocracy — the master-aristocracy (Obama repeatedly refers to it as “the one indispensable nation”), which coordinates the entire fraudulent international business enterprise.
The Israeli government can be added to this list because it receives annually from U.S. taxpayers $3 billion in order to buy yet more weapons from U.S. armaments-makers, and is pushing in the U.S. Congress to increase that to $5B annually. That's yet more money pouring into firms such as the profoundly corrupt Lockheed Martin. One of Lockheed's top salesmen was the notorious Adnan Khashoggi, alias Adnan Kasogi. Further in that example, Lockheed is itself controlled by State Street Corporation, which is tagged in one major study as the #5 power-holder globally, and is itself controlled by Joseph L. Hooley, who meets occasionally with other ‘Wall Street' executives and the U.S. President privately at the White House, to discuss such things as, perhaps, whether the U.S. annual donation to Israel should be increased. Is that, too, “corruption”? How can it not be? Those people are obliged to their investors, not to the public. Because most of these operatives aren't generally known to the public, major international business (including war-propagation) can easily be transacted amongst themselves, in private. And, normally, people such as Hooley are merely agents for a few of the three thousand or so billionaires who actually control international relations and decide whether the path will be war or no-war. Almost all of the soldiers and civilians who then bleed and die in those wars own nothing but their blood and guts. But maybe some of them vote in a democracy — the bane of all aristocrats, because democracy threatens to get in the way of aristocrats' choices — their ‘free market,' in which such blood and guts are valued hardly more than they are in a slaughterhouse. It's just ‘business.' But all international business is also very much politics, and governments. They blend into one-another.
The odd thing is that, whereas Russia, with all its low-end forms of corruption, is notoriously corrupt, the U.S., with its massive corruption at the very top — and increasingly legal there now, after the U.S. Supreme Court has done virtually eveything possible to grease its skids even more — might actually be even more so (just not as visibly so).
The Russian system of military expenditures is diametrically opposite to America's. Whereas the U.S. has privatized, Russia kept its military industries within the Federal Government. Any profits from weapons-sales go to the Russian government, not to mega-corporate CEOs, etc. The weapons-manufacturers are part of the government. Just like in the U.S., there are no published financial reports on its operations; but, there are financial reports every year that are reviewed by the Ministers of Defense, and, above that, by the President and the Prime Minister — these being people who are accountable to the voters, not merely to some aristocracy of corporate stockholders. In the U.S. there are no such financial reports at all. Instead, America's politicians just see the dollars flowing into their ‘election' (more like aristocratic selection) campaigns. War-profits are private, and the buying of politicians is just another business-expense.
Russia is getting a far bigger bang for their military bucks — that's for sure. As the Obama Administration tries now increasingly to strangle Russia, not just economically but also militarily, this lesser-seen component of America's vast corruption is coming more and more to light, even if the financial operations behind it are not.
And yet, the American public think that the ‘Defense' Department and all its contractors, and the associated national-security operations such as CIA, Homeland Security, etc., exist primarily in order to protect the American people, rather than to protect and to expand the empire of, America's aristocracy, who, via their investment funds and ‘nonprofits,' own the press, the military firms, etc. It's a network of power, which benefits the more, to the extent that the public are in fear and contempt, against ‘those aliens,' or ‘those foreigners,' not of their own nation's aristocracy, who are actually pulling the strings and destroying everyone else's security and lives.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
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