Tuesday, 31 August 2010
One angle of this upcoming war I haven't mentioned is the role that so-called Defense Contractors play. As far back as 1961, President Eisenhower warned against the "Military-Industrial Complex." The Revolving Door practice, by which Defense Department jobs are filled with ex-Contractor employees, and ex-Defense Department workers pick up lush jobs at a Contractor, is well known. Thus it is inevitable that the Military-Industrial Complex will have a say in every war. And indeed, if it has any say it all, it will say that War is Good for Business.
I remember back in the late 1980's, when the veterans of America's last big war were starting to die off, and the veterans of America's last military conflict were starting to retire. There seemed to be no more role for the Army--all military engagements were being carried out by special forces, Marines, or the Navy. Pundits mused that the age of the large-scale battlefield was over. Then along came the invasion of Iraq, and once again the armies took to the field. Officers who had cut their teeth in Vietnam, serving under generals who had WWII experience, were now the generals. New Officers were earning the Combat Badges they would need to compete for promotion. The cycle of war, which ensures that everyone will have the chance to see combat at least once in a military career, came back around despite the Pundits' musings.
That was 20 years ago. For two decades, American forces have been facing hostile fire in one theater or another. Although downsized after the Cold War, the Standing Army has not gone away altogether. But since the conquest of Iraq in 2003, there has been no all-out war to put a large army to use. Worse yet, there has been no all-out war to put to use the hugely expensive armaments put out by the Military-Industrial Complex.
What America needs, it seems, is a war that will make full use of its Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. There hasn't been one now for 65 years--nearly a mortal lifetime. With the Cold War over, it's hard to justify the submarines, the supersonic fighters, the nuclear bombers--the ballistic missiles. But the Military-Industrial Complex is quite eager to justify them, because even if they aren't its bread and butter, they come very close to its bottom line.
A war with Iran would mean lots of business for the Military-Industrial Complex. As opposed as President Obama is to war, Contractors will eventually pressure him to change his mind. But I don't see this happening real soon. America is not likely to initiate a war against Iran without proof that it has already developed an atomic weapon. Since this is likely to happen within a year, even by the US Government's admission, that provides a terminus ad quem for the start of the war: somewhere between the 21st anniversary of Operation Desert Shield and the 10th anniversary of Operation Enduring Freedom.