Congress recently struck down an amendment to the debt ceiling extension bill to prohibit the sale of military armament to Egypt by a 79 to 19 vote. The amendment was introduced by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) in an effort to block all current and remaining sales.
Now – follow the money. The most recent sale was for 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits at the price of $1.3 billion, approved in August of 2011. These tanks went to Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. The 24 F-16 fighter jets, approved in October of 2009, was when Hosni Mubarak was still President. For this illustration, we will focus on the tanks. Why did Paul’s block to the sale fail?
There is a bi-partisan alliance being created in Washington, but it’s not what you think. It is their alliance with each other, counting on the ignorance of Americans. They have made agreements of sorts to attack each other in order to pass the buck about what is really going on – and it’s all about the Benjamins.
The fact is we have none. It is no surprise that our nation is broke. Many have warned us, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense, that our “national debt poses the greatest threat to our national security.” Here’s why.
The American government is under contract to buy a certain amount of military hardware. These contracts are with companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, and others. These are multi-year agreements that cannot be broken. I’ll use tanks to highlight the current dilemma with Egypt.
In the 2012 defense appropriations bill, Congress provided an additional $255 million to the Army to buy 42 more tanks that the Army did not need. The money was intended to keep the General Dynamics Land Systems’ production line open in Lima, Ohio.
According to Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, this is still 28 tanks shy of what is need to keep the plant open. It would cost the Army up to $800 million to close and later reopen the plant, which would be less than the $3 billion to keep it open during the same time. The solution – continue to sell the difference.
This is not new. In the past, the way we made up the deficit was to sell them to our allies. It was a win-win. We already have a mutual aid treaty with them by our common membership in NATO; so if they are more armed, it was in our national interest. Plus it gave us the ability to continue to purchase enough military hardware to keep the defense sector thriving.
Here’s the problem: Egypt is not an Ally. They are a mutual partner with whom we have had a good relationship since the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Accord of 1979. We have been selling tanks to Egypt for so long, we now co-op build the Abrams tanks – in Egypt. Specifically, we purchase them from General Dynamics who makes initial parts here, then they are shipped to Egypt for the final parts made there, and then they are assembled.
In 2011, if Congress would have not purchased the extra tanks and sold the remainder, the plant would have shut down. This would have put thousands of people in the unemployment lines during Obama’s re-election – most in Republican districts. The job losses would have looked bad for both the White House and Republicans, so the sale was approved against the recommendations of senior defense officials.
This is a money problem.
The exact thing has just happened again. Except this time, Egypt added a little pressure. The Muslim Brotherhood stated “what was acceptable before the revolution is no longer”, implying that if the US cuts aid, then they would not be so motivated to abide by the peace accord.
Enter now the deal with the devil. Congress caved. Some things cannot be undone – and this is one of them. This may sound like the possibility of a perfect storm. But when we as a Nation begin to negotiate aid with a foreign power via a threat of war, I see it more as an inevitable super-storm.
We have been paying off our enemies for decades, and we are now out of money. Our nation is almost bankrupt; and similar to our own family finances when we do not have enough money, payday advances and bad credit become a very real solution – and a very poor decision made out of financial duress.
Our nation is currently in the same predicament. Our poor defense decisions are only compounding the problem of national security we already had with North Korea, Iran, and China. We no longer are able to stand strong because we are weak, and the world knows it.
If Congress were to have blocked the sale, how do you think the thousands of American workers would feel to be out of a job? It is inevitable; it will get worse before it gets better. The scary part is since we have been subsidizing the problem for the last 10 years, I fear the worst of it has not yet even begun.
Every time we have hit a problem, we have paid our way through it. The bailouts, the stimulus, and quantitative easing have come and gone; and the treasury is running out of ink. This was not an Egypt problem. This was not a defense problem. This is a debt problem that has becomea defense problem.
Soon, I fear, it will be everyone’s problem.