In 1960, outgoing President Dwight Eisenhower made a speech where he made the famous warning of the growth of the military-industrial complex. His point being, don’t let the tail wag the dog. His fear, which has now been proven a zillion times over, is the Department of Defense is in business to keep suppliers and contractors in business.
I believe Ike knew exactly what he was talking about. He came into office as a successful General in the Army, having led the U.S. to impressive victories in Europe in The Big One, you World War Two! Having brokered a military backed settlement in Korea, the U.S. was moving ahead in the world in 1952 in a peace. There was the possibly imagined at the most and greatly exaggerated at the least Cold War, causing fears in the U.S. of us being invaded by the Red Hordes from the Soviet Union or Yellow Hordes from Maoist Red China. Based on these fears, the industrial segment of the U.S. economy needed more business to sustain its wartime production levels. Thus, the “manufactured demand” for weaponry. I’m sure Ike saw this happening right under him, particularly in his second term. His timing for making the military-industrial complex was fascinating. At the end of his final term as President. The fears were plenty well stoked in the ’50’s, what with Joseph McCarthy’s and others “witch hunts” looking for imbedded communists in this country. The defense supply industry was booming again! Or…was Ike concerned about the growing conflict in Southeast Asia? He supplied weaponry and advisors to the corrupt South Vietnam government. Perhaps, after seeing how badly France had failed in the region, he thought it wise to advise about the private sector pumping up the Pentagon for additional arms and supplies. Was our Vietnam incursion a result of private contractors pushing the effort?
In 1961, the Kennedy administration was sworn in with Ike’s threat fresh in their minds. Interesting point, Robert McNamara was Kennedy’s choice as Secretary of Defense. McNamara previously was the President and/or CEO of Nash-Rambler/American Motors, a leading contractor for DOD contracts, tanks, equipment, personnel movers, etc. Was this a political move by Kennedy to deliberately shun Ike’s famous warning? Maybe, looks suspicious!
Under Kennedy and then Johnson, Vietnam blew up to a major military involvement, ultimately with over one million troops on the ground at once, and hundreds of billions of dollars spent. The contractors and suppliers were delighted, rolling in the dough! After blowing the billions of dollars, almost 50,000 American casualties, maimed and injured U.S. troops in the hundreds of thousands, and God only knows how many innocent lives in Southeast Asia were lost.
In the 1970’s, after our escape from Vietnam, the military suppliers kept up the pressure for business from the Pentagon. That was the era of Senator Bill Proxmire’s Golden Fleece Award. He awarded this prize monthly to the DOD supplier caught bilking the U.S. for the most money. This was the time of the $400.00 hammers and toilet seats.
The 1980’s brought the attempt by Boeing, Lockheed et al working Reagan over for the ill-thought “Star Wars” defense system. I think this was an attempt by the private sector to sway public policy for their own financial gain. fortunately, it was shot down.
George Herbert Walker Bush took the U.S. into war in the invasion of Iraq. The next war effort without the necessary by the Constitution, declaration of war by Congress. Haliburton, among others’ cashed in on this military effort. Though this was a relatively short affair, several entities profited nicely. Was this the beginning of the no-compete contracts awarded to friends of the Pentagon?
Another period of the world at relative peace occurred while Bill Clinton was President. We did have the short incursion into Bosnia, and I’m sure to the delight of military contractors.
In 2001, George Bush, made up a bunch of lies to get the U.S. to invade the sovereign and non-threatening state of Iraq. Coincidentally, the main war-hawk in the administration was Vice President Dick Cheeney. Just prior to taking office, Cheeney was CEO of Haliburton Industries. Are you starting to smell a rat yet? Until January of 2009, Haliburton pretty much managed the military efforts in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This was done for a price, a very big price, into the trillions of dollars. Does anybody else find it peculiar that most of Haliburton’s contracts were offered without competing RFP’s posted? As an aside, Haliburton gave Cheeney a 30 million dollar parting gift when he resigned to become Vice President. Anything registering yet?
Now the U.S. is out of Iraq except advisors and security personnel and will be out of Afghanistan within 2 years, how will the military-industrial complex survive? Simple. Since the activist U.S. Supreme Court made the Citizen United ruling, now corporations can make unlimited contributions to campaigns and super-pacs. A different avenue granted, but very user-friendly by the private Corporate America.
Eisenhower was right, and despite all of the negative results of the control the military-complex has, nobody listened. Ike was very smart, today’s politicians are really stupid, have no convictions and march to the beat of the “owners”.
Another great Republican of America’s recent history, Senator Barry Goldwater(R-AZ), made a speech warning of the danger of the religious right hijacking the GOP. You see, Senator Goldwater understood the Constitution with respect to the separation of church and state. Goldwater rejected any influence of any religion on the American political and government systems. As an aside, to tell you how ahead of his time he was, he said the only “straight” in the military was the need for troops who could shoot straight!
Goldwater was also the consummate politician. He knew the importance and the art of negotiation and compromise. He understood compromise is a very necessary part of running the messy business of democracy. The religious right feels the complete opposite. The word compromise is not in their lexicon. We now have a minority of the majority in the House, the Tea-Baggers, who will not bend on a single issue. They have so bullied the Speaker into submission, that Congress is in such permanent grid-lock, that the approval rating of Congress is at 9%…the lowest in history! Senator Goldwater predicted this many years ago, and nobody in the power structure of the GOP bothered to get his message.
As the GOP will certainly go into free-fall and implode on itself, it only has to wonder…what if the party had heeded the wise words of their predecessors. It’s too bad that the era of open discussion, negotiation, compromise, and decency is gone. Meanness, politics of personal destruction, lying, playing games with the truth, sleaziness, racism, bigotry, fear mongering, have become the norm.
It’s hard to believe but, there is no longer a Republican party. It was hijacked by the religious zealots on the right, Wall Street, K Street, Corporate America, Big Finance, Big Insurance, and Big Energy. In case you’re wondering, the Democrats are in the pockets with all of the same culprits as well. It’s the system and Ike warned us all about it! Thanks for today’s read and I look forward to your comments.