Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lions for Lambs and the US propaganda machine

The US propaganda machine is one of the most dangerous tools in the United States. I just watched the first half hour of the propaganda movie, “Lions for Lambs”. I love movies and I enjoy the talents of Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. Having watched previews I was pretty sure the movie was a propaganda piece designed to mis-inform the public. During an interview between Meryl Streep (playing a reporter) and Tom Cruise (playing a “hawkish” US Senator) the propaganda really became obvious.

There was a simple exchange that lasted a few seconds. Meryl Streep asked Tom Cruise about “up armored Humvees “. Anyone interested in this subject already understands the issue.

Back in 2005 and 2006 the US media made a big deal about “up armored Humvees” and the Bush administration was blamed for sending our military to war with inadequate equipment.

Improvised Explosive Devices and Land Mines are not new tools for military action. These were popular tools in Vietnam too. In Vietnam the soldiers used to shovel dirt and sand into the bottom of their vehicles to reduce shrapnel and absorb energy.

What changed? We will get to that, first lets discuss the basics of a military contract.

In a nut shell the Pentagon (joint forces or a single branch of the military) sends out a notice that they are interested in purchasing a product with specific capabilities. A bunch of companies come up with bid proposals and submit them. The Pentagon will choose the supplier and order the equipment.

Sounds pretty simple?

Not really. The contracts are huge. Congress and the President are heavily involved in the appropriation of the money for the purchase.

To get the money for the purchase the Pentagon goes to the President and requests a budget that includes money for the purchase. The President puts the money into the budget. The budget is presented to Congress which votes on it and the Pentagon receives the money.

Still sound simple? Not really.

The President and Congress balance the expense against the need by the military and the various districts that are producing the materials for the Pentagon Purchase.

When the US military purchases a bunch of steel the price of steel goes up. This influences the cost of many consumer products like cars. Congress works with the suppliers to make sure that the contracts don't create too much demand and push costs up too far.

In 2008 during a period of huge demand for steel the price of scrap steel tripled, in no small part that demand was “encouraged” by contracts for up-armoring military vehicles.

So why wasn't the armor included in the original order, when were those original Humvees without up-armor ordered? 1983 by a Democratic Congress and the Reagan administration. So who authorized the original contracts specifications and bidding process? That was done during the Carter administration in 1979.

Carter? Reagan? Not George Bush? Sorry, but George W. Bush was about as responsible for the armor content of Humvee as you are for the murder of Sharon Tate.

After the original Reagan order the Clinton administration ordered more standard Humvees without armor. You can read about the history of AMG at

So far we have been able to blame Carter, Reagan and Clinton and not Bush.

If IEDs and Land Mines have been a big deal for many years what changed between Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Bush?

Cell phones and pagers.

Previous Mines and IEDs typically depended on local electro-mechanical trigger systems. Wireless systems like cell phones gave guerrilla fighters the ability to remote overwatch and reliably detonate the devices.

No matter how much armor we put on a vehicle someone will just build a bigger bomb to blast through that armor.

So why up-armor Humvees? Because the stronger the armor the more explosives per blast and the fewer total blasts.

Essentially the idea is to reduce the capabilities the guerrilla fighters have with the available resources.

Getting back to the real point of this blog, the US propaganda machine and Lions for Lambs, Meryl Streep plays a reporter who is ignorant of these basic and simple to research facts. When she presents a ridiculous question to Senator Tom Cruise he does not respond with the facts.

This gives the person viewing the movie the same idea presented in the media during the time the movie was made, that the Bush administration is responsible for the lack of armor on Humvees.

Could Carter or Reagan have forseen the wireless revolution and the use of cellphones to detonate roadside bombs?

The Clinton administration should have and for Humvees to be up-armored in 2003 the order would have had to be sent out in the 1990's. Since the World trade Center was attacked during the Clinton administration we can also say that future terrorist attacks against the US were also foreseeable by the Clinton administration.

Instead the US propaganda machine goes after Bush, who couldn't have done anything about up-armored Humvees and the ignorant bourgeois, the ignorant proletariat jump on a “lynching” bandwagon because they can't research the issue themselves and would rather let someone else tell them how and what to think.

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