Trump Dredging the Swamp to Empower the Worst Elements of the ‘Shadow World’ (2/5)
In part two, Andrew Feinstein says the Trump administration will continue the revolving door between government and defense contractors
JAISAL NOOR: Now, actually, I wanted to ask you about the F-35 because Donald Trump, who’s our President-elect, he ran on a populist, anti-war platform — at least that was part of his appeal. He often falsely claimed he opposed interventions in Libya and Iraq. He recently tweeted out against the out-of-control spending on the F-35 which caused the stock of Lockheed Martin to drop by $2 billion. At the same time, he’s appointed people like James “Mad Dog” Mattis, who is on the board of major defense contractors, to his administration. And your film really spans both Democratic and Republican administrations. Can you talk a little bit about that, that revolving door, as you referred to it?
ANDREW FEINSTEIN: Sure. Yeah. Look, I think Trump is a good place to start and just sort of work backwards. We don’t know what he’s going to do. It seems to be that he changes his mind on a sort of daily basis. He has said a few, actually ,quite constructive things about the F-35. He’s pointed out that it’s a complete waste of money. But once he’s actually in office, given his background as a billionaire — as somebody who’s incredibly proud of the fact that he hasn’t paid much tax in his life — as somebody who believes that everything is about a great deal and that he’s the greatest dealmaker on the planet, my fear is that any instincts he may have about being a little less war-like and militaristic than some of his predecessors, are going to be overwhelmed by the demands of what has — since the ’60s, since Dwight Eisenhower — been called the military-industrial, and Eisenhower thought, at some point, congressional complex. This sort of confluence of interests between Capitol Hill, the defense companies, the military, intelligence agency and individual arms dealers.
And, you know, Trump hasn’t been above what could be described of pretty corrupt practices in his business career. And this industry thrives on corruption, as I said, accounting for around 40% of all corruption in global trade. My fear is that it’s going to be too difficult for him to resist actually getting his hands into this industry. And when he realizes the scale of it and the sort of patronage network that exists, I would be very surprised if he doesn’t go the root of virtually every President in US history, which is to ensure that the Pentagon taps are always on full, they’re fully open, that billions and billions of dollars goes pouring into the defense contractors to make weaponry, often very poor weaponry — often inappropriate weaponry for what is actually needed or is delivered years and years late, massively over budget. And the reason that that happens is exactly because of that revolving door — the movement of people between government, the defense contractors, the military, the intelligence agencies and individual arms dealing.
And when you see his national security appointments, as you’ve already highlighted, these are people who’ve been an intimate part of the military-industrial complex. They’re not suddenly going to arrive at the apex of power in Washington and say, “Oh well, that’s all in the past. I’m no longer interested in making money out of the defense sector,” because the primary example that we have is Mike Pence’s hero as a Vice President, Dick Cheney.
You know, Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon. He then became Chief Executive Officer of Halliburton, one of the United States’ biggest defense contractors in military service companies. While he was in that position at Halliburton, they wrote a report for the Pentagon in which they suggested you could basically privatize all functions of war. That it would be more effectively done by private companies. He then comes back into office as Vice President, the cheerleader for the invasion of Iraq. And Halliburton, his former company, in which he still owns hundreds of thousands, if not millions of shares, then makes literally anywhere between $18- and $36-billion out of the invasion of Iraq, in the process making Dick Cheney an even richer man while he’s serving as Vice President of the United States of America.
So given that sort of model, given the fact that the United States accounts for around 40% of all military spending in the world — making it by far the most dominant military force in the world, by far the biggest manufacturer of weaponry and purveyor of weaponry around the world, involved in more conflicts than any other nation on the planet — I think I would be enormously surprised if we were going to see significant change. Because I think the nature of the military-industrial complex is so systemic and is so deeply entrenched in Washington, and nothing that I’ve seen or heard from Donald Trump, besides his one tweet about the F-35, has suggested to me in any way that his real interest is cleaning up what he calls “the swamp of DC.”
Instead, what I can well imagine, is him contributing new and innovative ways to make that swamp even darker, even muddier and even more profitable for him and his friends.