The Military Industrial Complex’s "Lovely War"
Updated: Feb 8
Regardless whether there’s a last-minute agreement between the US/Nato and Russia that prevents a war in Ukraine, the one party who has already won is the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). As the saber rattling intensifies pushing up the level of hawkish bellicosity the MIC is already envisioning a near future governmental monetary windfall.
After the Russian armed forces’ recent hands-on experiences in Crimea, Syria and cameo “crowd control” mission in Kazakhstan, Putin’s resurrected vastly improved and upgraded armed forces have gone to the next level and encircled Ukraine. It’s a pocket version of the Soviet military, but good enough to serve his purposes to achieve the necessary buffer zones in the Near Abroad.
Furthermore, it’s not far-fetched that certain elements of the Russian military brass are biting at the bit to try out their new “toys” against the best that the US/Nato has to offer.
After losing many former Soviet-block countries to Nato membership since Putin’s ascension to the Russian presidency in 1999, Ukraine represents Russia’s “jewel in the crown” that is at the cusp of being enveloped by more than just western values. For Putin, Ukraine is personal.
For the purposes of reversing Russia’s military’s embarrassing impotence during the early 2000s because of antiquated often non-operable equipment, today Russia is going “all in” with their modern military hardware and software.
For this reason the MIC and arms dealers are biting at the bit to find out Russia’s battlefield performance with modern homegrown equipment and operated by Russians, not proxies, under actual battle conditions. Slim Pickens’s “toe to toe with the Ruskies” comment in Dr. Strangelove is accurate not quite but close enough.
The following comparative chart entitled the Russia-Ukrainian Military Imbalance provided by GlobalFirepower underscores the gross inequities in ground, aerial and naval categories.
Ukraine’s Soviet-era equipment has been upgraded but falls far short of the 21st century Russian modern equipment and firepower. For this reason before Ukraine is re-equipped with technologically equivalent materiel thus this eliminating any military option, Putin feels compelled to take military action sooner than later among many other reasons.
It goes without saying, regardless of the country, Russia being not exception, the military brass is anxious to try out their new “toys” especially against “a worthy adversary” since Ukrainian defenses will be supplemented by non-combat US/Nato surveillance.
The MIC observations and assessments extend to Russian military tactical strategies, execution and interoperability with ground and aerial forces supported by cyber-tools. These capabilities will be tested against Ukrainian forces whose overall defenses have been furnished by US/Nato forces and supported by non-combat surveillance technicians which is far more robust than terrorists’ weaponry in faraway failed states.
Russian military aggression in Europe and subjugation of a sovereign neighboring non-Nato European country not only invigorates Nato’s mission but also awakens the MIC. The MIC will leverage this scenario to justify requesting over-the-top funding for the purposes of preventing a domino effect in Europe against the usual boogeymen: Russia and Communism. Ironically this justification comes at a time when many democracies themselves are becoming increasingly authoritarian with heavy-handed policies on their own citizenry because of the pandemic.
Any Russian aggression would provide long-awaited answers to the whispers in dark corners that provides an up-close opportunity of how the Russians would conduct an actual large-scale military operation using their most advanced equipment.
The largest defense contractors include Boeing, Northrup Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon Industries and Lockheed Martin are necessary and represent the tip of the spear to protect America in a dangerous world with highly capable and motivated enemies such as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea but their financial avarice is legendary. Think of the billions wasted resulting in a negative return on investment during our endless wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan over several administrations.
The following chart entitled The World’s Largest Arms-Producing Companies provided by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Increased governmental funding for MIC initiatives will inevitably “crowd out” funding for much needed infrastructure, healthcare and education from a shrinking budgetary pie. This is akin to ironically the Russian story about the father who returns home to tell his children that his wages have been slashed. The children then ask the father, “Does that mean you’ll drink less?” to which the father replies, “No. It means that you’ll eat less.”
Even if there’s a modest increase in US government funding for MIC projects, it would still grease the continued depletion of meager domestic resources as Americans suffer a greater degradation of quality of life.
To offset an extended period of reduced Russian exports to highly reliant Eu countries, the US government might be compelled to ship energy resources triggering a spike in domestic energy prices for all sectors.
In sum a US defense industry that has been unable to reign in costs, will request and probably receive generous US government funding. Trophy weaponry to defend US allies overseas ignores a hollowed out American economy and restive citizenry for capitalistic purposes under the guise of righteous ideology.
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The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that provides prescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments on geopolitical dynamics and global urban security.