In this post, I will explain my theory of how I think the U.S. was complicit in the 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia.
To begin, you must understand that the “defense industry” in the United States is enormous. The United States spends more on “defense” than the next 20 largest military spenders in the world…COMBINED…. It is an enormous amount of money and where there is money there is corruption and greed.
There is an incestuous circle of defense companies lobbying the U.S. military to continue buying their products. They make their pitches to generals, tasked with selecting and approving weapons systems, and to members of the U.S. Congress who must approve the budgeting of money for the purchasing of these weapons.
The reward for members of congress are large campaign contributions from defense contractors. The reward for generals is the promise of a high-paying position on the company’s board of directors when they retire from active duty military service.
There is a fundamental flaw in the way the U.S. approaches defense. Keep in mind that during the Second World War, there was NO defense industry in the United States. Automobile manufacturers switched over to producing vehicles and planes. Maritime ship builders began producing naval vessels. One of the greatest examples of rapidly arming a military ever to occur happened without a “defense” industry. After the war, these companies simply returned to producing automobiles and maritime ships.
The fundamental flaw is this: Virtually all of the major players in the US defense industry are publicly traded, meaning they have shareholders. Shareholders demand a return on investment and if they do not receive a satisfactory return on investment for a long enough period of time, they vote out the board of directors or demand a change in executive leadership. The only way to keep shareholders happy is to grow the business. But, what do you do if your company’s business is producing weapons of death and destruction? What do you do when the militaries of the world are fully stocked with arms and there are no wars, or no large wars depleting their inventory? The answer is: you create new wars, or you create the fear that there may be a war.
Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. military has been primarily engaged in counter-terrorism efforts. Yes, there have been “battles” in Iraq and Afghanistan, but when placed in historical context, these have not been particularly large military operations.
Considering the vast sums of money the US spends on the military, many people, some in very high places began to question if we (the U.S.) really needed to spend multiple billions of dollars on new aircraft carriers, nuclear weapons, the F-35 fighter jet program, etc. In short, with the Cold War now history, the prospects of the U.S. military engaged in a massive land or sea battles with another world power such as China or Russia, seemed to be growing more dim with each passing year.
With this in mind, let us now look at a few key events in 2014.
On February 23rd, 2014, the New York Times published an article with the following headline: “Pentagon Plans to Shrink Army to Pre-World War II Level”. Such a reduction would necessarily drastically reduce the amount of money spent on military equipment. And this represented a real threat to the profits of the defense industry.
The week of February 28th, a mere one week after the Pentagon announced the reduction of the Army’s size, Russian forces entered Crimea. There had been a build up on the border for months, but until this time, there was no incursion into Crimea.
And here is where my “theory” comes in…. I believe that a delegation of congressmen, all addicted to defense industry campaign contributions, reached out through back channels to the Kremlin and stated something similar to this: “We know you very much want to annex Crimea. Perhaps you are concerned about the international response or perhaps even retribution by the United States. In this matter our interests are aligned. We prefer that you do annex Crimea, though as peacefully as possible. Publicly, we (the U.S.), will sharply denounce Russia’s actions, but there will be no tangible response from the U.S.
The purpose of this, I contend, was to justify the statements that followed such as “Russia is back! They have a strong military and are willing to use it! We cannot allow
our military to be shrunk as the Pentagon has suggested. We must maintain our dominant position in the world to keep Russia in check and not allow it to become the dominant military in the world.”
Since 2014, and especially since the election of Donald Trump as president, the only changes to the size of the American military has been to grow it and the plans are to grow it even more.
In corporate boardrooms all across the defense industry, anxiety has been replaced with smiles once again.