Monday, July 28, 2008

The Military-Industrial Complex: It's Much Later Than You Think

by Chalmers Johnson,, July 27, 2008

Most Americans have a rough idea what the term "military-industrialcomplex" means when they come across it in a newspaper or hear apolitician mention it. President Dwight D. Eisenhower introduced theidea to the public in his farewell addressof January 17, 1961. "Our military organization today bears littlerelation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime," hesaid, "or indeed by the fighting men of World War II and Korea We havebeen compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vastproportions We must not fail to comprehend its grave implications Wemust guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whethersought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex."

Although Eisenhower's reference to the military-industrial complexis, by now, well-known, his warning against its "unwarranted influence"has, I believe, largely been ignored. Since 1961, there has been toolittle serious study of, or discussion of, the origins of themilitary-industrial complex, how it has changed over time, howgovernmental secrecy has hidden it from oversight by members ofCongress or attentive citizens, and how it degrades our Constitutionalstructure of checks and balances.

From its origins in the early 1940s, when President Franklin DelanoRoosevelt was building up his "arsenal of democracy," down to thepresent moment, public opinion has usually assumed that it involvedmore or less equitable relations -- often termed a "partnership" --between the high command and civilian overlords of the United Statesmilitary and privately-owned, for-profit manufacturing and serviceenterprises. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that, from thetime they first emerged, these relations were never equitable. >>Read More

Chalmers Johnson is the author of three linked books on the crises of American imperialism and militarism. They are Blowback (2000), The Sorrows of Empire (2004), and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (2006). All are available in paperback from Metropolitan Books.

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