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Pierre Sprey, Chuck Spinney, and Winslow T. Wheeler

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Bankrupt and Irrelevant: the Presidential Debates and Four Recent Studies on Pentagon Spending


In the almost 12 hours of Democratic Party presidential primary debates on June 26-27 and July 30-31, the words “Pentagon budget” or “defense spending” were not uttered, except for a fleeting, unanswered comment from Senator Bernie Sanders. Nor did any of the cable news moderators ask a single question about the more than $1.25 trillion dollars spent in 2019 for national security.

This is sad but unsurprising. Despite the parade of scandals and the billions of dollars wasted on poorly performingschedule bustingcost exploding weapons systems, the dismal failure of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) audit, the grossly overpriced spare parts, the ethically challenged senior leaders and the widely reported collapse in training and readiness, the issue of Pentagon spending and a decaying defense has been steadfastly shunned by both the candidates and the debate moderators.

Many people are quite happy about that. They wear star decorated uniforms in headquarters around the globe and expensive suits in corporate board rooms, congressional hangouts on Capitol Hill and wood-paneled offices on the E-ring of the Pentagon. The brass and the suits are well aware that candidate interest in their stewardship could get more than a little embarrassing.
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