DEFENDING AMERICA
David H. Hackworth
7 April 98

DEFENSE RACKEETERS RIDE TO THE RESCUE

Corporate America's merchants of death are pressing forward with their plan to bring back the Cold War. They reckon it was not only a cushy ongoing deal for the arm's business, it worked for the rest of America too.

For the military contractors, the first step to get the Cold War back on the fast track is to make the Russians -- already the most paranoid people in the world -- more paranoid. Arming their ancient enemies -- the Poles, Hungarians and Czechs -- and bringing them into NATO's gun bristling camp will do just the trick, they figure.

If all goes according to their marketing scam, the Russians will soon be eyeballing General Dynamic tanks, Boeing F-18s, Lockheed F-16s and McDonnell Douglas C-17s, doing the Cold War jig just inches away from Mother Russia's sacred turf.

Bill Clinton and most Democrat and Republican porkers in Congress are right behind NATO expantion. The $33 million dollars that defense contractors have pushed their way in campaign contributions since 1990 has helped sharpen their thinking. Last year, one company alone, Loral Space and Communications -- owned in part by Lockheed Martin-- gave the Democrats a juicy $366,000.

Once Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are suited up, they'll have to replace their Soviet gear with new NATO stuff. This means big bucks to the arms merchants. Poland alone may buy up to 150 fighters at around $40 million a pop. And somewhere down the muddy track, 14 other former Soviet bloc countries could become NATO-ized with tanks, radios and aircraft, all, if the contractors have their way, made in the good ol' United States of America.

Their pitch is that the Cold War was good. For almost 50 years, we had stability and knew exactly who our enemy was and where he was, at any given time.

In the good old us versus them days, there weren't fruitcakes all over the place like today: new-world-disorder crazies trying to scarf up our oil wells, spray us with bugs and germs and blow up our cities.

Back before the Berlin wall had a big fall, the termites like Saddam Hussein lined right up behind Ivan and Sam. If they made just one mistake they'd get it right in the chops and a new Kim, Minh or Shah would be appointed.

Sure the Russians and the Americans pointed thousands of nuclear- tipped missiles at one another. Yeah, we both had equipment-heavy armies and navies composed of millions of troopers, but the main purpose they served was to make the cash registers across this land and the steppes of Russia sing a sweet song.

And everything was under control. The hot line took care of that. Ever since John F. Kennedy and Nikita Kruschev over reacted because of a few missiles in Cuba, both super powers learned to keep their nuclear hands very close to their vests.

Back then, according to the arm's merchants' sales line, everything was simple, predictable and manageable. There were rules. We didn't cross line A and they didn't cross line B.

And both our economy and the Russian's roared. We spent $12 trillion and along the way invented the $700 toilet seat, the $500 hammer and made a lot of politicians, military contractors and retired brass hats very, very rich.

There was a shoot out from time to time, but never between the main contenders. Instead surrogates did the heavy lifting in places like Angola and Nicaragua.

We both occasionally jumped into the killing fields to get some practice, test some new gear and to keep the game going, but we never went directly against one another. According to the rules, that was just not nuclear cricket.

Now with this new market, American arms manufactures expect to make billions of dollars. And this is just for starters. Wait till Russia growls again and the race -- arms race, that is -- takes off like a Montana grizzly bear after a fat New York City tourist.

But wait. You say the Poles and their ex-communist pals are broke and don't have the dough for this gold plated gear. No sweat. The arm's gang has set up a US-backed loan program with their porker pals in Congress.

Of course, American taxpayers will guarantee it.

The end