Pentagon Chief Calls for Cuts; Congress Opens Fire
By Dana Milbank
Tuesday, April 7, 2009; A02
The F-22 Raptor fighter can cruise at speeds greater than Mach 1.5 without afterburners. It is virtually invisible to enemies, carries two 1,000-pound missiles and can turn on a dime.
But there is one foe the F-22 was not designed to defeat: Defense Secretary Bob Gates.
“We will end production of the F-22 fighter,” Gates announced matter-of-factly in the hushed Pentagon briefing room yesterday, dispatching Lockheed Martin’s $140-million-a-pop aircraft without even a hint of regret. “For me,” he added, “it was not a close call.”
. . . Boeing’s Future Combat Systems fighting vehicles — kaboom! . . . Lockheed’s multiple-kill vehicle: killed. . . Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics’ DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer with Raytheon electronics? Gates sunk their battleship. . . The Lockheed VH-71 presidential helicopter and Boeing’s C-17 cargo plane? SecDef shot them down, too.
Now, Congress will allow itself to be quietly led away from the pork-barrel, or it will dig in with the complaints of “job loss, national defense imperatives and that last refuge of mob-psychology–terrorism!
Not guns and butter, guns or butter in an over-weaponized and under-buttered world. As we and Israel get our asses handed to us by no-budget nomads, the stern call for defense against China and a new arms race can be heard whispered in the ears of the Congess.
“Lobbyists have more offices in Washington than the President. You see, the President only tells Congress what they should do. Lobbyists tell ’em what they will do.”
-Will Rogers, October 20, 1929
Eighty years and damned little has changed. Even so, the world economy may change what the world of politics has been unable to manage.