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20 Jun, 2019 17:49

Shanahan out, Esper in: ‘Revolving door’ of lobbyists in Pentagon is like ‘money laundering’

Shanahan out, Esper in: ‘Revolving door’ of lobbyists in Pentagon is like ‘money laundering’

The replacement of one weapons industry lobbyist with another as the acting US defense secretary is just “business as usual” – and, in the US, appointing industry men to key government positions is nothing new, analysts tell RT.

Acting US defense secretary Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, stepped down earlier this week, to be replaced by Mark Esper, an ex-vice president of government relations at Raytheon.

The defense department is essentially a “procurement agency” for buying military equipment and weapons and is actually more a “money entity” than a “military entity,” former US diplomat and political analyst Jim Jatras has told RT.

Also on rt.com ‘Make millions and come back’: Revolving door alive & well in Trump’s Washington

“This is a self-perpetuating system of enrichment for the companies that are involved,”Jatras said, explaining that there was “nothing new going on” with Esper replacing Shanahan – except that it might just be a bit “more obvious” this time.

Jatras’ view was echoed by retired US Air Force officer Karen Kwiatkowski, who told RT that spending massive amounts of money on weapons is essentially the Pentagon's most major role.

“That’s all the Pentagon is. The Pentagon is a way to spend taxpayer dollars on mainly American industries. It’s almost a laundering operation in terms of spending money,”Kwiatkowski said.

The relationship works the other way around, too, Jatras said; government employees form relationships with these companies “with the expectation” that they will eventually land a job in the industry when they leave “at salaries far, far higher than they were making on the government payroll.”

These people “often go back and forth” between the two arenas – government and private industry – in what’s dubbed the “revolving door,” Jatras said.

Also on rt.com ‘You’ll soon find out’ if US will strike Iran - Trump

Esper’s appointment, however, does seem to be another instance in which US President Donald Trump has failed to deliver on his key campaign promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington DC, both analysts said.

It became clear that Trump was not draining the swamp when he hired the hawkish John Bolton and allowed him to “populate the national security council and other key offices with neoconservatives recycled from the early 2000s,” Kwiatkowski said.

While "nothing" he has done in the past 18 months has helped drain out the swamp creatures, Kwiatkowski said it’s not clear whether Trump has entirely given up on the pledge that was a “key battle cry” for his campaign during the 2016 election. It could be that he “has a problem in finding non-swamp dwellers that he believes can be confirmed by Congress.”

“Congress is not interested in draining the swamp – congress is the swamp.”

For Jatras, it appears that draining the swamp is “very far down” on the list of Trump’s priorities – and even if he does still consider the swamp a problem, he is “unwilling or unable to do anything about it.”

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