Scott Horton Interviews Winslow T. Wheeler

Scott Horton, June 13, 2009

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Winslow T. Wheeler, Director of the Straus Military Reform Project, discusses the fight between Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Congress over the Pentagon budget, the neglect of U.S. combat training in favor of expensive weapons systems, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst study of military spending and job creation and how Congress would rather chase Pentagon pork than perform its oversight obligations.

MP3 here. (23:20)

Winslow T. Wheeler writes regularly for Counterpunch.org, where his article “Back From the Dead: Pentagon Pork!” appears. Wheeler spent 31 years working on Capitol Hill with senators from both political parties and the Government Accountability Office, specializing in national security affairs. Currently, he directs the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information in Washington. He is author of The Wastrels of Defense and the editor of a new anthology: ‘America’s Defense Meltdown: Pentagon Reform for President Obama and the New Congress’.

In the Senate, Wheeler worked for Jacob K. Javits, R-N.Y., Nancy L. Kassebaum, R-Kan., David Pryor, D-Ark., and Pete V. Domenici, R-N.M.  He was the first, and according to Senate records the last, Senate staffer to work simultaneously on the personal staffs of a Republican and a Democrat (Sens. Pryor and Kassebaum). In 2002, Wheeler authored an essay, under the pseudonym “Spartacus,” about Congress’ reaction to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks (“Mr. Smith Is Dead: No One Stands in the Way as Congress Lards Post-September 11 Defense Bills with Pork”). When Senators complained about Wheeler’s criticisms, he was invited to resign from his position with the Republican staff of the Senate Budget Committee. He is now a senior fellow and director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information.

Wheeler authored a 2002 essay on Congress’ authorization of war against Iraq, “The Week of Shame: Congress Wilts as the President Demands an Unclogged Road to War,” and he wrote various commentaries on Congress and national security, which have appeared in The Washington Post, Proceedings of the Naval Institute, Government Executive, Defense Week, Barron’s, Army Times, CounterPunch, and elsewhere. As a Senate staffer, Wheeler worked extensively on hundreds of bills and amendments that are now U.S. law. These included the War Powers Act, multiple proposals to reform Pentagon procurement, and to require more realistic weapons tests and more accurate reports about them to the secretary of defense and Congress. While at the GAO, Wheeler directed comprehensive studies on the U.S. strategic-nuclear triad and the air campaign of Operation Desert Storm. Both studies found compelling evidence that prevailing conventional wisdom about the performance of both U.S. and foreign weapons systems, such as Soviet strategic nuclear delivery systems and U.S. “high tech” tactical weapons, was highly inflated and unsupported by the evidence available in the Department of Defense.

4 Responses to “Winslow T. Wheeler”

  1. The most expensive post on the Pentagon budget are the anti-missile missiles in Poland. Listen to Scott Ritter on antiwar radio. The Pentagon aims to achieve a disarming first-strike capability. This leads to Russian Launch On Warning and Nuclear War by mistake. Bloody fools in the Pentagon as Brigadier Harbottle so correctly stated. Trident missile engineer Bob Aldridge-http://www.plrc.org-resigned because a disarming and unanswerable first-strike capability is suicidal.

  2. Yes, no one knows what the USA may put in those silos. Sanders Research had a great article about those bases, which are really an effort just to plant the flag of the empire in two more nations.

  3. Yes but according to Ritter the US can already more than adequately destroy 90% of Russia’s nuclear arsenal in a first strike with second and third strikes to follow. Ritter states that the US does not believe in MAD it believes in nuclear supremacy. With this in mind it might pay to investigate whether or not the AMS is simply a political bargaining chip.

  4. Wheeler's comments about the F-22/F-35 acquisition programs is typical of the non-strategic thinkers who similar criticized the F-15/F-16/FA-18 acquisitions of the '80's/90's. The F-22's were the first new fighter design purchased by the USAF in over 20 years! It replacing a 60's era design aircraft that are literally falling out of the sky whose maintenance costs have long since surpassed its operating costs. The F-35 program is replacing 3 separate elderly aircraft from the '70's design era who are facing similar rising maintenance costs: F-16/FA-18/AV-8B. The military isn't buying these aircraft to fight today's air battles, they are buying them to fight the likely air battles of 2015-2040. Just prior to the start of WW2, the German military planners told Hitler that the US was militarily backwards in the technological sense and the British were unwilling to spend money on developing jet engine technology. No one pushed Hitler into invading Poland or the former Czechoslovakia . He did it because he was a megalomaniac who had ambitions of being the new Caesar. That is, of course, besides the fact that the financing of Hitler's military build-up was done by the treasonous Prescott Bush and Co. The modern military/security industrial complex was built in a day and to demolish it is likely going to take just as long.

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