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The C-17 Globemaster III
October 1, 2009 12:44 PM   Subscribe

January: Newly sworn-in President Obama says, "We need greater investment in... essential systems like the C-17 cargo... aircraft, which provide the backbone of our ability to extend global power." April: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says, "Our analysis concludes that we have enough C-17s, with the 205 already in the force and currently in production." May: The Office of Management and Budget proposes the termination of the C-17 program with a savings of $17 billion. July: The 2010 Defense Appropriations Bill includes funding for the program. September 29: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) proposes an amendment to strip that funding - "You can't walk through these hallways without bumping into a lobbyist from Boeing." September 30: By a vote of 64 to 34, the Senate defeats the amendment.
posted by Joe Beese (113 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for the news update, Joe Beese!
posted by dersins at 12:48 PM on October 1, 2009


Schoolhouse Rock should really update their "How a Bill Becomes a Law" song. It doesn't have nearly enough lobbyists in it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:48 PM on October 1, 2009 [19 favorites]


They need to start cutting about half of what the Pentagon gets and then we can fix almost all of Americas problems.
posted by TheCoyote23 at 12:51 PM on October 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


I think we need to bring back the E-10 or finally get a tanker replacement. It's hard to find parts for 40-year old airplanes.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:53 PM on October 1, 2009


Obama ought to push through a new megabuck high tech stealth bomber aircraft. Not because there is a need for one, just so we can have a plane with the nickname "Obomber".
posted by Burhanistan at 12:55 PM on October 1, 2009 [13 favorites]


They need to start cutting about half of what the Pentagon gets and then we can fix almost all of Americas problems.

But what will we do when the entire rest of the planet gangs up on us?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:56 PM on October 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


They need to start cutting about half of what the Pentagon gets and then we can fix almost all of Americas problems.

Well, that's a little facile. It's not like that money's just being tossed into a furnace now. Every dollar going to Boeing for the C-17 doesn't just sit in a safe somewhere. It's going to pay for engineering, design, and construction (good union jobs, each and every one of them). If we cut off half of our defense spending, we'd be cutting a lot of people out of their jobs. That's the genius of the military-industrial complex; it's thoroughly integrated into the American economy.

In theory, we could undertake a gradual transition to a peacetime economy, but it certainly wouldn't be as straightforward as simply cutting off defense spending.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:56 PM on October 1, 2009 [9 favorites]


> They need to start cutting about half of what the Pentagon gets and then we can fix almost all of Americas problems.

You couldn't be more wrong, TheCoyote23. If you didn't have that extremely bloated defense budget, the King of England could just come in there and start pushing you around. Do you want that? Well, do ya???
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:58 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, is the idea here that we won't need to have any more of these things ever because by the time they wear out we'll have supersonic dirigibles or something better?

hot damn, I want me a supersonic dirigible.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:01 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Someone tell me how I'm supposed to feel about this, please.
posted by cj_ at 1:02 PM on October 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


mr_roboto: "It's going to pay for engineering, design, and construction (good union jobs, each and every one of them). If we cut off half of our defense spending, we'd be cutting a lot of people out of their jobs. That's the genius of the military-industrial complex; it's thoroughly integrated into the American economy."

Yes, but it's less of an investment than actual civillian infrastructure. Highways, schools, hospitals, and even parks give back for decades after they're built in the form of increased transport efficiency, a more highly-educated workforce, better trauma survival rates (due to decreased distance to an ER), and lower obesity incidence; bombs only explode once.
posted by The White Hat at 1:03 PM on October 1, 2009 [36 favorites]


But that would be socialism!
posted by Artw at 1:06 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, but it's less of an investment than actual civillian infrastructure. Highways, schools, hospitals, and even parks give back for decades after they're built in the form of increased transport efficiency, a more highly-educated workforce, better trauma survival rates (due to decreased distance to an ER), and lower obesity incidence; bombs only explode once.

Yeah, granted. But Boeing builds airplanes, not parks, and it has tens of thousands of employees. The transition to a civilian economy is not straightforward.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:09 PM on October 1, 2009


Uhhhh..... Obama said buy - Gates said no - some office said no - some bill said yes - McCain said no - the Senate said yes.

What is this telling us?

Can someone outline the point of this FPP for those of us who don't have access to 40' grocery store aisles dedicated to pre-shredded cheese?
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:10 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Someone tell me how I'm supposed to feel about this, please.

I can think of a number of reactions for you to have, but I'd probably leave off surprise. This sounds to me like the kind of behavior you can expect to see from Congress on a daily basis. My ability to assume outrage at Congress's ubiquitous, unwavering pandering to special interests has become much diminished over time.
posted by Brak at 1:13 PM on October 1, 2009


President who?!
posted by shakespeherian at 1:16 PM on October 1, 2009


> But what will we do when the entire rest of the planet gangs up on us?

I'd love to play an Axis and Allies-style war game with this (extremely unrealistic) premise, with nukes taken out of the game to keep it from ending in a few turns.
posted by you just lost the game at 1:16 PM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


CynicalKnight: Can someone outline the point of this FPP for those of us who don't have access to 40' grocery store aisles dedicated to pre-shredded cheese?

Look, I have no prior knowledge of the background at all, but it seems pretty simple:

Leading Democrats are against C-17 funding. Leading Republicans are against C-17 funding. Somehow C-17 funding gets passed. How?
posted by koeselitz at 1:17 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


you just lost the game: I'd love to play an Axis and Allies-style war game with this (extremely unrealistic) premise, with nukes taken out of the game to keep it from ending in a few turns.

That's basically Fortress America, which I've never played but I hear is kinda meh and vaguely racist.
posted by Kattullus at 1:20 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Interstingly, this is one of the more recent conservative attacks on stimulus spending: the multiple on (US) defense spending is higher than that for general (ie stimulus) spending (WSJ). The kicker that gets all of the libertarians giggling is that government spending multiples are always less than 1 (McArdle), i.e., worse for the GDP return than a tax cut.
posted by bonehead at 1:23 PM on October 1, 2009


Globemaster. Wow.
posted by box at 1:24 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, granted. But Boeing builds airplanes, not parks, and it has tens of thousands of employees. The transition to a civilian economy is not straightforward.

Ah, but see...Boeing could market the C-17 to the civilian sector. Think of it as a getaway where you can take your SUV or RV! Drive onboard. Let the C-17 fly you to exotic locales, drive off and experience a foreign country from the comfort of your big home on wheels, then drive back on board and fly home! Tickets include fees for carbon swaps.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:25 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


A lot of snide comments here about how our nation operates. Back off and let the lobby groups do what is best for us.
posted by Postroad at 1:25 PM on October 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


White hat's comment sums up the counter, of course. Judging just by multiples doesn't count the end results, which may give better returns than the investment.
posted by bonehead at 1:26 PM on October 1, 2009


Hmm. Given the vast logistical operation that is the US Military it seems like a workaday plane like the C-17 would be fairly non-controversial, compared with say the Osprey or the (now no longer in production) F-22. I bet they buy a lot of things that are way sillier and less useful – or is it just that they have lots and lots of c-17s sitting around that they don’t actually use?
posted by Artw at 1:26 PM on October 1, 2009


Yeah, granted. But Boeing builds airplanes, not parks, and it has tens of thousands of employees. The transition to a civilian economy is not straightforward.

I'm gonna get blasted for estimating this percentage, but I'm just gonna go and guess one anyway:

Boeing could transition to making light-rail train systems, and 95% of employees wouldn't see a change in their job. The only ones who'd really hurt are the designers who might have the now-unwanted aeronautics expertise that get replaced by train designers. The electronics folks, the computer folks, the assembly line workers and metal fabricators, the accountants, CEOs, etc. would all have basically the same job. Instead of "built this wing," it's "build this door," but it'd work out.

Yes, I know it's not that simple, but with a little bit of that evil government intervention, it could be done. I really wish people in America didn't kick and scream and resist government involvement so much. It's great when businesses succeed, but when they fail, you end up with skilled workers just letting their skills go to waste because there isn't any help to start a new business, say, solar panel and wind farm fabrication done by laid off Detroit ex-auto-workers.
posted by explosion at 1:33 PM on October 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


I read somewhere once where maybe the Pentagon could hold bake sales to buy these planes. Is that a thing we can do?
posted by hifiparasol at 1:33 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


explosion - Know many Boeing engineers then?
posted by Artw at 1:34 PM on October 1, 2009


> Fortress America is part of Milton Bradley's Gamemaster series. Fortress America depicts an alternate near-future in which all of the world attacks and invades the continental United States. From the west arrives hordes of Asian foes; from the south arrives a union of South American countries through Mexico, and from the east lands come legions of Soviets who have taken over all of Europe. America besieged has to rely on the remaining ground and air forces left in the country along with partisan uprisings to defend mom's apple pie.

Yup, that sounds pretty racist, all right. Thanks, Kattullus. Now I'm thinking I'd like to watch a movie that attempts to depict a series of events that leads to the whole world deciding, collectively and simultaneously, that they are so sick of America's bullshit that the series of events outlined in the game's description comes to pass (it would be more fun if Europe hadn't been taken over by Russia and joins in on the "everyone else" side).
posted by you just lost the game at 1:38 PM on October 1, 2009


If you read only one book on how US politics REALLY works, make it this one.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:38 PM on October 1, 2009


I like cookies.
posted by Brak at 1:41 PM on October 1, 2009


America besieged has to rely on the remaining ground and air forces left in the country along with partisan uprisings to defend mom's apple pie.

WOLVERINES!

/lynches census worker.
posted by Artw at 1:42 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Artw: "explosion - Know many Boeing engineers then?"

If we can go one way, who's to say that we can't go the other?
posted by The White Hat at 1:43 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now I'm thinking I'd like to watch a movie that attempts to depict a series of events that leads to the whole world deciding, collectively and simultaneously, that they are so sick of America's bullshit that the series of events outlined in the game's description comes to pass.

I think that movie might be coming out soon.
posted by hifiparasol at 1:44 PM on October 1, 2009


DAMMIT ARTW
posted by hifiparasol at 1:44 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've never understood why right-wingers are completely fine with throwing money at military for the expressed purpose that it provides jobs... but providing jobs that don't have the purpose of killing people, that build our infrastructure, schools, bridges, highways, parks, and for that matter medical research, etc. is "socialism".

What am I missing?? I really want to understand this -- and not in a facile "those people are idiots" sort of way.
posted by LordSludge at 1:44 PM on October 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


Meth made me do it.
posted by Artw at 1:45 PM on October 1, 2009


CynicalKnight: "Can someone outline the point of this FPP..."

Well, for me, the point is that Boeing has more of a say in how our military budget is spent than the President* and the Defense Secretary combined.

*The OMB's predominant mission is to assist the President in overseeing the preparation of the federal budget...

I agree with Brak that this is not a breaking development. But weren't the pictures of the plane neat?
posted by Joe Beese at 1:47 PM on October 1, 2009


What am I missing?? I really want to understand this -- and not in a facile "those people are idiots" sort of way.

Reptilian hind brain reactionary/attack motivations versus mammalian mid-brain nurture motivations. The forebrain is typically empty real estate for most people in government.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:49 PM on October 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


explosion - Know many Boeing engineers then?

No, I don't, and I admit that even at my facile estimation of 95%, that's still 500 unemployed out of every ten thousand.

I have to think that engineering isn't so specialized that a guy who designs gyroscopic-super-sekrit tech-ma-hoozies for fighter jets won't be able to tackle problems related to making better, more efficient, safer or more comfortable trains.

I mean, worst case scenario is the guy who designs Vulcan cannons gets a job with Mountain Dew to fire EXTREME numbers of soda cans at the Warped Tour fans, right?

Joking aside, better to have government programs to let a company shift slowly and keep their brain-drain to a minimum than to one day realize we've been spending too much money on weapons and finally cut funding by half in one go. Or worse, to keep spending on things that don't really improve society or the living standard, solely to keep people employed.
posted by explosion at 1:51 PM on October 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Leading Democrats are against C-17 funding. Leading Republicans are against C-17 funding. Somehow C-17 funding gets passed.

Ok, that makes a little more sense. I was confused by it being added to a bill, which I thought one party had to be pushing. My snark was aimed at the required level of understanding of the guts of the American government. Not so simple.
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:55 PM on October 1, 2009


Hey Beese! Why don't you waggle your fist at Murtha, since he wrote the friggin' bill?
posted by boo_radley at 1:56 PM on October 1, 2009


explosion hit one out of the park.

Aircraft and sophisticated transit products are quite similar to build, give or take a windtunnel or two. In Canada, Bombardier builds both airplanes and rail vehicles.
posted by Artful Codger at 1:57 PM on October 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yet, when Obama cuts the F-22 program at the advice of Gates, he's crucified as being soft on defense.

The point of this story is that conservatives don't like Obama. No matter what he does, they'll find some way to bitch about it.
posted by hwyengr at 1:57 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, granted. But Boeing builds airplanes, not parks, and it has tens of thousands of employees. The transition to a civilian economy is not straightforward.

Yeah, it's always too hard to switch course midstream. We're better off cracking on the rocks dead ahead, instead!
posted by notyou at 1:57 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's basically Fortress America, which I've never played but I hear is kinda meh and vaguely racist.

We used to play it when we got bored of Axis and Allies (after figuring out the allies always win if Russia attacks the crap out of Germany right away). I don't recall any racism but maybe it went over my teenage head.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:58 PM on October 1, 2009


This is exactly what a train built by current Boeing engineers would look like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8pTLPhlyyA#t=10s
posted by dirty lies at 1:58 PM on October 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


I mean, the setup kind of smacks of cold war paranoia, but the only semi-racism I can find is the phrase "hordes of Asians," which comes from someone's write-up, not the gamemakers.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:01 PM on October 1, 2009


drjimmy11: I mean, the setup kind of smacks of cold war paranoia, but the only semi-racism I can find is the phrase "hordes of Asians," which comes from someone's write-up, not the gamemakers.

As I said, I've never played Fortress America but "kinda meh and vaguely racist" is how it was described to me.
posted by Kattullus at 2:05 PM on October 1, 2009


The U.S. flips out about ACORN helping a prostitute with her taxes, but keeps on shoveling money to defense contractors who regularly hire them, steal from the government in Iraq, shoot up entire squares full of people (blackwater) and all other types of criminality. In fact, the bill that was supposed to strip funding for ACORN actually could have ended up defunding most of the military industrial complex, because it simply revoked funding for any group that had been indicted, rather then convicted of whatever crime. ( It passed the house but as far as I know there hasn't been any action in the senate).

Obviously cutting defense spending all at once would be a huge shock to the economy, those dollars would have to get spent on other projects. But the fact we spend so much on defense spending is one of the reasons why the "free market" works so well in the U.S, unlike more socialist countries. We spend on defense what other countries spend on social services.
posted by delmoi at 2:05 PM on October 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


boo_radley: "Hey Beese! Why don't you waggle your fist at Murtha, since he wrote the friggin' bill?"

I expect no better from Murtha.

However foolishly, I expect better from Barbara Boxer.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:11 PM on October 1, 2009


bombs only explode once.

You raise an interesting point. I solve this particular little problem, and I'll be swimming in some of that DOD cash.

I figure a couple of billion should be enough to keep me booze, cheese, and video-games for the foreseeable future.
posted by quin at 2:12 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's going to pay for engineering, design, and construction (good union jobs, each and every one of them).

But most of the engineering and design are already done; it's the construction jobs we're hanging onto, basically. And to the extent that these planes are actually superfluous, then it's the worst kind of spending - the 'government pays people to dig ditches and fill them in again' criticism often leveled at Keynesian economics. You mention it'd be hard for Boeing (or the government) to transition to spending similar amounts of money in the civilian economy, but those difficulties are exactly the sort of thing we pay engineers and designers to solve for us.

What really pisses me off here is that the amount which is going to be wasted on this (unless the President exercises his veto, and you can guess how the GOP would portray that) is almost the same as the entire NASA budget. WTF.

JoeBeese, I'm not sure if you're blaming Obama for this? I can interpret his remarks two ways, the favorable one being that he considers the C-17 an example of procurement that effectively meets long-term needs, a standard he'd like future appropriations to meet (although I understand the C-17 took a lot more time and money than originally planned).
posted by anigbrowl at 2:18 PM on October 1, 2009


Ah, I see the problem here.

Some of you seem to think that McCain is a "leading member" of the Republican party :)
posted by muddgirl at 2:28 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


But that would be socialism!

It already is socialism, but it's socialism wrapped in a flag.
posted by lekvar at 2:30 PM on October 1, 2009


anigbrowl: "JoeBeese, I'm not sure if you're blaming Obama for this?"

My reputation precedes me?

No, while I found it fishy smelling that he would plug the C-17 by name - on Inauguration Day of all occasions! - he did the right thing by nixing the plane at Gates's advice. I mean: if you're going to rule an empire, at least rule it efficiently. And I was glad when he succeeded in killing the F-22.

He threatened to veto the appropriations bill over that. He has conspicuously not threatened to do so over this. But even assuming he rolls over, that will be pretty far down on my list of beefs.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:31 PM on October 1, 2009


It's not like that money's just being tossed into a furnace now.

It might be. Don Rumsfield said they can't account for 2 trillion. Perhaps it was tossed in a furnace.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:36 PM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Aircraft and sophisticated transit products are quite similar to build, give or take a windtunnel or two. In Canada, Bombardier builds both airplanes and rail vehicles.

Boeing already tried their hand at Light Rail Vehicles. The results were less than impressive.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:36 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


The point of this story is that conservatives the party out of power doesn't like Obama the current president. No matter what he does, they'll find some way to bitch about it.

FTFY.
posted by Aizkolari at 2:37 PM on October 1, 2009


buy a lot of things that are way sillier and less useful

Signs and bumperstickers that say "Change"?
posted by rough ashlar at 2:38 PM on October 1, 2009


Parliament of Whores: PJ O'Rourke is a no-talent fascist fuck, nor is he funny. They tried to use him on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, but his idea of a joke was to say "Hillary Clinton!" and collapse into oleaginous laughter.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:47 PM on October 1, 2009


... our ability to extend global power.

Hmmmm. That's interesting.
posted by asusu at 2:55 PM on October 1, 2009


That's kind of an incomplete picture of O'Rourke, Jimmy. You're leaving out a big part of his personality that limits your ability to describe him.


He's also racist.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:58 PM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I could be wrong about this, but I don't think that $17 billion would be used to build parks or hospitals or light rail systems. The money's already been appropriated. I think that the bill basically moves money from the operations maintenance bucket to the equipment bucket.

Essentially, instead of building C-17, we could be replacing worn out A-10 equipment and 60-year-old test stands.

(Disclaimer: I work for a defense contractor that does a lot of business in A-10 maintenance and replacing worn out test stands.)
posted by muddgirl at 2:58 PM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


hifiparasol's link to the Red Dawn remake is pretty paranoid and inflammatory for 2009. The Chinese are coming, the Chinese are coming!
posted by bystander at 2:59 PM on October 1, 2009


Orange Dawn?
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:02 PM on October 1, 2009


The kicker that gets all of the libertarians giggling is that government spending multiples are always less than 1 (McArdle), i.e., worse for the GDP return than a tax cut.

I remember similar discussions from an econ class, and remember thinking that while the math seemed right, the models are a bit iffy*. And the concept of the multiplier tends to be separated from the value of what's produced. Perhaps by definition, which is fine, as long as that's understood when it comes time to make practical policy.

I'll readily accept the idea that boondoggles exist and, but I'd wager that the ROI from ARPANet is greater than 1.

*(Then again, this was my opinion of the prevailing state of the discipline.)
posted by weston at 3:06 PM on October 1, 2009


Jimmy Havok: They tried to use him on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, but his idea of a joke was to say "Hillary Clinton!" and collapse into oleaginous laughter.

Meanwhile, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me is an utterly unfunny knock-off of I'm Sorry, I Haven't A Clue.
posted by koeselitz at 3:07 PM on October 1, 2009


It's going to pay for engineering, design, and construction (good union jobs, each and every one of them). If we cut off half of our defense spending, we'd be cutting a lot of people out of their jobs. That's the genius of the military-industrial complex; it's thoroughly integrated into the American economy.

I would really like to see some good numbers on what percentage of our GDP and employment is through government make-work projects in the "defense" industry.
posted by heathkit at 3:09 PM on October 1, 2009


collapse into oleaginous laughter.

If they cut out all the oleaginous laughter in "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" the show would only run about 8 minutes long.

posted by Burhanistan at 3:11 PM on October 1, 2009


"Yet, when Obama cuts the F-22 program at the advice of Gates, he's crucified as being soft on defense."

"Yet" doesn't make sense here... he also wanted to cut this program, he just said he didn't before he changed his mind... so there's no inconsistency.
posted by Jahaza at 3:14 PM on October 1, 2009


Hence this article from The Hill: Obama Shifts on Cargo Plane.
posted by Jahaza at 3:16 PM on October 1, 2009


Err.. Obama Shifts on Cargo Plane
posted by Jahaza at 3:17 PM on October 1, 2009


I'd say it's less likely to be lobbyists than Senator Horsefeathers earmarking the fuck out of a bill that maintains or creates jobs in their home district.
posted by electroboy at 3:19 PM on October 1, 2009


notyou: mr_roboto: Yeah, granted. But Boeing builds airplanes, not parks, and it has tens of thousands of employees. The transition to a civilian economy is not straightforward.

Yeah, it's always too hard to switch course midstream. We're better off cracking on the rocks dead ahead, instead!


Jesus, are you being purposely obtuse or does reading get in the way of your super awesome snark? The post you responsed to reads as a good faith attempt to point out a bit of complexity, essentially saying "I agree but it's not very simple". The post never said it was too hard to switch course or that we shouldn't, just that "Petagon Bad!" is not the full analysis.
posted by spaltavian at 3:37 PM on October 1, 2009


"Yes, but it's less of an investment than actual civillian infrastructure...bombs only explode once."

The former, yeah. The latter, the material isn't the investment, it's the knowledge. Yeah, ok, knowledge to blowed stuff up. But the astronauts rode into space on reconverted war missiles.

The problem there is not the war industry thing, but the 'but for' problem. Were it not for the space program, were it not for war programs, you wouldn't have, say, microwave ovens, etc.

Really it's only a small point. You could nationalize the defense industry and mandate some R&D or something. On the other hand, lot of folks don't like the space program either.
Still, I'd have to agree it'd be much better to - albeit slowly, convert to a peace footing. We should have started sharing security responsibilities a long time ago. Especially with all the nukes floating around. Terrorism, rogue nations, nomad organizations, etc., wouldn't be 1/2 the spectre they are now.

This program - meh. Philosophically though, he's on target. More 'trucks,' less 'huge hyperspecialized overdesigned one niche weapon.'
posted by Smedleyman at 3:49 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd love to play an Axis and Allies-style war game with this (extremely unrealistic) premise, with nukes taken out of the game to keep it from ending in a few turns.

That's also basically the plot of Exxoneration, by Richard H. Rohmer.
posted by ceribus peribus at 4:02 PM on October 1, 2009


Here in DC, there are ads for the C-17 in the Metro.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:28 PM on October 1, 2009


This feels like another one of those "WAKE UP SHEEPLE!" type posts. Frankly, I just don't have any outrage left in me.
posted by tkchrist at 5:35 PM on October 1, 2009


mr_roboto: "It's going to pay for engineering, design, and construction (good union jobs, each and every one of them). If we cut off half of our defense spending, we'd be cutting a lot of people out of their jobs. That's the genius of the military-industrial complex; it's thoroughly integrated into the American economy."


If we stop randomly breaking all these windows, think of all the high-paying glass production jobs we'd lose! Surely it would result in the collapse of our economy.
posted by mullingitover at 5:45 PM on October 1, 2009


hifiparasol's link to the Red Dawn remake is pretty paranoid and inflammatory for 2009. The Chinese are coming, the Chinese are coming!

My housemate is a production assistant on the set of 'Tomorrow, when the war came' - the Australian Red Dawn, required reading for a lot Australian school children: A group of teenagers in an unnamed country (with lots of Australian sounding place names) are out camping or whatever while an unnamed communist country invades. Plucky teenagers wage guerrila war against faceless Red menace. The film is also set to come out in 2010 - it is one of the biggest budget all-Australian funded films of all time. Another example of the prevelance of group-think in film production companies.

A couple of changes have been made to adapt the book(s) to film: The country being invaded is definitely Australia and the invading country is DEFINITELY China, complete with the right uniforms, flags etc.

I was seriously bewildered when I heard this, especially as the Chinese government is notoriously touchy about how China is portrayed in film and other media overseas.

My housemate is Australian-Chinese (in that order, she says)
posted by JustAsItSounds at 5:53 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


^ apologies for commenting OT, maybe I should make this a FPP
posted by JustAsItSounds at 5:54 PM on October 1, 2009


It might be. Don Rumsfield said they can't account for 2 trillion. Perhaps it was tossed in a furnace.

Dick Cheney's probably using it as his ottoman.
posted by armage at 5:58 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


What I'm getting out of this is: the C-17 is one sweet fuckin' airplane. </planenerd>
posted by wrok at 6:09 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not at all, JustAsItSounds, I am always interested in a post that improves a thread. :7)

Is the book/movie explicitly based on "Red Dawn" or is that just surmise? And how old is the book?
posted by wenestvedt at 6:49 PM on October 1, 2009


Philosophically though, he's on target. More 'trucks,' less 'huge hyperspecialized overdesigned one niche weapon.'

That's what I got from it. Cargo planes? Fine, at least those are multifunctional for many reasons unrelated to killing brown folks to make room for Chevron.
posted by rokusan at 7:18 PM on October 1, 2009


Perhaps I'm missing the point here, but does the United States need the damned plane or doesn't it?

I'm not talking about the jobs or the lobbyists or the money or the military-industrial complex. Just... do you need more C-17s, or not?
posted by bicyclefish at 8:05 PM on October 1, 2009


Part of me just wonders what you could do with one if you AC-130ed it up.
posted by Artw at 8:09 PM on October 1, 2009


Part of me just wonders what you could do with one if you AC-130ed it up.

The stall speed on the C 17 is too high. It also doesn't have the fuel economy of the turboprop so it couldn't loiter as long.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:10 PM on October 1, 2009


What would be more likely if they were going to use these things for combat would just be a bomber refit.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:12 PM on October 1, 2009


Boo. Stupid physics.
posted by Artw at 8:12 PM on October 1, 2009


Maybe it could be a mothership for supersonic parasite craft or something.
posted by Artw at 8:14 PM on October 1, 2009


Or they could retrofit the cargo bay to be a giant flying skate park.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:17 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now that would be awesome.
posted by Artw at 8:23 PM on October 1, 2009


If you didn't have that extremely bloated defense budget, the King of England could just come in there and start pushing you around. Do you want that? Well, do ya???

More to the point, the reason to have all the guns was for a well-regulated miltia, so why is Big Government getting involved where it isn't needed? The free market can work this out, and better competition will lower prices so that ordinary Americans can afford the protections required in today's changing security situations.

There is no need for a public option.
posted by fightorflight at 8:48 PM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


It also doesn't have the fuel economy of the turboprop so it couldn't loiter as long.

As if an AC-130'd up C-17 would need to "loiter."
posted by clearly at 8:49 PM on October 1, 2009


As if an AC-130'd up C-17 would need to "loiter."

Well, unless it just turned a whole area into liquid, those gunships are required to loiter while ground ops and recon are being carried out. Jets just go too fast.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:53 PM on October 1, 2009


AC-17, hell. AC-5.

Or build an AC-something out of the An-225. That fucker could carry one whopping shitload of Bad Day.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:29 PM on October 1, 2009


"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hope of its children." -- Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Supreme Allied Commander in World War II
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 11:50 PM on October 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


> What am I missing?? I really want to understand this -- and not in a facile "those people are idiots" sort of way.

They feel they benefit from a strong military, while money spent on social programs go to black people.
posted by cj_ at 12:58 AM on October 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


There is going to be an Australian movie about Chinese invaders??! I thought it surprising that an American production would get green lighted on that premise, but that Australia, with a much closer integration with China, and increasing local Chinese population, would think this a good idea is mind blowing.
Do we need a Pauline Hanson recruitment film?
posted by bystander at 1:23 AM on October 2, 2009


I'm reminded of Bill Hicks advocating that we strip our defense funding and spend it clothing and feeding the poor so that we can explore space together.

No point, really, but things like this really drive the point home that most of this "defense" funding really could be better spent on oh, just about anything else.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:14 AM on October 2, 2009


In a way, it's kind of funny, isn't it? There's no Soviet Union anymore to stand in as the bad guys, so everybody's casting around for somebody to fill the role. I guess alien invaders are passe, so everybody (and not just in the movie industry!) has picked the Communist Chinese.

This, despite the fact that the PRC couldn't even invade Taiwan, a tiny island sitting right off their coast, much less Australia (a much larger place a lot further away) or the United States of America (which is across a freaking ocean).
posted by Comrade_robot at 6:24 AM on October 2, 2009


You do have to *pretend* that they've invaded Taiwan though, otherwise they get upset.

China has to be the most upsettable nation in history. They need a geopolitical wahmbulance on constant standby.
posted by Artw at 6:30 AM on October 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


You're kind of missing the point -- all this isn't really China's fault. Everybody's looking around for the next villainous superpower; I mean, OK, look, we're vaguely aware that Iran doesn't like the USA, but we're also vaguely aware that the idea of a million Iranian paratroopers dropping on Montana is kind of silly. It's the same deal with North Korea. Commando raids into South Korea? Sure. Paratroopers in the Midwest? Ridiculous.

China? Nobody knows jack about China. All anybody knows is that there's a vaguely Soviet shaped hole that somebody has to step into (and again, not just for movies -- but for defense equipment, too! It's hard to justify the latest super military fighter without a credible threat) and that China's pretty much the closest we have. This is despite the fact that a hot 'shooting' war between China and the United States is pretty much not going to happen. (Both sides have nuclear weapons, for one.)

For anybody who has been reading anything about the modernization of the Chinese military, the idea of a million Chinese paratroopers dropping on the Midwest is almost as silly as the idea of a million North Korean or Iranian paratroopers dropping on the Midwest. (Actually, the idea of a million Soviet paratroopers dropping on the Midwest was pretty ridiculous, too.)

I mean, maybe you don't remember all this "Growing Chinese threat" stuff that was being put out after the fall of the Soviet Union, but I do. It changed overnight after 9-11.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:18 AM on October 2, 2009


I dunno, tell them someone in Montana shouted "Free Tibet" at a concert...
posted by Artw at 7:33 AM on October 2, 2009


I had an assignment for high school speech class where I argued that NASA was a waste of money that could be better spent on social programs instead of the moon. The teacher started arguing with me that a lot of people would lose their jobs if it was eliminated, which I counter argued that getting rid of the Nazi party would have cost a lot of people their jobs. I got a C on the project. I still think it was unprofessional for a teacher to argue her personal opinions with a student during a class project, but I guess I proved Godwin's Law too quickly.
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 8:47 AM on October 2, 2009


Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. earned it and never had the chance to spend it as they saw fit, including (but not limited to) voluntarily feeding the hungry and clothing the cold.

No point, really, but things like this really drive the point home that most of this "defense" funding really could be better spent on oh, just about anything else. by the people who earned it in the first place.

FTFY.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:41 AM on October 2, 2009


"I'm not talking about the jobs or the lobbyists or the money or the military-industrial complex. Just... do you need more C-17s, or not?"

Do you need a hammer?
The problem with this sort of thing is that the material decision now locks funds up into a certain sort of tool set that influences strategic policy decisions down the ... jesus, my head is in the game today, I get more regular sleep and I'll be running the place in a month.
...anyway, so it's not just do we need them, but what will we be handing off to the future warfighters? Which will determine the types of conflict we can engage in.
Clinton did this to some degree. There was the same sort of "it hurts the troops" bitching. Not that he was all around Mr. Wonderful (I mean, we did get into some bullety type situations).
But that's the dichotomy McCain, et.al. look to overlay.

When the reality is this would, ultimately, represent a philosophical shift in terms of power projections.
So, ok, think of the Tarkin Doctrine. Or, better, think of the Bush/Wolf/Rummy doctrine as an operational component of what is ultimately the Tarkin Doctrine in U.S. defense industries which forces politicians perspective on foreign policy because certain decisions are more practical given the hand they're dealt by what was purchased before.
- Rule by threat of force through big scary technological marvels rather than non-material human operational systems (government agencies with staffs, etc.)

Implicit in more C-17s is 'more pilots' and 'more aircrews' which means more personnel which means more emphasis on nondirect force applications and power projections.
Me flying over your house saying "DO THIS FUCKER" is an entirely different thing than me showing up at your house and saying "I'd like you to do this. Let's talk."
The latter case fosters better conflict resolution. For many reasons, not the least of which though is no matter how much firepower I've got backing me up, I'm still there on the scene and I'm not completely untouchable the way I am if I'm on some aircraft carrier.

And the method of power projection emphasizing mobility of personnel, all that, broadens responsibility for security matters, lessens unilateral action (because it's not a small group talking to a small group of elite specialists like fighter/bomber pilots, mobilization requires not only a broader base but a wider spectrum of cooperation), and would result in a better overall life for Joe Grunt because there's more of them and there'd be more dependence on them.
And so we'd be more risk averse, generally, so we'd get into less warfighting, or at least less Wagnerian style b.s. like we did in Iraq. Not that this would be impossible.
The analogy of Rumsfeld taking a Ferrari to go 4-wheeling was apt.
But we'd rely more on command and control (C2) which is our metier and by far our strongest advantage.
...currently in the world the stuff itself - any given gun, weapon system, blah de blah - might be really swell, but there's no substitute for coordinated effort. And that's not just communications and satellites and such.

Finland, f'rinstance, during the winter war, knocked the hell out of the Soviet Union because of their C2. The way they arraigned their battalions, procedures, etc.
I mean, they didn't even have anti-tank guns and had to use local radio stations for communications. The Soviets had far more beef up front. But nowhere near the command and control (or moral, which really helped the Finns), so their troop deployments were ass - a lot of that had to do with the purges, but c'mon, order of battle is elementary ... well..ok, you'd think - still, give me a 6500 tank advantage with 3 to 1 superiority in manpower, I'd be hard pressed to F it up - unless of course, I've got nada for tactics and my opponent cooperates well and has people making Molotov cocktails, dumping logs and use coordinated guerrilla warfare (motti, up there) to divide my forces.
Raate road is an anthem to light manned units using terrain and support against better equipped mechanized outfits. Hjalmar Siilasvuo's troops, rifle division, tired, ill-equipped, less than 350 field radios in the entire country, against a well equipped, seasoned Soviet mechanized unit. On paper looks like no contest.

Of course, that's the thing, a lot of these people are into the whole brute force thing and what you can see with the eye and feel in the belly.
But that's just not how wars are won.

So, more simply, no, we don't need more C-17s at all. But we need the hell out of what they stand for.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:47 AM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Moral/'Morale'... yeah, I'm a genius. What with the book learnin' an all.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:50 AM on October 2, 2009


Wait Wait Don't Tell Me is an utterly unfunny knock-off of I'm Sorry, I Haven't A Clue

Give it a chance. It's better now that they've quit trying to find a funny conservative.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:47 PM on October 2, 2009


Smedleyman, that is probably the least coherent comment you have ever made - meaning you usually are right on the ball. Can you please be in charge of global security, even so? I don't trust the guys doing it now to either understand the situation or understand the importance of not fighting unless you must.
Can I send you my defense dollars?
posted by bystander at 8:05 AM on October 3, 2009


Aircraft and sophisticated transit products are quite similar to build, give or take a windtunnel or two. In Canada, Bombardier builds both airplanes and rail vehicles.

Bombardier Aerospace and Bombardier Transportation are subsidiaries of the same parent corporation (Bombardier Inc), but they have almost no technical or managerial discourse between them. Thousands, primarily the people doing assembly work and not the specialized design engineers, have been laid off at Bombardier Aerospace lately because of the market downturn, and no one has ever mentioned hiring them up at Bombardier Transportation, which is booming.

Mind you, part of this would be because Aero and Transport don't have manufacturing or design facilities in the same cities, and the current downturn is considered a transient occurrence. Maybe a long term change in the market would result in a transformation, but right now they're operated as separate companies to ensure a deliberately diversified manufacturing base.
posted by cardboard at 4:43 AM on October 4, 2009


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