Stop Exporting Violence, America


W.J. Astore

The USA is a violent land.  And perhaps that might be OK, if we limited the violence to us. But we’ve become the world’s leading exporter of deadly weaponry, a fact I was reminded of this morning as I read William Hartung’s latest article on the military-industrial complex at In detailing the ever-growing power of the Complex, Hartung had this telling sentence:

When pressed, Raytheon officials argue that, in enabling mass slaughter, they are simply following U.S. government policy.

Tragic as that statement is, it’s also true.  As I’ve written about before, weapons ‘r’ us.  Our so-called peacetime economy is geared to war, homeland security, surveillance, and other forms of violent and coercive technologies and products.  Even as America seeks to prevent other countries from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (WMD), we’re actively seeking to sell WMD to others, as long as those weapons are Made in the USA and go to “allies” that pay promptly, like the Saudis.

Being the world’s leading purveyor of violence can only lead to America’s spiritual death, as Martin Luther King Jr. argued so eloquently a half-century ago.  As MLK’s words show, this tragic reality is nothing new in America.  As Senator J. William Fulbright noted in 1970, the U.S. emerged after World War II to become “the world’s major salesman of armaments.”  Fulbright went further and quoted Marine Corps General David M. Shoup, a Medal of Honor recipient, and Shoup’s conclusion that “America has become a militaristic and aggressive nation.”  Remember, this was fifty years ago, when the U.S. at least faced a real threat from Communism, no matter how much we inflated it.  We face no equivalent threat today, no matter how much the Pentagon hyperventilates about China and Russia.

Returning to Hartung’s article, I like his title: “Eisenhower’s Worst Nightmare.”  Indeed it is, in the sense that the military-industrial complex is, ultimately, an American complex.  Which makes me think of another Eisenhower sentiment: that only Americans can truly hurt America.  That our biggest enemy is within our borders: our own violence, aggression, fear, and hatred, especially of others.

Ike was right about the Complex, and he was right about how America would truly be hurt and defeated.  The enemy is not from without.  No walls will keep him out.  No — the enemy is within.  And it won’t — indeed, it can’t — be defeated by weapons and violence.  Indeed, more weapons and violence only make it stronger.

Be an indispensable nation, America.  Be exceptional.  Be great.  As Melania Trump might say, Be Best.  How?  Stop exporting violence.  And stop the hurt within.

6 thoughts on “Stop Exporting Violence, America

  1. Hear, hear sir! Setting the example as a novel if imperfectly designed experiment in citizen government long ago succumbed to the short-term lust for the Mighty Dollar. The science and the weapons are not amoral – they imply use. Sophistication, convenience of use, and the trend towards the widespread if individually smallish and secretive-ish footprint abets use. Once the autonomous systems proliferate, tracing to accountability will approach nil.


  2. Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

    This 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.

    September 4, 2011

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hartung’s article in TomDispatch cites Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire identifying the problem accurately 50 years ago when he noted:

      “the movement of high ranking military officers into jobs with defense contractors and the reverse movement of top executives in major defense contractors into high Pentagon jobs is solid evidence of the military-industrial complex in operation.
      It is a real threat to the public interest because it increases the chances of abuse… How hard a bargain will officers involved in procurement planning or specifications drive when they are one or two years away from retirement and have the example to look at of over 2,000 fellow officers doing well on the outside after retirement?”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. From Michael Parenti’s Against Empire (1995 ):

    “In 1907, Woodrow Wilson recognized the support role played by the capitalist state on behalf of private capital:

    Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused.

    Later, as president of the United States, Wilson noted that the United States was involved in a struggle to ‘command the economic fortunes of the world.'”

    Updated and expressed somewhat differently:

    Poverty Draft

    Racketeers for corporations,
    Thug enforcers for the banks,
    Told that they defend their nations,
    Paid with, “For your service, thanks.”

    Global oligarchs give orders.
    “Governments” then fall in line.
    Capital observes no borders:
    “Everything I want is mine.”

    Single customer provided.
    No-bid profits guaranteed.
    Back home keep the proles divided.
    On each other, let them feed.

    Jay Gould said that he could hire
    One half of the working class,
    Then tell them to aim and fire
    At the other half’s bare ass.

    They would do it, too, no question,
    Soldiers, cops, and prison guards.
    Set off by a mere suggestion,
    Money sends its least regards.

    Mercenaries, contract killers,
    Merchants of their own demise
    Answered ads for “graveyard fillers”
    Makes no difference just who dies.

    Uniformed or not, still suited:
    Smedly Butler, Al Capone.
    Continents and districts looted.
    Most will pay while few will own.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2019


  4. Now isn’t that strange. I wrote an essay about comparisons of 737’s & F-35’s. In short, you lucky winners, to save your eyes! I made comparisons as US is losing the technological battle due to obscene profits wanted by the 1%ers. I personally think 737 MAX is an expensive dud, maybe never to fly again. As for F-35, another dud, but Congress will financially bale them out of their mistakes. Won’t make it fly of course, but the countries that bought it will start to complain. I also brought up our crumbling infrastructure. Who wants to invest in potholes & derailed trains? It hurts profits! We have plenty of able bodied people to correct that, but overseas wars only kills or maims them. We need new thinking, and if Boeing’s disaster is anywhere near where I personally think it is, the 1%ers will have to sell their yacht, which was alot safer than the catastrophe they designed to increase profits.

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