Frida Berrigan

Can Obama Take on the Pentagon?


Frida Berrigan, co-author of the article “Who Rules the Pentagon?”, discusses Obama’s distinctly non-reformist national security team, the need to reevaluate the meaning of “national defense” amidst a U.S. empire of bases, the struggle between realists and neocons over weapons procurement dollars and the public relations campaign of defense contractors to base Pentagon funding on a percentage of GDP.

MP3 here. (35:17)

Frida Berrigan is Senior Program Associate of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation. Previously, she served for eight years as Deputy Director and Senior Research Associate at the Arms Trade Resource Center at the World Policy Institute at the New School in New York City. She has also worked as a researcher at The Nation magazine.

11 thoughts on “Frida Berrigan”

  1. I find it interesting that conservatives consistently scream for the reduction of government bureaucracy, but they do not ever ask for the reduction in Pentagon bureaucracy. The Pentagon is the biggest building and bureaucracy in the world but they don’t reduce, why?
    I asked a military friend about this and we agreed that the most likely reason is that the Pentagon is so corrupt that though we are for supplying our troops with the proper tools, it would be the grunts who get shafted the most by a DoD budget cut. The contractors and top brass will protect their pieces of the pie and the common soldier would get the least. Why don’t we have Congressional committees that will look for waste and corruption in the DoD.
    The Pentagon and military system is at fault as much as Congress. Upper brass get their promotions based on their abilities to make weapon systems happen (regardless of effectiveness). They aren’t promoted by the quality of weaponry, just how efficiently the weaponry makes its way through the system. The successful people in the Pentagon seem to be the ones who are best at gaming the system and not who are best at combat, strategy and logistics.
    The Pentagon needs a major overhaul. If we want to reduce federal spending and waste, the biggest source of waste is that 5 sided building.

  2. Hmmm…The real question may be; ” can Obama take on the CIA ?”..The Taliban’s biggest mistake may have been to outlaw opium production in ’00..As the CIA ( and Pakistan’s ISI ) had been allied w/the opium-heroin drug lords in Afghan/Pakistan that made the Taliban some powerful enemies…Their 2nd mistake was to not partner with Unocal to build the natural gas pipeline across Afghanistan..That pissed off Unocal, Halliburton-KBR and Dick Cheney…as you know DOD couldn’t go into Afghan until the CIA ” laid all the groundwork..” No, the CIA doesn’t handle the drugs..they just provide arms and political protection..And now you know ” the rest of the story..”

  3. The Taliban were totally involved in completing a civil war in their country…9-11 and Al-Queda just provided the American oligarchy with a ( very convenient ) excuse to invade Afghanistan and then Iraq ( which had even less to do w/9-11 than Afghanistan and the Taliban..)

  4. Groan. I can’t believe the legendary Nimrod is still commenting regularly.

    That was a good show, Scott. It would be good I think if you got a real expert on arms and military spending on – to go over how unnecessary most of the weapons and aircraft are – considering no other countries are spending anything. Jon Basil Utley (I think) went over it a bit on your show but you should do a real comprehensive rundown of the discrepancy between what’s ‘needed’, what’s there and what’s coming. BOONDOGGLE galore.

  5. Historian Alfred McCoy; ” Within two yrs of the onslaught of the CIA operation in Afghanistan ( after the Soviet invasion-LB ) the Pakistan-Afghan borderlands became the world’s top heroin producer”..Soon, ” CIA assets again controlled the heroin trade..As the mujahideen guerillas seized territory inside Afghanistan, they ordered peasants to plant poppies as a revolutionary tax..Across the border in Pakistan, Afghan leaders and local syndicates under the protection of Pakistan Intelligence operated hundreds of heroin labs..”

  6. After ” Soon, ” assets again controlled…” was a quote fm Professor Michael Chossudovsky…During his research Professor MCCoy discovered that, ” the CIA supported various Afghan drug lords, including Gulbuddin Hekmatyar..The CIA did not handle the heroin, but it did provide it’s drug lord allies with transport, arms and political protection..”
    By 1994 a new force emerged in the region, the Taliban-that took over the drug trade..Professor Chossudovsky again discovered that ” the Americans had secretly supported the Taliban’s assumption of power..” These strange bedfellows endured a rocky relationship until July 2000 when Taliban leaders banned the planting of poppies..This alarming development along with other disagreements over proposed oil pipelines through Eurasia, posed a serious problem for power centers in the West..Without heroin money at their disposal, billions of dollars could not be funneled into various CIA black budget projects..

  7. Afghanistan NOW supplies over 90% of the world’s heroin, generating nearly $200 billion in revenue..since the US invasion on Oct. 7th, ’01 opium output has increased 33-fold ( to over 8,250 metric tons a year)..The US has been in Afghan for over 7 yrs, has spent $177 billion in that country alone, and has the most powerful and technologically advanced military on Earth..GPS tracking devices can locate any spot imaginable by simply pushing a few buttons..
    Still bumper crops keep flourishing year after year..even though heroin production is a laborious, intricate process..The poppies must be planted, grown and harvested; then after the morphine is extracted it has to be cooked, refined, packaged into bricks and transported fm rural locales across national borders..To make heroin fm morphine takes another 12-14 hrs of laborious chemical reactions..thousands of people are involved and yet, despite the massive resources at our disposal-heroin keeps flowing at record levels…

  8. ” Boondoggle” doesn’t come close to describing what we’ve been doing in that region…Not to mention the depleted uranium tipped missiles that have caused one grandfather of a seriously deformed baby to say, ” at least the Soviets just killed some of us, the Americans have poisoned us forever..”

  9. I was aware of the increased opium trade. I have also heard plenty of local/national ads for opiate dependency issues/care. I have tried to get federal stats on opiate use/arrests since 2001 and have not had much success. Supposedly heroin is more of a European drug but I wonder if opiates are being more widely used these days or not (are we funding another opium trade with China?). If we have all these bumper crops where is it going to, illegal drugs or pharmaceutical companies?

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