December 8th, 2014
02:24 PM ET

Can Carter rein in the Pentagon?

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Fareed Zakaria

Ashton Carter, the President's nominee to be the next defense secretary, is a brilliant man. But by far the best quality he has going for him is that he seems to understand the need to rein in a Pentagon now so out of control that it is difficult to fully comprehend or even explain.

The largest government bureaucracy in the world, the Department of Defense, even after billions of dollars in cuts, now spends about $600 billion a year when everything is added in – that’s more than the entire GDP of Poland. It employs 1.4 million men and women in uniform, 700,000 civilians, and another 700,000 full time contractors. The Pentagon's accounts are so vast and byzantine that it is probably impossible to do a thorough and honest audit of them.

Still, a recent Government Accountability Office report made a valiant effort and concluded that the total budget overruns for current weapons systems stand at nearly $500 billion. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program alone is now around $150 billion over budget. In other words, the cost overruns on one weapons system are more than the total defense budget of Britain and France put together!

In 1961, Dwight Eisenhower warned against the "unwarranted influence" of the "military-industrial complex."

Fifty years later, on December 15, 2011 – to mark the anniversary of Eisenhower's address – a renowned defense expert argued that things had gotten much worse and far more corrupt. Congress had itself been captured by the system, he said, which should now be called "the military-industrial-congressional complex."

Watch the video for the full Take or read the WaPo column

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Topics: Fareed's Take

soundoff (200 Responses)
  1. Brad

    Durga Maa can tickle my bollz

    December 9, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
  2. Brad

    Durga Maa can tickle my b ollz.

    December 9, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
  3. Brad

    Lord Rama just f ukked Modi

    December 9, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
  4. Brad

    Modi's a zz was waterboarded by Maoists. LOL

    December 9, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
  5. Brad

    The hindoo muther f ukkers ran away from this forum. A zzholes from India.

    December 9, 2014 at 1:13 pm |
    • Sarita

      There aren't any Hindus on this forum. There are only tired, ignorant trolls such as yourself.

      December 9, 2014 at 1:20 pm |
      • Brad

        and you are mother theresa? Lol

        December 9, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
      • Sarita

        That would make me not only alive, but RC. 😴

        December 9, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
      • Brad

        You are more dumb than I reckoned. Om Om Om

        December 9, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
      • Sarita

        Not really. You brought up a dead Indian woman, so I corrected you. I'm not the one that looked dumber than a box of hair.

        December 9, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
      • Cristobal

        Sarita, you ARE dumb. Really.

        December 10, 2014 at 5:09 am |
  6. Observer

    Are you having fun posting all that nastiness under my name. Maybe its electric shock therapy you need. Because i dont think physchiatry will be enough.

    December 9, 2014 at 4:31 pm |
  7. Philip

    Actually, Eisenhower was one of the first big beneficiaries of the MIC. Not as big as Brown&Root Haliburton, but the S. American plantations,Eisenhower owned weren't nothing to sneeze at. Or try to nationalize, if duly elected leader.

    December 9, 2014 at 6:19 pm |
  8. Philip

    Woa. Worlds deadest blog.

    December 9, 2014 at 6:20 pm |
  9. Philip

    You see, American businessmen like Dwight Eisenhower owning plantations in S. America "got smart". They figured if they planted,crops closer together they would make more money. What happened was nature made more insects to counter. Then these businessmen got even smarter: importing African killer bees to kill natures insects. You know the rest of the story, Paul Harvey. Good evening.

    December 9, 2014 at 6:34 pm |
  10. Billy Beer

    Leave my brother out of this.

    December 9, 2014 at 6:55 pm |
  11. Cristobal

    Modi needs to be put on trial in ICJ for crimes against humanity.

    December 10, 2014 at 5:10 am |
  12. Aliyu Mantafien

    Great article sir! All your Posts are really interested. I love this great website!

    April 14, 2019 at 5:58 pm |
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