This PaiaGirl article was originally posted in DownWithTyranny.
Hanabusa: Using bipartisan coziness with defense contractors to tout China Cold War and promote military spending
When given the chance, Hawai’i voters reject candidates who favor a hawkish foreign policy. Despite the military playing a major role in the local economy, Hawai’i residents don’t want to see more war or unnecessary defense spending.
In 2004, Hawai’i gave John Kerry 54% of the vote in his effort to remove President Bush, despite Vice President Cheney’s fear mongering.
In the 2006 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, reactionary Congressman Ed Case sought to oust Senator Daniel Akaka on the basis of the incumbent’s opposition to the Iraq War and the Patriot Act. Akaka’s pro-peace agenda was rewarded with 54% of the primary vote (he cruised to re-election against token opposition in the general).
In 2008, Hawai’i voters rejected the McCain-Palin agenda of interminable war by giving the Obama-Biden ticket its highest margin of victory of any state. Obama got 70% of the vote.
In 2012, Hawai’i voters emphasized their distaste for pro-war politics, as Case was again defeated in a Democratic primary (this time by progressive Mazie Hirono, who crushed him in the primary and Republican Linda Lingle in the general, by 17 and 25 percentage points, respectively) and Obama again received 70% of the vote over aggressively pro-war Mitt Romney (once again making Hawai`i his best state).
Given Hawaii’s strong (and apparently increasing) preference for peace, it’s strange Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa is running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Senator Brian Schatz by stoking a cold war with China and lavishing praise on her defense-contractor benefactors.
Then again, considering that Hanabusa chairs the National Security Task Force of the right-leaning New Democrat Coalition and Buck McKeon’s Congressional Drone Caucus, her tack is perhaps not so surprising.
Cold War with China
There’s nobody in Congress more committed to maintaining and increasing military spending than Republican Randy Forbes of Northern Virginia. He has a robust section of his Congressional website dedicated to raising fear of the risk to America without more spending on weapons systems and defense contractors. He’s shrewd enough to recognize that non-state terrorist threats don’t justify traditional forms of military spending, so he founded and chairs the Congressional China Caucus.
The caucus is composed of conservative Republicans and Democrats and promotes the wildly unlikely possibility of another Pearl Harbor attack, this time from China, and similar military risks.
Incidentally, Forbes also founded and co-chairs the Congressional Prayer Caucus (co-chaired by Blue Dog Democrat Mike McIntyre), whose members include Michele Bachmann, Paul Broun, Virginia Foxx, and Joe Wilson. There aren’t many prayers for peace emanating from that group.
This may the reason the U.S. military is stocking up on littoral combat ships (‘LCS’ for fighting on the China coastline) and may explain then state senator Hanabusa teaming up with Sen Inouye and Republican Gov. Linda Lingle to exempt the Hawaii Superferry from environmental review. That corporate handout to presidential candidate, John McCain’s defense advisor, John Lehman‘s company left the taxpayers whistling for almost $200 million in MARAD and state loans.
Opponents of this corporate hand-out maintained that this project was actually a prototype test for the military’s new littoral ship design and was unsuited for civilian transportation between islands. Lo and behold, the Navy did take them over as LCS after Hawaii Superferry went belly up.
Hanabusa spent last week supporting Forbes in his effort to generate more interest in spending on weaponry to beat China and to chastise the Obama Administration for not doing enough to prepare for World War III.
Here’s a press release issued by her office:
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) and J. Randy Forbes, Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommitee [sic], delivered remarks at the release of a new study from the Center for Strategic and Budget Assessments entitled “Shaping America’s Future Military: Toward a New Force Planning Construct.”
The study, authored by CSBA’s Mark Gunzinger, develops insights from the Department of Defense’s previous force planning constructs, and then builds on them to identify elements of a new construct that could help the U.S. military to prepare for the future.
“This report comes at a particularly significant crossroads for our nation’s defense forces,” said Hanabusa. “Our shift to the Asia-Pacific region [i.e., Cold War with China] will call for a fresh look at not only our defense posture, but how we integrate concerns for economic and diplomatic stability as well. We face vital strategic choices and must have the clarity to look beyond budget concerns [emphasis added; message: "spend, spend, spend!] to a long term strategy to deal with a changing world and emerging threats. This is not a partisan issue; it is the question of our nation’s future. I am pleased and proud to join Chairman Forbes in fostering this discussion.”
“The failure of the Defense Department to adequately prepare for the threat of sequestration is just the most recent example of the importance of long-range strategic planning, a discipline which seems nearly forgotten in today’s Washington,” Mr. Forbes said. “I’m pleased to join with my Armed Services Committee colleague, Congresswoman Hanabusa, at the release of CSBA’s newest report offering a detailed plan for the future of America’s military. Nothing could be less partisan than the long-term health of the U.S. Armed Forces.”
Hanabusa and Forbes share a foreign-policy vision and a love for one another’s intellect:
What could be more nonpartisan than a new cold war two decades after the last one ended and a dozen years after 9/11? Obviously, something new is needed to help at-risk defense contractors.
Hanabusa previewed her joint appearance with Forbes by issuing a press release a few days earlier that extolled the new National Defense Authorization Act and its support for “the U.S. pivot to the Asia Pacific region” and for keeping open all existing U.S. bases. In the release, though, she lamented that the NDAA doesn’t authorize enough military spending:
“Unfortunately, the NDAA does not address the unthinking across-the-board reductions that arise from sequestration, and once again demonstrates the importance of removing those draconian cuts. The House Armed Services Committee has heard defense officials describe over and over again the harsh impacts these across-the-board cuts have on to our military; we have already seen some of the damage. Continuing to do nothing is not a responsible alternative. We have a job to do, and things won’t get better unless and until we finally address the problem. I am confident my defense savings reporting requirements in this legislation will help outline a path forward for dealing with sequestration. “
As a backup measure, Hanabusa even buttressed her case for more military spending by raising the specter of war with India earlier this spring:
Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa spoke at the Brookings Institution, one of the nation’s most influential think tanks based in Washington, D.C., about the United States’ strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific.
Hanabusa, member of the House Armed Services Committee, reiterated that U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region will represent additional capabilities. “This new force can take on greater humanitarian missions,” she said, “allowing the United States’ military presence in the Pacific to have implications far beyond what we classically consider within our defense posture. Clearly the role of the military will no longer be simply that of a fighting force; it will also bear a diplomatic and humanitarian face and, as a stated purpose, enable trade and economic growth in the area. As President Obama has said, the Asia-Pacific region will largely define whether the 21st century will be marked by conflict or cooperation.”
Hanabusa also pointed out that current prosperity in the region demonstrates both a need and a product of the U.S. presence. “Continuous U.S. presence in the Asia Pacific is needed to balance the emergence of rising powers– rising powers that benefitted the most from the international order that was established by this US presence post WWII. The dynamic environment in Asia as a result of maintained peace has most recently propelled countries like China and India to remarkable growth.”
Increasing the U.S presence in the region also offers technological and economic benefits, said Hanabusa. “Military technology is our equalizer, and the edge that we have in R&D will keep us viable in the manufacturing industry. China and India may have an advantage in labor costs, but they hold none of the abilities we have in highly advanced defense technologies. If we can merge this military edge back to the private sector, we can take advantage of the edge we possess and maintain our status as the world’s greatest nation.
Give her credit for consistency, back in 2011 she was advocating for more military spending in Roll Call, contending that war with somebody in Asia was inevitable:
“The Pacific is undeniably the theater of the future.”
Coziness With Defense IndustryAccording to the ACLU, “BAE Systems (is) a multi-billion dollar military contractor that profits from the exploitative labor of people behind bars.”According to the FEC, BAE Systems is also a major Hanabusa campaign contributor.According to Hanabusa’s official website, BAE Systems is deserving of congratulations.
She used her bipartisan military-spending credibility to convince a Republican-led Congressional committee to hold a “Defense Industry Roundtable” in her district last year and to convince House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (of defense-contract-rich Maryland) to hold a high-dollar D.C. fundraiser for her Senate campaign last week.
Shortly before she announced her run for Senate, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (headed by former Blue Dog and defense-contractor-friendly Steve Israel) hosted a Hanabusa fundraiser. Considering that her Congressional district is one of the most heavily Democratic in the nation, the DCCC’s interest in ostensibly supporting her House campaign seemed a little odd.
She showed her loyalty to her No. 2 contributor Northrup Grumman in 2011 by traveling to Pennsylvania to participate in a House Armed Services Committee hearing on how to make defense procurement easier for contractors. She proudly touted her participation on her Congressional website.
So, give her points for transparency. Her website is replete with tributes to defense contractors and military spending. For that and other actions, she’s been rewarded by the industry.
It’s hard to believe she’ll be similarly rewarded by Hawaii’s electorate in the primary on August 9, 2014. But she does have more than a year to use that contractor money to tarnish Senator Schatz.
Even with this defense-contractor money, things look bleak for Colleen Hanabusa.
Every Hawai’i candidate who is endorsed by both labor and environment wins. She’s lost labor and although the big environmental organizations like Sierra Club have not yet endorsed, observers think that Schatz is a shoo-in for their support.
Hanabusa went up against the Sierra Club in their lawsuit over the exempting of the Superferry from environmental review (and lost) and she angered environmentalists by voting with the GOP to exempt coal-fired boilers from increased EPA standards.
Sen. Brian Schatz, on the other hand, has made climate change a key cause. Add in peace and progressive groups plus Schatz’s powerful fundraising and Hawaii’s distaste for conservative war hawks and Hanabusa’s future is looking mighty shaky.
You can judge for yourself if you’re going to the Netroots Nation in San Jose this week. Yep, the CISPA and FISA-loving Chair of the New Dems’ National Security Task Force, Colleen Hanabusa, will be hanging out with progressive bloggers. Strange bedfellows.
People from the mainland often look at Hawai’i Democratic primaries and try to say that they break on ethnic politics. Although ethnicity does play some role, ideology and values are actually the decisive point, which is why progressives have been beating conservatives. Recall, that in 2004, Dennis Kucinich actually won Hawai’i's Second Congressional district (caucuses)– a direct reaction to the Iraq War, and a sign that progressives were beginning to gain traction.
In 2006, besides Akaka over the reactionary Case, Hawai’i-observers also saw progressive Mazie Hirono defeating corrupt conservative Colleen Hanabusa in the primary to replace Case in his congressional district. And then in 2010, voters also chose progressive Neil Abercrombie over conservative Mufi Hannemann for governor, and Brian Schatz over conservative Norman Sakamoto for Lt. Gov.
If you’d like to help reelect Senator Schatz and defeat a corporatist, conservative challenger, here is Brian Schatz’s donation page .