Monday Thoughts – Beware the Military Industrial Complex


Over the weekend tensions with Iran have heated up following the G-20 talks in Pittsburgh. Here is an article overview of the current situation:

Article- Bloomberg

Interestingly, we are again facing an issue that Dwight David Eisenhower, one of our most famous generals, warned us about – the power of the “Military Industrial Complex.”

Read the text of Eisenhower’s speech here

Americans were getting tired of our overseas military exploits in Afghanistan and Iraq, which is one of the main issues that gave President Obama his edge over Senator McCain – remember, McCain wanted more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and the fact the Obama was not so committal of more troops in his view of the conflicts during the presidential campaign (he favored ending the war in Iraq), made him more appealing to many independents who were “one-issue” voters on this particular topic and wanted out of the war (I’m no expert on polling but my anecdotal experience would give Obama 3-5% of the vote purely on this issue).

Now that the general in charge of Afghanistan (McChrystal) has called for more troops, the President is likely to accede to his wishes. Of course he needs political cover, so what does he do? He adopts a hard line on Iran, and their possession of a nuclear facility, which I am sure he will parlay into more support (and a handy excuse) for increased military presence in the Middle East. There are many who also don’t want to “waste” what we’ve accomplished over there, as we continue to lose more soldiers (see this story about a US Marine who gave his life to save his unit – it also discusses his father and his involvement in a group that supports what the soldiers are doing over there). And certainly, after Vietnam, any thought of “losing” again is out of the question for many Americans – so this is a difficult debate.

The bottom line though is, we are there in the first place because there exists in our country many forces who prefer us to use our military proactively – politicians who have interventionalist/proactive stances on issues, generals who’d love to test strategies and capabilities who may also share a proactive stance on foreign policy, corporations who profit from all the equipment and devices they sell, private contractors that get business from the foreign country involved, and businesses who move in first to new markets opened by our military presence.

Eisenhower warned us of their power exhorting:

“In the councils of government, 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. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. 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, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

This danger exists and we must be vigilant against abuses against the will of the people. It appears that the President perhaps only played lip service to ending the military efforts in the Middle East – yes we will take troops out of Iraq but put them in Afghanistan and who knows where else – and therefore, we will see in due time if he truly is a “liar” as he was accused of being (in a crude way) in his address to the joint session of Congress a few weeks ago. Even though I’m sure a masterful speaker such as he could craft a change in his position on military presence as not a change at all (let’s see how this shakes out).

Keep your eyes open and remember, some politicians count on your ignorance to keep them in office.

Chris Grande