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Governing "Under the Influence" of Pentagon Contractors

PHOTO: A security expert speaks Wednesday at UNH Durham on how lawmakers are governing under the influence of Pentagon contractors, and says the F-35 fighter is a good example of excessive spending and misplaced priorities. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force.
PHOTO: A security expert speaks Wednesday at UNH Durham on how lawmakers are governing under the influence of Pentagon contractors, and says the F-35 fighter is a good example of excessive spending and misplaced priorities. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force.
April 7, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. - There's no shortage of lawmakers calling for more military spending, but a security expert says New Hampshire and the nation would be better served by focusing on the real needs of Americans.

Bill Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, says the military is already well provided for, even when it comes to fighting against some of the most active agents of international terrorism.

"For the war against ISIS they are asking for a little over $5 billion dollars, which is only about one percent of their total resources," he says. "So the idea that somehow we need this for ISIS doesn't really hold up to the reality of the budget."

Hartung will be speaking on how he says lawmakers are governing under the influence of Pentagon contractors Wednesday at UNH Durham at 7 p.m. He says those contractors tend to be bipartisan donors, and have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars, directly and through PACs, to both of the state's senators in recent years.

Eric Zulaski, grassroots education coordinator with the American Friends Service Committee, says the F-35 fighter plane is a good example of how political donations have lawmakers more focused on the desires of military contractors than the real needs of Americans.

"They allocated money for more aircraft than the Pentagon even requested," he says. "So now we're going to have five more F-35s than the Pentagon even wants, and more Abrams tanks."

Hartung says all of this spending tilts the scale in favor of militarization over diplomacy.

"The Pentagon gets about 12 times as much as the State Department does," he says. "There's more personnel in one of the U.S. aircraft carrier strike forces than we have trained diplomats in our entire State Department, so we are kind of underinvesting in diplomacy."

U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is expected to clarify his intention to run for president this week with a noon rally in Milford on Wednesday. The American Friends Service Committee is encouraging Granite State residents to engage the candidates on issues such as excessive corporate influence on national policy.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH