Hillary Clinton: Candidate of Military Industrial Complex


Strategic Culture
by PETER KORZUN

 

Hillary Clinton: Candidate of Military Industrial Complex

A tally of 22 retired general and flag officers have endorsed Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate is seizing the national security agenda from her Republican rival Donald Trump.

John Allen, the marine general and former NATO commander known for keeping away from politics, is Clinton’s highest-profile endorsement from the military thus far.

More are likely to come in over the time left till the November presidential vote. The early support is made public as Trump comes under harsh criticism from security experts for his positive statements about Russia. Michael Morrell, an American intelligence analyst who served twice as acting CIA director, also openly endorsed Clinton.

He called Trump’s patriotism into question saying the GOP candidate was an «unwitting agent» of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Clinton campaign officials are trying to own the national security issue at the time fifty of the nation’s most senior Republican national security officials, many of them former top aides or cabinet members for President George W Bush, have signed a letter declaring that Donald Trump «lacks the character, values and experience» to be president and «would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being».

«Hillary Clinton has been honored by the breadth of support she’s seen from the military and national security communities across the board»said campaign spokesman Jesse Lehrich, «from young veterans who know she has their back, to career flag officers and public servants who have never entered the political sphere, like General Allen and Michael Morell».

Clinton’s defense program is long on rhetoric and short on specifics. She intends to continue the major programs of the Obama administration taking a tougher stance on foreign policy. With few specifics made public, the program includes «holding China accountable» and «standing up to Putin», among other things. In addition, she would «sustain a robust military presence in the Middle East» and be more willing to use military force. It’s well known that she is more willing to use force in Syria and Libya than the incumbent president. The Democratic candidate has not mentioned any figures related to defense budget. However, her support of many current policies implies a defense budget at least as large as the Obama administration has proposed: that is, above the level prescribed by the Budget Control Act.

On her campaign website she has argued for «permanently ending the damaging sequester» – meaning she supports rolling back budget caps that tried to curtail the federal deficit by limiting how much government agencies, including the Department of Defense, can spend.

Hillary Clinton has always embraced a strong defense platform, and it would be safe to say that she is more hawkish on national security in comparison to her peers.

No wonder, Clinton receives wide support from defense industry related contributors.

Clinton has had an unusually accommodating relationship with generals and top civilian brass.

She has always been portrayed as a sympathetic partner, an enabler-in-waiting. To the wider national-security establishment, she is clearly «of the body».

Clinton has collected more money than any other candidate in the 2016 race from employees tied to the 50 largest contractors with the Department of Defense – at least $454,994 in campaign funds over a 14-month period ending in February.

Corporations, including defense contractors, are banned from giving money directly to candidates. But they can direct spending towards particular candidates by company-run political action committees (PACs) that receive donations from their employees, and they are also free to donate funds to so-called super PACs, outside spending groups.

In her zeal to portray Donald Trump as a dangerous threat to national security, the Clinton campaign has taken a starkly anti-Russian stance. Her escalating rhetoric comes in the midst of a major push by military contractors to position Moscow as a potent enemy that must be countered with a drastic increase in military spending by NATO countries.

Executives of the defense contractors plan to cash in on the market expected to grow in case the Democratic candidate takes office in November. Defense giants like Lockheed Martin and Boeing have pledged to increase the share of exports in their overall revenues. 

The National Defense Industrial Association, a lobby group for the industry, has called on Congress to make it easier for US contractors to sell arms abroad to allies in response to the alleged «threat» from Russia.

«We know that uptick is coming and so we postured ourselves for it», said retired Army Gen. Richard Cody, a vice president at L-3 Communications, the seventh largest US defense contractor.

US defense producers see great opportunities in Eastern and Central Europe. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, military spending increased by 13 percent in the region as a result of tensions between Russia and NATO.

Poland is now drawing the most attention from defense contractors across the board, as it is one of the few countries that are pouring big money into arms purchases. The rise in Poland’s outlays, at 22 percent, was particularly steep. Lockheed Martin Corp. benefited from the fact by winning a major contract from Poland, which is revamping its armed forces.

Roman Schweizer, an analyst for the defense industry with Guggenheim Securities, predicted last year that US arms sales would continue to rise as tensions in the relationship with Russia remain.

According to Zacks Investment Research, «Clinton is an obvious favorite among these companies, and under her administration, the industry would probably get a significant boost in research and spending dollars».

Clinton has what US arms producers need – a conflation of foreign policy with military power and action. The interventionist foreign policy that has never accomplished any positive results will continue to benefit defense industry and make American people lose. Many US media outlets are doing a disservice to the American people by ignoring the substance of Trump’s arguments about NATO and Russia, and buying the Clinton campaign’s simplistic smear that Trump is a Russian «agent», «Putin’s client» or a «Manchurian candidate». Many Americans just don’t realize their country is on the way to a dangerous confrontation with Russia for no other reason than to make defense corporations richer. It’s not hard to imagine Hillary Clinton leading the country into an armed conflict just because it meets the interests of the military-industrial complex Dwight Eisenhower famously warned the Americans about in his farewell address. A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for war.

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