BEWILDERED WARRIORS AND WORRIERS OF THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX


 

The National Defense Industrial Association applauded Trump’s intent to sign an executive order for a wide “whole of government” review of the defense industrial base, saying the action is a long time in coming and offering its hand in research and study.

War is narcotic for presidents. It confers instant satisfaction, raising their respectability. They get to make patriotic declarations on a topic where every utterance sounds divine. But removing a strongman always makes things worse. We leap in, thinking we’re helping the poor devils under the thumb of a dictator, and then a new dictator takes over and oppresses everyone else, usually much more brutally, while hating us even more than the old dictator. The Washington establishment is determined to manipulate the president into launching counterproductive military strikes. Our enemies, both foreign and domestic, would be delighted to see our bewildered country further weaken with stupid wars.

“The review is long overdue,” said retired Air Force Gen. Hawk Carlisle. “Fully understanding sound, solid ways to strengthen our industrial base is crucial to U.S. national security.”

Comments from Carlisle, president and CEO of the Arlington, VA-based defense nonprofit organization that champions issues and policy for a strong defense industrial base, came after the White House announced Friday that Trump would sign the “Executive Order on Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States.”

The largest bribes originate in the military industry. Military procurement is a corrupt business from top to bottom. The process is dominated by advocacy, with few checks and balances. Most people in power love this system of doing business and do not want it changed. War and preparation for war systematically corrupt all parties to the state-private transactions by which the government obtains the bulk of its military products. There is a standard 10% bribe to kleptocrats for military purchases.  

Participants in the military industrial complex are routinely blamed for mismanagement, fraud, abuse, bribes, and waste. All of these unsavory actions, however, are typically viewed as aberrations, malfeasances to be covered-up, while retaining the basic system of state-private cooperation in the trade of military goods and services and the flow of bribes. These offenses are in reality expressions of a thoroughgoing, intrinsic rottenness in the entire setup.

The order says the United States has lost more than 60,000 factory jobs and more that 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2001, Trade Policy Director Peter Navarro said during a press briefing. America’s defense industrial base now facing increasing gaps in its capabilities, he said.

Carlisle agreed. “The United States must concentrate on its ability to stay ahead,” he said. “We need to ensure that we maintain core capabilities and advance our manufacturing capacity and supply chain. We have to build better and faster, and we have to ensure that we have the workforce available to make that happen.”

Warfighting capability versus capacity is among those issues. “We don’t have capacity for what the nation is asking our warfighters to do,” Carlisle said. For instance, he said, there is a shortage of fighter jets as well as pilots to fly them.

“We are on a precipice,” he said, “and we are burning out our warriors.”

Carlisle said NDIA is ready to work with both the Defense Department and industry to complete this review under the whole-of-government approach, which calls on diverse segments of government to study an issue for a common solution.

“Our 80,000-plus members are the best and brightest, and the reason NDIA remains a leader in defense and national security organizations,” Carlisle said. “We are ready to get this examination started.”

As the debate about killer robots continues, the threat they pose looms large. Fully autonomous weapons, also known as lethal autonomous weapons systems and killer robots, would be able to select and attack targets without meaningful human control.

It’s time for countries to move beyond the talk shop phase and pursue a preemptive ban. Governments should ensure that humans retain control over whom to target with their weapons and when to fire. A ban is the only option for addressing all of the concerns. Other more incremental measures, such as adopting limited regulations on their use or codifying best practices for the development and acquisition of new weapons systems, have numerous shortcomings.

There are many challenges that fully autonomous weapons would present for compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law.  Huge lack of accountability would exist for the unlawful harm caused by such weapons. The weapons would also cross a moral threshold, and their humanitarian and security risks would outweigh possible military benefits.

Several of the 121 countries that have joined the Convention on Conventional Weapons – including the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Israel, Russia, and South Korea – are developing weapons systems with increasing levels of autonomy. Critics who dismiss concerns about fully autonomous weapons depend on speculative arguments about the future of technology and the false presumption that technological developments could address all of the dangers posed by the weapons. The success of past disarmament treaties shows that an absolute prohibition on fully autonomous weapons would be achievable and effective.

Matryoshka dolls conceptualize collaborative defense procurement. In collaborative defense procurement, a number of states decide to buy some expensive piece of military equipment together, for instance a combat aircraft or a warship. This allows them to reduce costs through economies of scale and the sharing development costs, and to increase the interoperability of their armed forces by using the same equipment. A program management entity (an international organization or a lead nation) is tasked by the participating states with the award of the contract and the management of the program.

This organizational arrangement leads to the creation of a four-layer matryoshka doll of legal relationships at the crossroads of public international law, EU law and domestic law. The first doll consists of the law applicable to the decision of a state to participate in the program. This decision made on the basis of the domestic procurement legislation of the state concerned. In the EU, this legislation has to transpose the EU public procurement directives. The second doll is the legal relationship between the participating states and the program management entity, which is usually some form of international agreement under public international law. Those agreements, when concluded by EU member states, also have to comply with EU law. The third doll is the law applied by the program management entity to award the common contract. If the program management entity is one of the participating states acting as a lead nation, the applicable law will be its domestic procurement legislation transposing the EU public procurement directives. If the program management entity is an international organization, it will be its internal procurement rules, which are part of the international institutional law of the organization concerned. Finally, the fourth matryoshka doll consists of the law applicable to the execution and interpretation of the contract itself, which is usually the domestic contract law of one of the participating states.

So as we can see the image of the matryoshka dolls is a perfect way to conceptualize the legal and organizational structure of collaborative defense procurement, and is valid as well as a model for multinational collaborative procurement in general, even outside the defense sector. So the book is of interest, not only to specialists and academics active in the defense sector, but to a wider professional public as well. Nevertheless, this matryoshka doll can be especially complex in the defense sector, as a number of exemptions can be relied on (sometimes abusively) in order to avoid complying with EU law, in particular to protect the essential security interests of the participating states.

Trump was expected to sign the executive order Friday night; it is then due to be done 270 days later, likely by next spring. The Pentagon will lead the review, considered the first such assessment of the defense industrial base.

NDIA offers Carlisle and its broad base of defense industry experts for further comment on this executive order.

The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) is the trusted leader in defense and national security associations. As a 501(c)(3) corporate and individual membership association, NDIA engages thoughtful and innovative leaders to exchange ideas, information, and capabilities that lead to the development of the best policies, practices, products, and technologies to ensure the safety and security of our nation. NDIA’s membership embodies the full spectrum of corporate, government, academic, and individual stakeholders who form a vigorous, responsive, and collaborative community in support of defense and national security.

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