Report: Executive Summary – About Face – World Policy Institute – Research Project


About Face:
The Role of the Arms Lobby In the Bush Administration’s Radical Reversal of Two Decades of U.S. Nuclear Policy

A World Policy Institute Special Report
by William D. Hartung with Jonathan Reingold
May 2002


A Nuclear Policy-Making Process that Cries Out for Scrutiny

How did it happen that within less than a year of taking office, the Bush administration reversed the nuclear arms policy of the preceding three Presidents? How did United States policy abruptly shift from seeking to reduce US reliance on nuclear weapons to making the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons a central component of US strategy? How did nuclear “war-fighting” doctrine, rejected by Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton, become the centerpiece of the new administration’s official nuclear weapons policy?

The answer lies with the undue influence exercised upon the Bush administration by former defense industry executives, many of whom are now in policy-making positions at the White House and the Pentagon, the defense contracting companies they once ran, and a small circle of conservative ideologues at think tanks funded by those companies. There appears to be no relationship between President George Bush’s return to dead-and-buried policy ideas and any realistic assessment of U.S. security requirements.

More than any administration in recent memory, the Bush administration has relied upon individuals with close professional and financial connections to the arms industry to fill top foreign policy and national security positions. A World Policy Institute review of top appointees to cabinet-level agencies and the White House staff has revealed that 32 major appointees of the administration are former executives, consultants, or major shareholders of top defense contractors, a figure one and one-half times as high as the number of major appointees drawn from the energy sector. Many of these executives are well-placed to help their firms benefit from the Bush nuclear policy.

Just as Vice President Dick Cheney’s reliance on energy industry executives to draft a national energy policy has drawn widespread criticism, the role of the arms lobby in shaping the Bush administration’s nuclear plans demands far greater public scrutiny. The stakes are far higher.

I. Back to the Future: Making the World Safe for Nuclear Weapons?

Far from representing new thinking, the Pentagon’s nuclear posture review recommends a return to nuclear war-fighting doctrines that have been out of favor for nearly two decades, ever since they were disavowed by Ronald Reagan in the mid-1980s. While it is true that President George W. Bush has pledged to reduce deployed U.S. nuclear weapons, the potential benefits of this proposal are far outweighed by the risks posed by the administration’s plans to dramatically expand the scenarios in which U.S. nuclear weapons might be used in some future conflict.

This new nuclear war-fighting posture is more than just rhetoric: it is accompanied by proposals to spend billions of dollars to generate the capability to develop, test, and produce a new generation of more “usable” nuclear weapons systems.

II. The Bottom Line: Who Will Benefit?

Whether or not it makes sense as a defense strategy, the emerging Bush nuclear doctrine will be good for major arms contractors that stand to gain billions of dollars in new business helping to implement the administration’s vision of a new strategic triad.

The New Triad includes 1) A new generation of offensive strike systems (nuclear and non-nuclear); 2) Strategic defenses; and 3) A revitalized defense infrastructure. The World Policy Institute estimates that the Pentagon has already added $8.3 billion to the 2002 and 2003 budgets for projects related to the New Triad, with at least $33 billion in additional expenditures likely between 2004 and 2008. A handful of major contractors will be the main beneficiaries of this new spending

***Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin will profit from a
renewed emphasis on long-range precision strike systems.

***General Dynamics will benefit from $4 billion in new funds slated for refurbishing 4 Trident submarines to carry long-range conventional strike systems.

***The “Big Four” missile defense contractors – Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and TRW – will carve up the majority of funds allocated for the administration’s multi-tiered ballistic missile defense system, which could cost as much as $238 billion to develop, deploy, and maintain over the next two decades. Northrop Grumman’s effort to acquire TRW via a hostile takeover is motivated in significant part by a desire to secure more ballistic missile defense contracts.

***Last but not least, companies like Bechtel, Lockheed Martin, and Honeywell that are involved in operating nuclear weapons research and testing sites will cash in on the billions slated to modernize the nation’s nuclear weapons complex.

III. Through the Revolving Door: Defense Industry Executives in the Bush Administration

Some examples:

Lockheed Martin has eight former associates or major investors in the admini- stration, including Everet Beckner, who will oversee the expansion of the nuclear weapons complex as the director of atomic energy defense programs at the National Nuclear Security Agency, and Peter B. Teets, who will be in charge of procuring military space assets in his post as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force.

Former Northrop Grumman Vice President and current Secretary of the Air Force James Roche will be heavily involved in decisions about long-range strike systems, which are of considerable financial interest to his former company.

Secretary of the Navy and former General Dynamics executive Gordon England will oversee decisions about the future of key systems like the Trident submarine, which is built at General Dynamics Electric Boat facility in Groton, Connecticut.

Influential members of Congress like Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), Trent Lott (R-MS), Sen. Richard Shelby(R-AL), Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), and Norman Dicks (D-WA) have been among the prime beneficiaries of the more than $12 million in political donations made by the top ten nuclear weapons and missile defense contractors during the 1999/2000 and 2001/2002 election cycles.

IV. Closing the Circle: The Role of Corporate-Backed Think Tanks

The key outlines of the new Bush nuclear doctrine were developed by corporate -financed think tanks like the National Institute for Public Policy (NIPP), directed by long-time nuclear war-fighting strategist Dr. Keith Payne, and the Center for Security Policy (CSP), founded by former Reagan Pentagon official and dogged missile defense booster Frank Gaffney. Both NIPP and CSP acknowledge receiving corporate donations, but so far only CSP has been willing to disclose the identities of key corporate donors. According to recent annual reports, the Center for Security Policy has received over $3 million in donations since its founding – representing more than 25% of its total budget — from corporate contributors, including major weapons contractors like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. Both the Center and NIPP have arms industry executives on their boards.

Both think tanks have close ties to the Bush administration. CSP’s latest annual report cites 22 former advisory board members or close associates who have been appointed to posts in the Bush administration, including Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, Pentagon Comptroller Dov Zakheim, Assistant Secretary of Defense J.D. Crouch, Secretary of the Air Force James Roche, and Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle.

As for NIPP, three members of the study group that produced its January 2001 report “Rationale and Requirements for U.S. Nuclear Forces and Arms Control,” which served as a model for the Bush administration’s nuclear posture review, are now in influential positions relating to nuclear policy: National Security Council members Stephen Hadley and Robert Joseph and special assistant to the Secretary of Defense Stephen Cambone. In October 2001, NIPP director Keith Payne – who is probably best known for his infamous 1980 essay on nuclear war, “Victory Is Possible” – was appointed to head the Pentagon’s Deterrence Concepts Advisory Panel, which will help the Pentagon to implement the Nuclear Posture Review.

The clout of these corporate-backed conservative think tanks within the Bush administration was perhaps best demonstrated by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in his remarks at the Center for Security Policy’s November 2001 “Keeper of the Flame” awards fundraising dinner, “Frank, if there was ever any doubt about the power of your ideas, one only has to look at the number of Center associates who people this administration . . . I was thinking of calling a staff meeting, but I think I’ll wait until tomorrow morning.”

Contact the Author at:
Arms Trade Resource Center
World Policy Institute at the New School
66 Fifth avenue, 9th floor
New York, NY 10011
tel.212.229.5808. ext.106


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