Oliver North is upset. It seems that the Pentagon's increasing reliance on civilian contractors is to receive a minor degree of scrutiny, a development he characterizes as involving "threats of inquisitions," which is literally true insomuch as that Congress will perhaps make some inquiries into the matter. Naturally, North has been adverse to congressional oversight ever since Congress forced him to lie about the crimes he had committed in service to what he once referred to as the "neat idea" of selling weapons to Iran. He is not keen on the media, either; both, North says, are today motivated by some sort of sinister, fifth column pacifism. "Disparaging and de-funding civilian contractors is just one more way of disarming America," he explains in the pages of Human Events, itself reportedly the favorite magazine of the president who once had to fire him.
One might point out that objections to private suppliers of men and arms are nothing new and have in fact been made by several prominent American statesmen who obviously had no desire to see American disarmed, and that this would certainly seem to refute the argument that those who make such objections are necessarily seeking to disarm America. In fact, I was about to make this very point when I found that North had, bizarrely, made it himself:
In the opening days of World War II, then Sen. Harry Truman became famous for threatening to "lock up" civilian contractors for producing sub-par munitions, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower ominously warned against the threat of a "military-industrial complex."
However, [the anti-contractor rhetoric of Eisenhower and Truman] is pale by comparison to the viscera now being aimed at civilian contractors supporting the campaigns in the land between the Tigris and Euphrates and in the shadow of the Hindu Kush.
"Contractor" is the new "dirty word" in the so-called mainstream media -- and in Washington.
In April, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced plans to hire 30,000 additional DoD employees to cut the percentage of work being done by contractors. The FY 2010 Defense Budget request replaces nearly 14,000 contractor personnel with government employees -- even though the "lifetime cost" -- counting government benefits and retirement -- will more than double the expense to American taxpayers.
But the Obama administration and their supporters on Capitol Hill need to understand that when it comes to spending, there are few things government can do that has a more immediate, positive effect on jobs and the overall the economy than expenditures on national defense.
Like any truly mediocre thinker, North does not anticipate the obvious counterpoint to his sudden and disingenuous call for fiscal restraint via increased mercenary deployment -- the counterpoint that price-gouging, late deliveries, and shoddy worksmanship on the part of his beloved contractors have already cost the American taxpayer billions in wasted dollars, with several incidents having resulted in injuries and even deaths among our troops and Iraqis alike. Here is a man who cannot see two steps ahead of his own argument and who does not seem to recall things he himself wrote months ago or even just a few sentences prior, as if he were a goldfish with thumbs and a keyboard and a crack pipe that somehow works underwater.
North is not content to assail the federal government for doing what he recently told it to do or to blast the mainstream media for things it hasn't actually done -- he is also compelled to attack the media for failing to report things that it has in fact reported countless times:
Though it's unlikely to make the lead story in any of the mainstream media, contractors are performing tasks that U.S. government entities either cannot do -- or that cannot be done as economically.
There are legitimate reasons for the Pentagon to employ civilian contractors and outside firms to assist with a variety of tasks both at home and abroad; there are also legitimate reasons to call attention to the problems that have come up as a result. But there is no legitimate reason to accuse large swaths of the American citizenry of seeking to disarm America each time serious concerns are voiced by the media, our elected representatives, or members of the military; to deem such objections as being motivated by hatred for the armed forces or by a desire to see America disarmed, one would have to be a hyperactive crypto-fascist like Oliver North. That lets Oliver North off the hook, of course.