Why America's Military Is Physically Falling Apart

Nothing to see here, just the wheels falling off

A C-5 crash in Dover, 2006

To understand the state of America's military, just look at their Secretary of State. Antony Blinken's custom Boeing has been grounded twice this year. Meanwhile, ships Joe Biden sent to Gaza have caught fire or broke down along the way. The US military loses every war, its equipment is falling apart, and its soldiers are killing themselves. They don't even know what anything costs because the Pentagon is unauditable, six times over. This is the state of late-stage Empire. It's physically falling apart.

General Fuckery

To understand how America can have both the most expensive and most useless military in the world, just behold US Congressman winner Mike Waltz asking the Air Force Secretary how much a bag of bushings costs. The answer is $90,000 for what should cost maybe $100. A bag of nuts and bolts. This gets to the nuts of bolts of the issue. The bloated US military budget isn't a measure of effectiveness. It's a measure of fraud.

Dwight Eisenhower—who left this turd on America's doorstep—said “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” This wasn't a warning in hindsight, it was a promise. The military industrial complex is not even that complex anymore. What was a competitive defense industry has condensed down to five cronies. These warlords corrupt think tanks, NGOs, media, and government itself to become an inoperable cancer on the body politic.

Consolidation of carnage. Aerospace Commission Report (2002), page 134

Ike also said, “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals.” This really adds insult to injury. No one today would accuse Americans of being alert and knowledgeable. It's a nation of debt slaves, thinking they're philosopher kings because they get to give a Facebook thumbs up to the latest slaughter in the Cable TV Colosseum.

Insomuch as America ever had 'peaceful methods and goals', now their government just spreads chaos, using it as a ladder of bones. With Gaza or Ukraine, they don't care if the American people don't actually support these wars. They're still doing 'em. America's ruling elites are all about the money, everything else is just marketing. So the wars go on, one after another to cover up the fraud with more fraud. The insider traders in Congress get their cut, and some arms dealers in Bethesda get to remodel their kitchens.

Right now, the foxes are running the hen house and the future taxpayers (it's all debt) are getting plucked. The military industrial business model is the same as US private equity (or the mafia). They take over a 'company', load it up with debt, and then bleed the carcass dry. And everybody's in on it. Right now, a Raytheon board director (Lloyd Austin) is running the Defence (re: War) Department, and few US citizens are aware of this violent conflict of interest. The military industrial complex is running the whole show, under the command of General Fuckery.

Private Ponzi

The core reason America's military is the same reason my Toyota Vitz fell apart on the highway. Maintenance. America had a strong military generations ago, but those assets have long since depreciated and become liabilities. They keep covering this up by buying shiny new stuff, but that stuff doesn't even work and it's all depreciating into dust and fairy dust as we speak.

We'll get into it in detail, but for an example from just one theatre (Indo-Pacific), look at the difference between spending on new toys ('modernizing and strengthened presence') and maintenance ('improved logistics, maintenance capabilities, etc').

'Modernizing' gets $2.9 billion while maintenance gets only some fraction of $1.1 billion, lumped together with the other boring shit. Maintenance is fundamentally unsexy and nobody fucks with it.

Maintenance, however, is a compounding liability. The less you do it, the more you have to do. Just ask my old Vitz, which never went for regular service until it just melted on the highway and required a hideous engine rebuild. It cost me more than regular maintenance and I never trusted that car again. This is the basic rule of maintenance. You neglect it at your peril. As the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) says about not doing maintenance, “Over time this situation has resulted in worsening ship conditions and increased costs to repair and sustain ships.” And it's not just ships, the entire 'capital' base of the US military is literally being cannibalized.

They say a stitch in time saves nine, but this was before fast fashion. Why make one stitch when you can just spin billions out of whole cloth?

The Growth Ponzi

The problem with American military infrastructure is the problem with American infrastructure in general. It's all supposed to be run by 'the market' and the market does not give a fuck about maintenance, repair, or anything long term. Why would it? It's algorithmically programmed to think in quarters and not the long term and, as Keynes said, in the long term we're all dead. If you can make a billion dollar sale now and the liability falls on someone else's head decades later, who gives a shit? This isn't the fault of individually evil people, though these are individually evil people. If they didn't do it the 'shareholders' would throw them out and install someone that did. They're just cogs in the capitalist machine, and war is peak capitalism. Making really expensive products and immediately exploding them? *Chef's kiss*.

I'll take the long way around to explain this Ponzi concept because it's essential. So let's start with that other American war crime, the car-driven suburb. Charles Marohn of Strong Towns calls this phenomenon 'Growth Ponzi Scheme'. All of America's old, decaying infrastructure are unfunded liabilities, the maintenance barely covered by new schemes. A classic Ponzi.

America has built more roads than it can possibly maintain, using new loans to pay off the old ones. This is actually how most Americans live, using one credit card to pay off another. Marohn says that “American cities have a ticking time bomb of unfunded liability for infrastructure maintenance.” I argue that this same phenomenon applies to the American Empire itself. As Marohn says about suburbs:

The great American experiment in suburban development entices communities to take on long-term liabilities in exchange for near-term cash advantages (see Part 1). But as those liabilities cost the community more than the development creates in overall wealth, the approach ultimately results in insolvency (see Part 2). To forestall the day of reckoning, more growth is induced, setting up a Ponzi scheme scenario where revenue from new development is used to pay liabilities associated with old development (see Part 3). This is unsustainable, but that has not kept us from trying desperately to keep it all going.

This is a textbook Ponzi—paying for the old suckers off with the new suckers money—and America is literally built on a Ponzi scheme. This is how they fund their roads and bridges! No wonder they're falling apart. Their military collapsing is just a consequence of the deep accounting fraud at the heart of their everything.

As Marohn details in one simple case study:

Rural Road

A small, rural road is paved, with the costs of the surfacing project split evenly between the property owners and the city. We asked a simple question: Based on the taxes being paid by the property owners along this road, how long will it take the city to recoup its 50% contribution. The answer: 37 years. Of course, the road is only expected to last 20 to 25 years. Who pays the difference?

The generalizable point here is that the federal government gives (basically just creates) money to pay for some infrastructure, but then the state (or town) is liable for the maintenance. But the state doesn't actually have the tax base to pay for it (as Marohn shows in multiple case studies). That money was just created out of nowhere by the federal government. And so the state cannot actually pay for the maintenance, unless they get more cashflow from the federal spigot, for a new project. Then they can use a bit of that fresh cash to do some half-assed maintenance. It's a fugazi, a fugazy, a whatsy, a whoosy. As Matthew McConaughey says in Wolf Of Wall Street:

You have a client who bought stock at 8 and later announced it's at 16 and he's all happy he wants to cash in, liquidate, take his book, take his money and run home. You don't let him do that, okay, 'cause that would make it real, right? No. What do you do? You get another brilliant idea, a special idea, another situation, another stock to reinvest his earnings and entice him, and he will, every single time, 'cause they're addicted. You just keep doing this again and again and again. Meanwhile, he thinks he's getting rich (which he is, on paper), but you and me, the brokers, we're taking home cold hard cash via commission.

And then McConaughey makes a humping motion. Which is what's happening. Wolf Of Wall Street is quite an allegory. It's not that Ponzi schemes are some aberrations within the American economy. The entire American economy is a Ponzi. Especially their war machine. That's the most pernicious Ponzi in human history. A pungent combination of fraud and blood money.

The Grotesque Ponzi

The American war Ponzi is the perverse inverse of their domestic one. At home, they defraud money by at least building infrastructure. Abroad, they make money by destroying it.

This is the great innovation of American Empire. Figuring out that there's more money in losing wars than winning them. Only America attacks other places to loot their own treasury. They spent an absolutely soulless $2.3 trillion destroying Afghanistan and didn't 'get' anything much in return. So what do you do when you're running a Ponzi and one scheme goes belly up? You have to get the sucker into a new con, quickly. As that Wolf Of Wall Street said:

You get another brilliant idea, a special idea, another situation, another stock to reinvest his earnings and entice him, and he will, every single time, 'cause they're addicted.

To cover up the loss of Afghanistan America invaded Iraq. When that went screwy they invaded Libya, then Syria. That wasn't enough so they went even bigger, provoking Russia by corrupting Ukraine. The Ponzi Empire leaves a trail of destruction wherever they go, but the jig is only up if they stop. So they never stop. This is a big reason America keeps starting war after war after war. They've got to keep the scam going. As Marohn says, “like any Ponzi scheme, as soon as the rate of growth slows, it all goes bad very quickly.” Which is the point we're getting to now. America is pushing up against countries like China, Russia, and Iran that it cannot actually intimidate like the innocent civilians and weddings it's used to bombing from afar. We have finally reached the end of this fatal Ponzi. The scams are getting closer and closer together and running into each other. People are beginning to see, and soon they'll start withdrawing their money.

The American Military (Is Too) Complex

The American military is obviously not good anymore. It's definitely big, and it's definitely expensive, but these are both liabilities, not assets. America has a bunch of aging matériel and a bunch of men who are too unhealthy, unwilling, and simply not required to serve. Crumbling military infrastructure is just an offshoot of America's long experiment in short-term thinking. Just as Boeing is crashing because they tried to cannibalize a 1960s airframe down to the bone, America is crashing for the same reason.

Just as Boeing is still flying the 737 airframe some 60 years later, the American military is still flying B52s and 1960s era designs. Those are the designs that work best, in fact. The old technology still worked into the early 2000s, but it's already been depreciated and yet they're still using it. The American military is simply getting old and dying and should retire and stop embarrassing itself.

America is now facing younger 'threats' like China and Russia and Iran just as America's military is getting old and falling apart. In truth, none of those countries are a threat, they'd all be happy to trade. But America chose violence and so here we are. America was really strong once, but any living being is stronger when they're younger. Eventually your body becomes a liability and drags you down. In fact, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

All beings are young and strong for a while, old and powerful, and then aged and falling apart. It's important to understand that every being—artificial or natural—must eventually peace out. This is just the way of things. This is simply what's happened to the US military. We all return to Allah, human and genie, humanity and engineering.

We'll go through the decay of the American military limb by limb, but that's the general principle. America is falling apart because it's old and didn't take care of itself. You know how it goes. This is really the nature of existence, and you can feel it in your own bones.

Are you still here? Here's Part Two: How America's Military Is Falling Apart. This goes into more detail about how, precisely, they're fucked.