The politics of pork and military spending

Expanding the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) via a new $1.9 billion radar project that the Pentagon doesn’t want, says isn’t needed and will be obsolete before it’s even completed – is a bad idea.

The benefits of the pork are simply not worth the negative baggage that comes with it.

The waste of taxpayer funds, the increased militarization of our island (and the planet), the inevitable negative environmental impacts, the false economy this expansion would create, the inflated housing costs, and the continued erosion of access to this beautiful coastline, are only some of the negatives that will be forthcoming should this project move forward.

The proposal reeks of what is no doubt a well-intended, basic political desire to “take care of the district” by bringing home the bacon of jobs and economic development. While the goal of supporting Hawaii’s economy is a worthy one, the path of increased military spending on this particular project especially is not.

Last year the Pentagon itself actually attempted to defund the $1.9 billion Homeland Defense Radar – Hawaii project. According to the widely read publication Defense News, Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill said ‘that the agency decided to hit the brakes on its plans to set up the radars in the Pacific, instead are planning to take a new look at the sensor architecture in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command region’.

MDA Director Hill also indicated that the region was already protected by, “…forward-deployed AN/TPY-2 radar in Hawaii as well as the deployable Sea-Based X-Band radar. Additionally, Aegis ships with their radars are mobile and can be repositioned as needed to address threats in the near term.”

“Yet, over the summer, the Hawaiian radar gained traction in Congress via funding support in the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee’s version of the FY21 defense spending bill and the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the defense policy bill.” Defense News.

Bottom line: This project is driven by politics and pork.

I get it. Our elected representatives and those elected representatives in the districts where Lockheed Martin and other military defense contractors are based want the money and the jobs that will be created by this project.

However, as residents and taxpayers, we should say thanks but no thanks. Instead of increased military spending (on a project that is not even a high military priority and based on old technology), what we really need is funding for infrastructure, affordable housing, and health/social services.

My father was a career Navy man, a Chief Boatswains Mate who served honorably for over 30 years. I have friends and relatives who are veterans and who now serve in the Middle East. I am proud and thankful for their service, and I believe the United States must maintain a strong defense.

The amount of money spent globally on militarism is obscene. According to numerous public sources, annual military spending by the United States was $732 billion in 2019 and accounted for 38 percent of global military expenditures. China was second at $261 billion followed by India at $71 billion and Russia in fourth place at $65.1 billion. For some context: North Korea spent $3.6 billion, Iran spent between $12 and $20 billion, and Afghanistan $0.23 billion.

In addition to far out-spending virtually every other country in the world, the U.S. also is the top seller of military arms on the planet.

The United States was the largest exporter of major arms from 2015-2019, delivering 76 percent more material than runner-up Russia. According to a Stockholm International Peace Research Institute study reported in Defense News, “The U.S. provided major arms — defined as air defense systems, armored vehicles, missiles, and satellites, among other material — to 96 countries in those five years, with half of the weapons going to the Middle East.”

Kauai and all Hawaii can and should lead on this by simply saying, no. We don’t need, nor do we want to be part of this madness. Use the $1.9 billion for education, healthcare, and housing – please.

The Missile Defense Agency is sponsoring a scoping session prior to preparing a draft EIS for the radar project. It closes on April 12. Its purpose is to select one of 3 sites for the radar; Kahuku Training Area on Oahu, PMRF, or No Action Alternative (the right choice). The public is invited to testify, and they are especially interested in environmental and cultural inputs.

How to testify:
By Email; Subject Line: MDA HDR-H EIS
By Phone (4 minutes only) 1-888-473-6650

About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person and does not represent the official position of any organization I may be affiliated with. I presently serve as volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) I am the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In another past life, I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator, and Majority Leader, and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. Please visit my website AND sign up for my newsletter (unlike any email newsletter you have ever gotten, of that I am sure) - “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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