I attended a recent talk on “defense cooperation” between the United States and the Arab world. Inevitably, no one on the panel of five bothered to ask why the United States should be fueling an arms race by selling to nearly every country in the region, but as each speaker had a personal interest in arming everyone to the teeth, the omission was perhaps understandable. It reminded me of Upton Sinclair’s famous quip that “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
One panelist was a senior employee of a major defense contractor. The other speakers were also cogs in the military-industrial complex. Most of the panelists were somewhat nuanced in their pronouncements even if they could not avoid slipping into government-speak with its mixture of acronyms and expressions like “kinetic” and “COIN doctrine” that are only used when Pentagon guys get together over a brewski (or when they are trying to impress a congressional committee).