September 6, 2013 By Eric Boehm
This just in: The military-industrial complex is a powerful force in Washington, D.C. politics.
It’s not exactly new information, but the debate over Syria seems to have exposed — once again — the degree to which defense contractors and others who stand to profit from the United States launching missiles at a foreign country.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday voted 10-7 in favor of authorizing military action in Syria. The vote was the first step to a full Senate vote to authorize President Barack Obama’s plan to bomb the war-torn nation.
According to an analysis by MapLight, which tracks lobbying and campaign contributions in Congress, senators who voted in favor of the resolution received, on average, 83 percent more money from defense contractors and other defense interests than senators who voted against the resolution.
The MapLight analysis looked at campaign contributions between 2007 and 2012.
In raw dollars, the 10 senators voting in favor of the military authorization received a total of $728,000, for an average of $72,800.
It’s hardly surprising that uber-hawk Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., led the way with more than $176,000 in contributions from defense interests. (McCain, during the same hearing, was caught playing video poker on his smart phone).
On the other side, the seven senators who opposed military action in Syria received a total of $278,000 from defense interests, for an average of $39,000 per senator.
It’s worth noting that every senator on the committee received at least $14,000 from the defense industry between 2007 and 2012, according to MapLight. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, was the low man on that totem pole.
Of course, it’s easy to spend lots of money on politicians when your business is making missiles that sell for $1.45 million apiece.
Here’s the whole rundown:
Eric Boehm can be reached at Eric@PAIndependent.com and follow @EricBoehm87 on Twitter.
Today, the Senate has two hearings scheduled on the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST). The Senate will have had three hearings on the LOST after today—yet, not for the purposes of educating Senators on the flaws versus the benefits of the treaty. These hearings are a pretext for a lame duck strategy to railroad the treaty through the Senate after the November election.
The first hearing today is titled “Perspectives from the U.S. Military.” Witnesses include Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and representatives from other government stakeholders in navigation on the high seas. The question that these witnesses can’t sufficiently answer is, “What can’t you do today, because of the LOST, that you could do if the treaty were to be ratified?” The answer is nothing.
Heritage’s Kim Holmes, former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, wrote for The Washington Times last year that the navigational provisions in the treaty are not necessary.
The treaty’s navigational provisions offer nothing new. Yes, the U.S. Navy says (LOST) might improve the “predictability” of these rights, but does the Navy’s access to international waters really depend upon a treaty to which we are not even a member? The last time I checked, the U.S. Navy could go anywhere it wanted in international waters. Though redundant, the navigational provisions of (LOST) are actually pretty good. That’s why President Ronald Reagan supported them. But Reagan and others objected to the unaccountable international bureaucracy created by the treaty.
The second hearing today will include former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Heritage Foundation expert Steve Groves, former Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, and former Legal Advisor at State John B. Bellinger, III. This hearing will be an excellent opportunity for the opponents of LOST to make the case that this treaty is flawed.
The bottom line is that Senator John Kerry (D–MA) has been stacking hearings in favor of proponents of LOST. The first hearing this year included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
As I wrote in an op-ed at Townhall, opponents of the treaty made a strong case against ratification.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) professed to be starting from a neutral position vis a vis ratification. Directing a query to Ms. Clinton, he said, “A lot of people believe that the administration…wants to use this treaty as a way to get America into a regime relating to carbon, since it has been unsuccessful doing so domestically. And I wonder if you might respond to that.” Ms. Clinton’s response? She said she has a legal analysis that knocks down that argument. But not all Americans are willing to rely on a politically driven legal memo from the Obama Administration as a guarantee that this treaty will not empower the International Sea Bed Authority to force regulations on American business. Those seeking certainty on this vital issue would rather take a pass on the treaty than take a chance on Ms. Clinton’s promises.
Senators Mike Lee (R–UT) and Jim Risch (R–ID) expressed dissatisfaction with the Administration’s alleging that opponents of the treaty were engaging in “misinformation” and “mythology.” Risch argued that “you addressed the people who oppose ratification of the treaty, and…I hope you weren’t scoffing at us.” Proponents have engaged in name calling to avoid the central issues to be considered before ratification.
These hearings are intended to show that Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Kerry allowed conservatives to have their say before the lame duck strategy is implemented. The deck has been stacked, with two hearings in favor and one with a 50–50 split between proponents and opponents. Kerry used a similar strategy the last time the Senate considered the LOST.
Make no mistake; these hearings are part of the strategy of the treaty’s proponents to wait until after the election to push through LOST—in November or December of this year when the American people have no recourse against this offense against American sovereignty.
- Law of the Sea Treaty: A Tool to Combat Iran, China, and Russia? or Redistribution of wealth (mb50.wordpress.com)
- The Republicans’ secret weapon on LOST: information (humanevents.com)
- Colin Hanna: Congress needs to tell Law of the Sea Treaty to get lost (junkscience.com)
- Obama Seeks Ratification Of Power-Grabbing Law Of The Sea Treaty (mb50.wordpress.com)