Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Military Industrial Complex, Fact or Fiction

When American was attacked by Japan at Pearl Harbour in December 1941 the US declared "Total War" on the axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan. This meant that America was to turn its entire economy onto a war footing. Every industry would be maximised for the war effort. Many people believe that after the war ended, America was unable to step down from this war economy and that the internal pressure from the military industrial complex became too great.

Many people of a left wing persuasion believe that this military industrial complex continued to dominate the US economy throughout the cold war justifying phenomenal military spending and that this facilitated and even encouraged the Korean and Vietnam wars. These same people believe that this intertwined relationship between the military and the industry is also responsible for the 21st centuries greatest messes most notably the war in Iraq. However as we will now see it was not a radical student at Berkeley that first came up with this theory. It was in fact one of the greatest heroes in American history, none other than General Dwight Eisenhower. Watch below a clip from his Presidential farewell address where he warns America about the internal dangers posed by the military industrial complex. Truly fascinating.

The fact that General Eisenhower, WW2 supreme allied commander, liberator of Europe and President of the United States (1953-61) believes strongly in this theory lends it real credibility. But how real is it ? I have a background in International Relations so personally I tend to believe that it is national interest that determines foreign policy as opposed to any other special interest. For example I never believed that the war in Iraq was a war for oil or a corporate driven war. I was critical of it on a different level. However one cannot deny the GUBU amount of money that has been spent on it. Many many people have become wealthy beyond imagination as a direct result of this war. Not only due to the armaments industry and reconstruction contracts but the post invasion Coalition Provisional Authority headed up by Paul Bremer initiated a policy of replacing all the old sterile state companies with new privately owned corporations leading to massive opportunity for American investors. Might all these powerful interests have actually contributed to the White Houses decision to go to war. Its a scary thought. General Eisenhower believed it was possible. Who am I to argue with him ?

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