Defense Secretary William Cohen has been in Europe doing his thing,
hustling U.S. arms.

The Sec Def is America’s top salesman for all that deadly stuff
produced by his buddies in the U.S. arms business and then promoted and
authorized by his pals in Congress in their never-ending quest for more
pork and jobs for the folks back home.

These days he’s got an uphill job. Made-in-the-USA fighters, bombers,
missiles and tanks sold briskly in Western Europe until the Iron Curtain
collapsed. But with no major military threats on the horizon, some
European nations have reduced their defense spending by as much as half.
Others, weary of the U.S. monopoly in arms, have made it a point to take
their shopping elsewhere.

For the U.S. military-industrial-congressional complex, this is very
bad news. The American defense industry gang, the world’s biggest arms
supplier, misses the golden days of the Cold War, not unlike the mob
missed Prohibition when it was repealed back in the 1930s.

So Cohen’s been pushing the line that while the Soviets are no longer
an issue, Europe must be prepared for new threats from rogue states like
North Korea and Iran. With a straight face, Cohen’s putting out the word
that Pyongyang, Tehran and a dozen other meanies are assembling
intercontinental ballistic missile systems to blow everyone away.
Long-range missiles capable of putting a nuke weapon right splat on top
of that wonderful little cafe across from the Eiffel Tower and other fun
spots in Western Europe.

His pitch is right out of the Cold War: Create a threat, fan the fear
that the bad guys are coming and then sell weapons to save the “Free
World.” Hey, it’s worked for 50 years. Why not 50 more?

Take the recent case of the United States and Red China. First the
White House, Hughes and Loral give the Reds the high-tech capability to
whack an ICBM down in any front yard in the USA. Then Cohen tells us
we’re once again nuclear targets and only the creation of a
multibillion-dollar protective umbrella will save us from those nasty
incoming Chinese missiles. There’s no mention that what triggered this
new anti-missile arms race was our providing Red China with the secrets
of how missiles hit targets, or that since Reagan kicked off Star Wars
more than $100 billion has been blown on this unworkable scheme.

But at the end of a bloody century where more money’s been spent on
arms than in the complete history of humankind, most European leaders
aren’t falling for Cohen’s line.

Nor are they gung-ho about remaining dependent on the U.S. security
apparatus, especially since our bungles in Serbia. American leadership
both in Washington and among the top brass at NATO — starting with Gen.
Wesley Clark, the biggest doofus since William Westmoreland of Vietnam
shame — has made European leaders leery about being led down the tubes
by another American Gen. Humpty Dumpty. Going it alone with an
all-European defense force commanded by their own generals is looking
better and better.

And it should. They’re big boys and girls who can well defend their
own back yard. We’ve been propping them up for 55 years, and it’s time
they did the Bosnias and Kosovos on their own while we attend to our
home fronts, beginning with securing our southern border.

Hopefully, then, NATO won’t be around much longer to waste your tax
dollars. When this obsolete defense treaty disappears, we can bring
100,000 troops back to the USA and save about $50 billion per year.

One of life’s ironies is that our government arms most of the
so-called Free World with horrific weapons. Meanwhile, the same
politicians are scheming to take away our peashooters in order to make
our country a more peaceful land — just as we enter a decade of the
worst terrorism in history.

Perhaps we should all make a New Year’s resolution to disarm the
world instead. We could start by putting an end to the mass exportation
of weapons. And we could also stop sticking our noses in everyone else’s

Of course, this wouldn’t be good for our Sec Defs. How could they
afford their post-Pentagon lifestyle? Since 1961, there hasn’t been one
U.S. secretary of defense who didn’t end up a multimillionaire. Ever
wonder where the money comes from?

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