Home / The horse isn’t dead yet, which is why I continue to flog it

The horse isn’t dead yet, which is why I continue to flog it

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Somehow, I’d forgotten about this one:

Stevens, like a generation of Alaskan politicians before him, has regularly used Alaska’s marginal strategic importance as a cover for political nest-feathering–which explains part of why a quarter of the $7.6 billion Alaska received from the federal government in 2002 alone went to defense spending. In 1986, the hawkish senator called in a favor from then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and had an Army division originally intended for fighting guerrillas in the tropics moved to Alaska instead. “Once they decided to satisfy Stevens, they invented a rationale and said that the Russians are coming to threaten the Aleutians,” a Defense Department official groused to a reporter at the time.

Of course, Alaska has always been a major artery for military aid; indeed, it owes its very statehood — a half-century of which we’ll be acknowledging next year — to the Cold War, which obviously rendered the place immediately useful. But to my knowledge — and I’ll have to look into this more when I get a chance — no state political leader has ever tried to score national foreign policy credentials based on the existence of US military facilities in Alaska, much less on the state’s proximity to the Soviet Union/Russia. Because, you know, it’s a transparently stupid idea. I’d be a lot more impressed if the McCain campaign would tell us how the President of Alaska has shielded us from the much more ominous Svalbardian peril.

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