The Mises Institute monthly, free with membership

Sort archived Free Market articles by: Title | Author | Article Date | Subject

April 1995
Volume 13, Number 4

The Green Pentagon
Justin Raimondo

If you thought the end of the Cold War would mean the death of "defense" socialism, or even the shrinking of the massive Pentagon bureaucracy that has been choking off and diverting the productive sector of the economy since World War II, then think again.

No bureaucracy gives up its power and privileges voluntarily, and in the post-Cold War era the military establishment and the arms industry have been dressing up their expenditures to appeal to the "green" sensibilities of the baby boomer generation.

"What Has Five Sides and Is Turning Green?" asked the New York Times in a story that chronicled the transformation of the Pentagon into a politically correct crusader for Mother Earth. The military is now officially against global warming as well as for global "democracy."

Pentagon workers, we are told, "will soon be treading on carpets made of natural fibers." For a mere $1.2 billion, "trees and green spaces" will dot "the vast parking lots." All the windows will be replaced with specially tinted ones; automatic sensors will be installed in rest rooms to conserve water.

Kathleen McGinty, the White House director of environmental policy, claims that the costs will be recouped in three years. Aren't they always? "The idea is to save money and gain environmental benefits all at the same time." This rosy scenario is based on dubious projections made by those "green" consultants who are profiting from government contracts.

But McGinty's cost-consciousness has to be seen in light of her original proposal, which included decorative atriums in the Pentagon's inner courtyards. The idea that was rejected, we are told, because "atriums would appear extravagant in these tight-budget times."

This is the extent of the new fiscal "austerity" in Washington. When it comes to the Pentagon: no new atriums. The extensive renovation involves five phases and tens of thousands of people; maintaining security alone will bust the budget.

The claim of savings is based on the experience of the Post Office with this "green technology"; postal officials say that better lighting in their Reno office "helped make the mail sorters there the most productive in the Western United States."

Productive compared to what? Why, other postal workers, of course, whose follies and foibles have become a metaphor for waste, inefficiency, and sheer laziness.

Of course, it won't save a dime. But that's not the purpose. The greening of the Pentagon is designed to sell military spending to the baby-boomers, who marched against the Vietnam War and vowed not to study war no more.

Instead of fighting Communism, the Pentagon and its industrial satellites are battling holes in the ozone layer. While U.S. troops police the world from Haiti to Macedonia, the once-anti-war boomers are made to feel good because the interventions are planned in a giant office building where they worry about the "Greenhouse Effect."

The bipartisan arms build-up now being pushed through the new Congress, with President Clinton's support, envisions an American military machine geared up to fight two major wars simultaneously. But where is the military threat to the United States?

That the Green-Clintonian-GOP coalition is busy pushing what the Times called "military spending that the editors of the Whole Earth Catalog might well approve of" illustrates a vital point made by Old Right journalist and anti-war activist John T. Flynn, in his classic work As We Go Marching.

When the fantastic extravagance of FDR and his New Dealers reached the point of no return, Flynn wrote, "there is always one kind of project that breaks down resistance--which particularly breaks down resistance among the very conservative groups who are most vocal against government spending. That is national defense. The one sure and easiest way to command national assent from all groups is to ask it for national defense."

That's been true for most of this century, but the fiascoes in Haiti and Somalia have begun to change public perceptions of the military bureaucracy. If the leaders of these tiny countries are our enemies, we are fighting a menace that no longer exists. By dressing up in the green robes of anti-capitalist environmentalism, the Pentagon bureaucracy contributes further to its own demise. Someday, the price of "national defense" will go down, instead of always up and up.

-------------------------------------------

Justin Raimondo is author of Reclaiming the American Right

Back

Image of Mises Coat of Arms Ludwig von Mises Institute
518 West Magnolia Avenue
Auburn, Alabama 36832-4528

334.321.2100 Phone
334.321.2119 Fax
contact@mises.org
AOL-IM: MainMises

Contact us button
Mises.org Menu