Former defense industry lobbyist Mark Esper, in his current capacity as Secretary of Defense, diverted a billion dollars intended for medical supplies to procurement of body armor, dress uniforms, jet engine parts, and other goodies to keep his fellow contractors in business.
Among the awards: $183 million to firms including Rolls-Royce and ArcelorMittal to maintain the shipbuilding industry; tens of millions of dollars for satellite, drone and space surveillance technology; $80 million to a Kansas aircraft parts business suffering from the Boeing 737 Max grounding and the global slowdown in air travel; and $2 million for a domestic manufacturer of Army dress uniform fabric.
The Department of Defense has long been coddled relative to accountability. Its audits are billions of dollars off. It’s a symptom of our willingness to turn to military force before considering other options when we disagree with other countries. It predates the Trumpies. And now Donald Trump’s arms control envoy is advocating an arms race to “spend Russia into the ground.”
I like to think that the pandemic will make us rethink a great many things, and this penchant for violent action and shoveling money into the Pentagon is one of them.