The Military Industrial Complex
52 years ago this week, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned America of the dangers presented by the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). He said:
[The} conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
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 was President Eisenhower’s farewell speech. He warned of the potential “misplaced power” that could result due to the expanding partnership of our military and business leaders. This was spoken by a Republican president and a decorated military leader.
Today, the revolving door that exists between our military, government and the defense industry represents the “meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery” threat that Ike addressed. In addition, the massive campaign funding currently provided by the defense industry reflects the “acquisition of unwarranted influence” that he warned us about.
Over a half century later - what have we learned?
Update – January 17, 2013
First, Bill noted that the original version of Ike’s speech warned of the impending dangers of the “Congressional Military Industrial Complex.” The word “Congressional” was subsequently dropped in Ike’s January 1962 farewell address. I think we’d all agree, however, that the original wording more accurately describes the organization that has taken over our political processes.
Second, Abrawang correctly noted that there was considerable public debate on the MIC issue in the years following Ike’s speech, but that it has since become a non-issue even though the entity that Ike warned us about grew to be more menacing, more anti-democratic and more controlling than what Ike envisioned. The MIC, according to Abrawang, is now “mostly treated as just part of the landscape.”
He’s right. Today, when the contemporary CMIP (Congressional Military Industrial Complex) recognizes a potential public policy that may threaten their power and profits, they feel that they now have the ability to shut it down, no matter how vocal and popular the opposition may be.
Unfortunately, these are the same people who are behind the climate change denial organizations of today. As with the anti-MIC concerns which were expressed by a majority of the population a half century ago, the threat of climate change has rightfully risen to a very high level of public concern today. The CMIP feels that, though they represent a small minority, they have money, political control and time on their side. Through their Orwellian control, they expect the public to eventually treat climate change as “just part of the landscape” in the very near future.
They won the MIC debate. We can’t let them win on Climate Change!
Update II – January 21, 2013
It was very encouraging to hear President Obama say the following statement about climate change in his 2nd Inaugural Address:
“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”