Here’s another way to think about Chávez, from a “father’s” perspective: I love my children. So if I were to find out that I had a terminal illness, I would ensure that they were taken care of. I’d make sure I had a guardian appointed, some funds set aside for college, etc. In other words, I’d plan for a future for them without me and prepare an orderly transition that would minimize their anxiety. By all accounts, Chávez did none of that. So, tell me again how much he loved the Venezuelan people?
(I was prompted to think about this after a former student of mine reminded me of the book Father of the poor? about the mid-20th century Brazilian populist, Gêtulio Vargas. I regularly assign the book in my Populism in Latin American seminar.)
Fellow Tumblrer Politicalprof has a great nugget on the costs (and relatively uselessness) of the F-22 fighter and its relation to budget debates in DC.
But here’s an interesting (comparative) comment about one of the key arguments Politicalprof makes about how modern military needs (i.e. fighting the Taliban) are different from conventional military needs of the past (i.e. fighting the Soviets) and our need to address those, rather than just buy fancy hardware. He suggests replying to anyone who argues against cutting defense spending with the mantra “F-22.”
I’ve got a better one: “Super Tucano.”
Why? Because the Super Tucano is precisely the kind of military hardware the US needs for its current (and hear future) tactical operations. It’s a prop-based airplane manufactured by Embraer, the Brazilian air manufacturing giant (you’ve probably flown on their planes if you flew domestically in the US. The plane (which kind of looks like a modern P-51 Mustang, of WWII fame) is specifically designed as a counter-insurgency, close air support, and reconnaissance aircraft. Brazil designed them for use in the dense Amazon regions to fight drug smuggling along its borders with Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia.
Surely the US doesn’t need a prop-base airplane in the 21st century, you laugh. Well, I think the Pentagon does. What makes me so confident? The US agreed to purchase 200 of them in 2010. Each one costs about $9-14 million. That’s less than four percent the cost of a single F-22. And there’s already excitement about deploying them to Afghanistan (where not a single F-22 ever flew a mission).
But not so fast. The Super Tucano deal was suspended after a suit by American aircraft manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft (with help from some friends in Congress). At some point, our military will finally be able to deploy something like the Super Tucano to Afghanistan. But not until the legal issues are sorted out. Because nothing says “I support our troops and their mission” like delaying an existing, useful piece of military hardware to ensure your constituents get to sell them to the military.
So, yeah. Next time someone tells you we need to keep military spending high to ensure the effectiveness of our troops, just tell them: “Super Tucano.”