Fortress America: Why America Lost Its Peace Dividend
After the Cold War Ended

November 29, 1998

Comment: #215


[1] James B. Stewart, New York Times Book Review of "Fortress America" by William Greider, November 29, 1998. Excerpts attached.

William Greider's analysis described in the attached book review can be used to help the reader understand why we have a modernization program that can not modernize the force, our military has a rapidly deteriorating readiness posture, and the Defense Department has evolved a corrupt accounting system that renders it impossible to sort out the first two problems and makes a mockery of the checks and balances of the Constitution.

Chuck Spinney

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Reference #1

New York Times Book Review
November 29, 1998
An examination of how the American arms industry is still thriving years after the cold war ended.
Book Review by JAMES B. STEWART
The American Military and the Consequences of Peace.
By William Greider.
202 pp. New York:
Public Affairs. $22.


Take the B-1 bomber, designed for intercontinental nuclear strikes deep inside the Soviet Union; the United States spent hundreds of billions to build 100 of them. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the bombers were outfitted for conventional weapons, at unspecified additional cost. Yet none were deployed in the Persian Gulf war. They are so expensive to maintain and operate that 27 of them have been mothballed, and the others perform what the Air Force describes as ''global power missions,'' apparently a public relations function. Has this sorry experience killed off the new B-2 bomber, another financial black hole? Even when the B-2's will make the B-1 fleet redundant? When they cost $2 billion each? And when five studies concluded that the Air Force doesn't need them? No...

And what vital interest is all of this supposed to protect? It's all too clear that it was and still is meant to contain the old Soviet Union. Sounding almost nostalgic, Col. Bill Rake of the Air Force tells Greider: ''We knew it was the bear, and we had a purpose. We did the training for the bear. Now the bear might not be there. But somebody might just jump up from behind the door. Iran, Iraq? We don't know.'' This seems insane...

Greider seems to concede that the problem lies not so much with private industry, which is simply and predictably exploiting a policy vacuum to maximize profits for shareholders.

James B. Stewart is the author of ''Blood Sport,'' ''Den of Thieves'' and, most recently, ''Follow the Story: How to Write Successful Nonfiction.''

Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company