With the 2016 Presidential election already heating up, the drums of war can be heard echoing through Washington as militaristic Republican hawks attempt to outdo each other in their support of American interventionism and neocolonialism. Much of the political and monetary support for this war-mongering in the upcoming election will come from the lobby group founded by ex-chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers (R-MI) with the euphemistic goal of “electing a president who supports American engagement and a strong foreign policy”. The group’s Orwellian name, Americans for Peace, Prosperity, and Security (APPS) was presumably chosen because the real name, Military-Industrial Contractors for War, Death, and Destruction, didn’t have the right ring to it. APPS has registered as a 501(c)(4) rather than a PAC and therefore is not required to release information about its donors. Even so, it is not hard to determine that the group is merely another front for the military-industrial complex, its board being chock full of men with intimate ties to the “defense” industry and riddled with conflicts of interest.
Chairman Mike Rogers himself, who demonstrated his ignorance of national intelligence by declaring that Edward Snowden was a Russian double agent, has already benefited from his cozy ties with the war machine. In Congress Rogers has repeatedly touted the need for “more surveillance” in the United States, supported the CISPA bill to allow the government unlimited internet surveillance, and has been one of the House’s staunchest NSA apologists. All of this while his wife, Kristi Rogers, was serving as President and CEO of Aegis LLC, a defense contractor with a $10 billion contract to provide security and intelligence-gathering services to the State Department. While he should have been indicted for such corruption, Rogers has instead strolled through the revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street.
The APPS Board reads like a who’s who of the defense industry. Among its members are the CEO of VT systems, which provides communications technology to the Defense Department; an owner of the defense consulting firm RiceHadleyGates and board member of military contractor Raytheon; the CEO of EPE Corporation, one of the main DoD manufacturing suppliers; the president of the Business Roundtable, a lobbying consortium that represents military-industrial giants such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman; the founder of Insight Technologies, a military technology provider; the director of strategy for BAE Systems, one of the nation’s largest defense contractors; and the former CEO of both BAE and SAIC, another large contractor, who was partially paid in stock options. The list goes on and and on, a depressing and disgusting reminder of the influence on our political system wielded by men who kill for a living, and are rewarded handsomely for it.
The group of military fat cats that run the show at APPS plan on becoming “the premier national security and foreign policy” lobby in the 2016 election, and have already made inroads in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, with many other states on their kill list. The group has already held private meetings with several candidates, and Republican joke-of-a-candidate Carly Fiorina appeared at an APPS event in New Hampshire, where the group is a prominent partner of the state Republican Party.
The corrupt effects of giving over political control to men for whom war and death is profit have already been tragically demonstrated. In case anyone needs a refresher, former Vice President Dick Cheney received a $34 million pay-off when he resigned as CEO of oilfield services provider Halliburton in order to join the contemporary Bush dynasty ticket. He then pushed aggressively for the 2003 invasion of Iraq in spite of all actual facts and evidence, and Halliburton received some $40 billion in defense and oil-exploration contracts from the US government, often in deals for which there were no other bidders. This criminally misguided war-for-profit resulted in the killing of more than 500,000 Iraqis; Halliburton’s cash-out thus works out to about $80,000 for every Iraqi slaughtered.
The spirit of the Halliburton-Cheney corruption is being kept alive today by Rogers, his band of military-industrial cronies, and APPS. American politics has increasingly been given over to corporate backers, and politicians have become stooges of the lobbyists they represent. When it is the military industry making the payoffs, however, American democracy is not the only casualty; tens of thousands will die around the world if the men of APPS have their way, and they will be paid for it.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.