Memoirs of a Defense Contractor: Surviving a Career in the Defense Industry
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His policy of communist containment started the Cold War, and he initiated U. Truman left office in and died in Truman was the first of three children born to John Anderson Truman, a farmer and mule trader, and his wife, Martha Ellen Truman. Truman grew up on the family farm in Independence, Missouri, and did not attend college.
He worked a variety of jobs after high school, first as a timekeeper for a railroad construction company, and then as a clerk and a bookkeeper at two separate banks in Kansas City. After five years, he returned to farming and joined the National Guard. When World War I erupted, Truman volunteered for duty. Though he was 33 years-old—two years older than the age limit for the draft—and eligible for exemption as a farmer, he helped organize his National Guard regiment, which was ultimately called into service in the th Field Artillery.
Truman was promoted to captain in France and assigned Battery D, which was known for being the most unruly battery in the regiment. In spite of a generally shy and modest temperament, Truman captured the respect and admiration of his men and led them successfully through heavy fighting during the Meuse-Argonne campaign.
But with America experiencing an economic decline in the early s, the business failed in He refused to accept bankruptcy and insisted on paying back all the money he borrowed, which took more than 15 years. About this time, he was approached by Democratic boss Thomas Pendergast, whose nephew James served with Truman during the war. Pendergast appointed Truman to a position as an overseer of highways, and after a year, chose him to run for one of three county-judge positions in Jackson County.
The Ambush: April 15, 2009
He was elected judge, which was an administrative rather than a judicial position, but he was defeated when he ran for a second term. Truman ran again in and was elected as a presiding judge, a position he held until he ran for senator. Truman was elected to the United States Senate in Along with Senator Burton Wheeler, Truman began investigating railroads, and in , he initiated legislation that imposed tighter federal regulation on the railroads, which helped him establish his reputation as a man of integrity.
In his second term, Truman chaired a special committee to investigate the National Defense Program to prevent war profiteering and wasteful spending in defense industries. He gained public support and recognition for his straightforward reports and practical recommendations, and he won the respect of his colleagues and the populace alike. When Roosevelt had to choose a running mate for the presidential election, he deemed his acting vice president, Henry Wallace, unacceptable. Wallace was disliked by many of the senior Democrats in Washington, and since it was apparent that Roosevelt might not survive his fourth term, the vice presidential pick was especially important.
Truman was initially reluctant to accept, but once he received the nomination, he campaigned vigorously. Roosevelt and Truman were elected in November , and Truman took the oath of office on January 20, He served as vice president just 82 days before Roosevelt died of a massive stroke, and he was sworn in as president on April 12, With no prior experience in foreign policy, Truman was thrust into the role of commander in chief and charged with ending a world war.
Although the Soviet Union had been a powerful ally to the United States during the war, international relations deteriorated quickly when it became apparent that the Soviets intended to remain in control of Eastern European nations that were expected to be reestablished according to their pre- Hitler governments. This, along with the exclusion of the Soviets from the reconstruction of Asia, began the Cold War. The final outcome was a win for Truman with Harry Truman holds up the newspaper cover that falsely predicted his defeat.
The program was a mixed success. In , racial discrimination was banned in federal government hiring practices, the military was desegregated and the minimum wage had gone up. National health insurance was rejected, as was more money for education. After a brief wave of public support for his decision, criticism mounted. Truman initially endorsed a rollback strategy and encouraged General Douglas MacArthur to breach the 38th parallel, bringing forces into North Korea to take over the government. There is, of course, nothing new about any of this.
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It is a real threat to the public interest because it increases the chances of abuse… How hard a bargain will officers involved in procurement planning or specifications drive when they are one or two years from retirement and have the example to look at over 2, fellow officers doing well on the outside after retirement?
Such revolving-door hires and former defense executives in government remain a powerful force for the status quo in Pentagon spending. They exert influence as needed to keep big-ticket weapons programs like the F combat aircraft up and running, whether they are needed or not, whether they work as promised or not. For his part, President Trump has repeatedly bragged about his role in promoting defense-related employment in key states, both from Pentagon budget increases and the sale of arms to repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia.
Caught Between Conscience and Career
In March , he held a one-hour campaign-style rally for workers at a tank plant in Lima, Ohio, at which he typically suggested that his budget increases had saved their jobs. The reason? Unsurprisingly, Trump seems fine with this congressional initiative affecting the key battleground state of Pennsylvania , which still needs to survive a House-Senate conference on the defense bill.
The bottom line: Donald Trump is likely to oppose any changes that might have even the smallest impact on employment in states where he needs support in election campaign And keep in mind that this president is far from alone in taking such a stance.
Similar reelection pressures led former President Jimmy Carter to increase Pentagon spending at the end of his term and caused the George H. Bush administration to reverse a decision to cancel the troubled V Osprey, a novel part-helicopter, part-airplane that would later be implicated in crashes killing dozens of Marines.
There are areas that could easily yield major savings with sufficient political will and persistence. Billions more could be saved by eliminating unnecessary military bases. Even the Pentagon claims that it has 20 percent more facilities than it needs. Real reform would also mean changing how the Pentagon does business not to speak of the way it makes war.
Stalin Attacks the Red Army
Such savings would naturally start by simply curbing the corruption that comes from personnel in high positions who are guaranteed to put the interests of defense contractors ahead of those of taxpayers and the real needs of American security. There are also few restrictions on former officials working for foreign governments and almost no public disclosure on the subject.
The Project On Government Oversight found hundreds of Pentagon officials leaving for defense industry jobs, raising obvious questions about whether decisions they made were in the public interest or meant to advance their own future paydays. Real reform would close the many loopholes in current ethics laws, extend cooling-off periods between when an official leaves government and when he or she can work for an arms contractor, and make far more prominent information about when retired national security officials switch teams from government to industry or vice versa.
One outcome of his initiative, however, will definitely not be money-saving in any way. It will be to boost spending on high-tech systems like missile defense and artificial intelligence on the almost laughable grounds given the past history of weapons development that they can provide more military capability for less money. As longtime Pentagon reformer Tom Christie has pointed out , to really change the acquisition system would require building in significantly more discipline.
That would mean demonstrating the effective and reliable use of new technology through rigorous field-testing before advancing fragile weapons systems to the production stage, ensuring future maintenance and other headaches for troops in combat. There is, in addition, a larger issue underlying all this talk of spending reform at the Pentagon.
In reality, the economy and military of Russia, a shaky petro-state only passing for a great power, are already overshadowed by those of the U. Throwing more money at the Pentagon will do nothing to change Russian behavior in a positive fashion. Taking measures that are in the interests of both countries, like renewing the New START nuclear reduction treaty and beginning new talks on curbing their massive nuclear arsenals, would be extremely valuable in their own right and might also open the door to negotiations on other issues of mutual concern.
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