The New Red Scare

From Andrew Cockburn:

“Welcome to the world of strategic analysis,” Ivan Selin used to tell his team during the Sixties, “where we program weapons that don’t work to meet threats that don’t exist.” Selin, who would spend the following decades as a powerful behind-the-scenes player in the Washington mandarinate, was then the director of the Strategic Forces Division in the Pentagon’s Office of Systems Analysis. “I was a twenty-eight-year-old wiseass when I started saying that,” he told me, reminiscing about those days. “I thought the issues we were dealing with were so serious, they could use a little levity.”

His analysts, a group of formidable young technocrats, were known as the Whiz Kids. Their iconoclastic reports on military budgets and programs, conveyed directly to the secretary of defense, regularly earned the ire of the Pentagon bureaucracy. Among them was Pierre Sprey, who later helped to develop the F-16 and A-10 warplanes. He emphatically confirmed his old boss’s observation about chimerical threats. “It was true for all the big-ticket weapons programs,” he told me recently. “But although we pissed off the generals and admirals, we couldn’t stop their threat-inflating, and their nonworking weapons continued to be produced in huge quantities. Of course,” he added with a laugh, “the art of creating threats has advanced tremendously since that primitive era.”

It’s long, but necessary reading to understand how the US Military/Industrial complex has been using Russia as a foil to justify budgetary largess since WWII.


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