Saturday, June 07, 2008

Airforce Purge What's Up?

As noted here earlier the recent concerns regarding the security of nuclear weapons controlled by the U.S. Airforce have attracted a fair amount of attention. As a result Defense Secretary Robert Gates sacked the Airforce Secretary,Michael Wynne and Chief of Staff, General Michael "Buzz" Moseley ostensibly for the failures associated with the "temporarily misplaced" nuclear cruise missiles in 2007,the "accidental" shipment of nuclear nosecone fuses to Taiwan in 2006, and the most recent failure of the nuclear surety inspection of the 5th Bomber Wing at Minot AFB in North Dakota.

The World Socialist Web Site now reports on other aspects of this story which have seemingly not registered. Among other things:

"Given the context of the incident, which transpired amid reports of planning within the Bush administration for an attack on Iran, including possible use of nuclear weapons, the perfunctory statement from the Air Force that the transfer was an “error” and that “the munitions were safe, secure and under military control at all times” hardly allayed concerns.

Taken together, the claims of innocent errors as the explanation for sensitive nuclear devices being sent to one of the tensest areas of the globe and a nuclear armed flight in the midst of mounting war threats strain credulity. Both incidents strongly suggest that much more is taking place behind the scenes in the US military and state apparatus than the American people are being told......

"While no doubt the incidents raised grave questions, the manner in which the two officials were forced to resign evinces a level of urgency that suggests that far more was involved than the release of an investigator’s report.

Both Wynne and Moseley were attending an Air Force leadership summit at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Moseley was hastily summoned to Washington Thursday for a meeting with Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and asked to resign. Later that same day, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England was sent to Wright-Patterson to find Wynne and demand his resignation as well...."

The article goes on to point out intriguing economic and political aspects of the whole affair which can only make one wonder what was really going on:

"Resignations hit Lockheed Martin

Perhaps not coincidentally, the resigning air force secretary, Wynne, was recruited to the Pentagon by the Bush administration in 2001 after a 30-year career in the aerospace industry, where he had headed the space divisions of both General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin, maker of the F-22 and America’s number one military contractor.

The purge at the top of the Air Force was clearly seen as having substantial financial implications. “This can’t be good for any of us,” a Lockheed Martin official close to the F-22 program told Aviation Weekly. “I was completely surprised and nobody I know knew anything about it beforehand,” the official is quoted as saying.

It is now nearly half a century since the Republican President Dwight Eisenhower urged the American people to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” The ever-closer relations between America’s expanding military and a financially powerful arms industry, he warned had the “potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power.”

The threat indicated by Eisenhower in his farewell speech of 1961 has mushroomed into something far beyond anything the World War II general could ever have imagined.

The Air Force alone now disposes of a budget of close to $130 billion, while military spending as a whole - including the successive “emergency” funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the nuclear weapons appropriations for the Energy Department - is fast approaching one trillion dollars a year.

US generals and admirals who serve as regional commanders now act as American pro-consuls, not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in many other parts of the world, where they wield far greater power than any ambassador or other civilian representative of the US government.

Meanwhile, an officer corps that in a previous period generally avoided partisan politics has become highly politicized, influenced not only by the Republican Party, but increasingly by the Christian right.

Finally, in pursuit of its strategy of global militarism, the Bush administration has sought to portray the military as entitled to virtual veto power over the elected government, insisting that it is the commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan-hand-picked supporters of the administration’s policies—who must decide the course of the wars.

Under such a government, a sudden shakeup within the top ranks of the military like this week’s unprecedented simultaneous removal of a service’s civilian secretary and uniformed chief—or for that matter the forced resignation of Central Command head Admiral William Fallon in March—raises a number of disturbing possibilities.

Was there more to the unauthorized flight of a nuclear-armed bomber last August than the government dares reveal to the American people?

Are the Air Force chiefs being sacked in preparation for using America’s airpower in another criminal war of aggression, potentially against Iran, under conditions in which the Pentagon’s uniformed command is already deeply dissatisfied with the over-extension of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Had the near mutiny over military procurements, which apparently enjoyed the backing of powerful financial interests, gone further than has been revealed? Were they forced out to avoid a more open challenge to the civilian control of the military?

The answers to these and other crucial questions remained hidden behind a veil of “national security.” Clearly, however, under conditions of a protracted decay of basic institutions of bourgeois democracy in America, the ever-increasing power of the military poses the most fundamental threat to the basic democratic rights of American working people."

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