The Pentagon

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The Pentagon in 2008

The Pentagon is the headquarters building of the United States Department of Defense. As a symbol of the U.S. military, the phrase The Pentagon is also often used as a metonym for the Department of Defense and its leadership. Located in Arlington County, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., the building was designed by American architect George Bergstrom and built by contractor John McShain. Ground was broken on 11 September 1941, and the building was dedicated on 15 January 1943.

The Pentagon is the world's largest office building, with about 6.5 million square feet (150 acres; 60 ha) of floor space, of which 3.7 million sq ft (85 acres; 34 ha) are used as offices. Some 23,000 military and civilian employees, and another 3,000 non-defense support personnel, work in the Pentagon.

Quotes[edit]

  • Let's make no mistake about this: Congress' choice to keep investing in a massive, ineffective and absurdly expensive war machine has nothing to do with "national security" as most people understand it, or "defense" as the dictionary defines it. U.S. society does face critical threats to our security, including the climate crisis, systemic racism, erosion of voting rights, gun violence, grave inequalities and the corporate hijacking of political power. But one problem we fortunately do not have is the threat of attack or invasion by a rampant global aggressor or, in fact, by any other country at all...
    If the public is ever to have any impact on this dysfunctional and deadly money-go-round, we must learn to see through the fog of propaganda that masks self-serving corruption behind red, white and blue bunting, and allows the military brass to cynically exploit the public's natural respect for brave young men and women who are ready to risk their lives to defend our country.
    In the Crimean War, the Russians called British troops "lions led by donkeys." That is an accurate description of today's U.S. military.
  • Maintaining a war machine that outspends the 12 or 13 next largest militaries in the world combined actually makes us less safe, as each new administration inherits the delusion that the United States' overwhelmingly destructive military power can, and therefore should, be used to confront any perceived challenge to U.S. interests anywhere in the world — even when there is clearly no military solution and when many of the underlying problems were caused by past misapplications of U.S. military power in the first place. While the international challenges we face in this century require a genuine commitment to international cooperation and diplomacy, Congress allocates only $58 billion, less than 10 percent of the Pentagon budget, to the diplomatic corps of our government: the State Department. Even worse, both Democratic and Republican administrations keep filling top diplomatic posts with officials indoctrinated and steeped in policies of war and coercion, with scant experience and meager skills in the peaceful diplomacy we so desperately need. This only perpetuates a failed foreign policy based on false choices between economic sanctions that UN officials have compared to medieval sieges, coups that destabilize countries and regions for decades, and wars and bombing campaigns that kill millions of people and leave cities in rubble, like Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.
  • President Joe Biden and the Democratic Congress are facing a crisis as the popular domestic agenda they ran on in the 2020 elections is held hostage by two corporate Democratic senators: fossil-fuel consigliere Joe Manchin and payday-lender favorite Kyrsten Sinema. But the very week before the Democrats’ $350-billion annual domestic package hit this wall of corporate money-bags, all but 38 House Democrats voted to hand over more than double that amount to the Pentagon. Senator Manchin has hypocritically described the domestic spending bill as “fiscal insanity,” but he has voted for a much larger Pentagon budget every year since 2016. Real fiscal insanity is what Congress does year after year, taking most of its discretionary spending off the table and handing it over to the Pentagon before even considering the country’s urgent domestic needs. Maintaining this pattern, Congress just splashed out $12 billion for 85 more F-35 warplanes, six more than Donald Trump bought last year, without debating the relative merits of buying more F-35s vs. investing $12 billion in education, health care, clean energy or fighting poverty.
  • As some in Congress continue to ask how we can afford to take care of our children or ensure future life on this planet, progressives in Congress must not only call for taxing the rich but cutting the Pentagon — and not just in tweets or rhetorical flourishes, but in real policy. While it may be too late to reverse course this year, they must stake out a line in the sand for next year’s military budget that reflects what the public desires and the world so desperately needs: to roll back the destructive, gargantuan war machine and to invest in health care and a livable climate, not bombs and F-35s.
  • This very big, very dirty secret — that war drives climate change — is carefully guarded. To keep things hush-hush the military is excused from oversight or obligation. This exception to the rule of law has always been the practice but G.W. Bush formalized it demanding language to that effect in the 1997 Kyoto Accords, which he later refused to sign anyway...The complete U.S. military exemption from greenhouse gas emissions calculations includes more than 1,000 U.S. bases in more than 130 countries around the world, it’s 6,000 facilities in the U.S., its aircraft carriers and jet aircraft. Also excluded are its weapons testing and all multilateral operations such as the giant U.S. commanded NATO military alliance and AFRICOM, the U.S. military alliance now blanketing Africa. The provision also exempts U.S./UN-sanctioned activities of “peacekeeping” and “humanitarian relief.”
  • We could never get a grip on it. It made you crazy. When you deal with the Pentagon, you go into a world of mirrors. It was a morass. Impossible to figure out.
    • Samuel Hoskinson, quoted from Bass, G. J. (2014). The Blood telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a forgotten genocide.
  • By every measure, the Pentagon is the largest institutional user of petroleum products and energy … Yet, the Pentagon has a blanket exemption in all international climate agreements … Any talk of climate change which does not include the military is nothing but hot air... It’s a loophole [in the Kyoto Convention on Climate Change] big enough to drive a tank through, according to the report ” A Climate of War.” In 1940, the US military consumed one percent of the country’s total energy usage; by the end of World War II, the military’s share rose to 29 percent....Militarism is the most oil-exhaustive activity on the planet, growing more so with faster, bigger, more fuel-guzzling planes, tanks and naval vessels employed in more intensive air and ground wars. At the outset of the Iraq war in March 2003, the Army estimated it would need more than 40 million gallons of gasoline for three weeks of combat, exceeding the total quantity used by all Allied forces in the four years of World War 1. Among the Army’s armamentarium were 2,000 staunch M-1 Abrams tanks fired up for the war and burning 250 gallons of fuel per hour.
  • We are all saddened by the barbarism of humanity. The most negative manifestation of free will is seen in outbursts of war. People refuse to think about the terrible currents they evoke by mass murder and the consequences it will bring. The ancient Scriptures correctly warned that he who lives by the sword will perish by the sword. There is a difference between the karma of aggression and that of defense. It can be shown how aggressors suffer the most grievous consequences... People delude themselves by thinking that great conquerors do not reap bad karma... Aggressors burden their karma not only by killing but also by polluting the atmosphere... The poisoning of Earth and of the other spheres is long-lasting. You who intrude into the lands of your neighbors, has no one told you the consequences of your fratricide? Our Abode has witnessed many wars, and We can testify how this evil is increasing in the most unexpected ways... How sad We are to see free will, which was bestowed as the Highest Gift, manifested in this horrible, uncontrolled way. 88.
  • In 2010, I was one of about two-dozen people—including social scientists, an Iraqi medical doctor, a journalist, and two human-rights lawyers—who started the Costs of War Project at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies. We were nearly a decade into the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, initiated in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks by President George W. Bush and being carried on at the time by President Barack Obama. Anthropologist Catherine Lutz, political scientist Neta Crawford, and I were then concerned that Americans weren't paying enough attention to what those wars were costing in lives and dollars... the Pentagon frequently failed to keep track of the money it spent, while its officials often entered made-up numbers in logs supposedly tracking supplies (like weaponry) to... influence future congressional funding. As we were soon to discover, the Department of Defense routinely failed even to keep track of whom it owed money to, no less how much... What's more, congressional funding for additional expenses unrelated to overseas wars, while stuffed into the Pentagon base budget, was regularly justified by this thing called “terrorism" that was everywhere (and nowhere) at once. Those terror wars of ours increased that base budget by at least $884 billion from 2001 to 2022.
  • Some 10 years after the Costs of War Project's initial launch, the project, now led by Stephanie Savell, Catherine Lutz, and Neta Crawford, is 50-people strong and has tracked so many things, including the more than 929,000 people killed in those wars of ours, almost half of them civilians, and the $8 trillion spent on them. That figure, however, doesn't even include future interest payments on war borrowing, which we have estimated may total $6.5 trillion by the 2050s... Every American should check out the Costs of War Project website to see how much money we're still spending on military operations and decide for themselves whether it might not be better spent domestically.
  • The Government Rules by Force, Fraud and Deception. The information blockade starts with the military itself. The military purposely restricts information plus its immense size and bureaucratic complexity means that it is so hard to grasp that political leaders cannot themselves understand the institution they are supposed to command.
    You want proof? Just try reading the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) 2016 report which could not figure out just how much oil the military burns. The GAO concluded: “Congress does not have full visibility over the amount of fuel volume the military services require on an annual basis for their activities…”
    This should not come as a surprise. Since its inception in 1950 or so the modern military has resisted any accounting of costs in violation of Article I, Section 9, of the US Constitution. In 2018 the Pentagon failed its first ever audit. It’s not just about the missing 6.5 trillions dollars, (although that really matters too) it’s that the opaque accounting system is armor — a defensive weapon used to neutralize anyone that wants to understand, let alone oppose, the US government.
  • A retired army colonel commissioned by the Pentagon to examine the war in Afghanistan concluded the conflict created conditions that have given "warlordism, banditry and opium production a new lease on life
  • Osama Bin Laden and George Bush were both terrorists. They were both building international networks that perpetrate terror and devastate people’s lives. Bush with the Pentagon, the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank. Bin Laden with Al-Qaeda. The difference is that nobody elected Bin Laden... The United States supported Saddam Hussein and made sure that he ruled with an iron fist for all those years. Then they used the sanctions to break the back of civil society. Then they made Iraq disarm. Then they attacked Iraq. And now they’ve taken over all its assets.
    • Arundhati Roy in The Shape of the Beast: Conversations with Arundhati Roy (2008)
  • Days after U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered a new investigation into a clandestine airstrike that killed scores of Syrian noncombatants whose deaths were subsequently covered up, 24 advocacy groups on Wednesday published an open letter calling on the Pentagon to "reckon with U.S.-caused civilian casualties and commit to urgent reforms." The letter, addressed to Austin, expresses "grave concerns" about the Pentagon's "civilian harm policies and practices and their impact," citing an August 29 drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan that killed 10 civilians including an aid worker and seven children, as well as a March 18, 2019 airstrike in Baghuz, Syria in which around 70 civilians died and was "flagged as a possible war crime by at least one Defense Department lawyer...The Defense Department's response to the Kabul and Baghuz strikes also underscores the department's repeated failure to adequately investigate alleged civilian harm—including possible war crimes, as required under international law—and provide compensation or amends," it adds.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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