Curbing the Military-Industrial Complex

W.J. Astore

The American people have failed Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Sixty years ago, President Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex. He told us it was sapping our resources and livelihood. He said its total influence — economic, political, and spiritual — was warping the very structure of our society. Its growing power, Ike warned, posed a grave danger to our liberties and our democratic processes. We heard his words, but we failed to act on them.

Ike didn’t just issue a warning in his farewell address in 1961. He gave us a mission. He literally put us on guard duty, as he said we must guard against the growing power of the Complex. He challenged us to be an alert and knowledgeable citizenry. Notice those three words: alert, knowledgeable, citizenry. Ike told us to get smart, to be vigilant, to be fully informed and involved citizens. Not citizen-soldiers for war, but citizen-guards against the growing power of the U.S. military and its weapons makers within a democracy that was increasingly compromised by militarism and imperialism.

Collectively, we have failed to heed Ike’s warning. We have failed to curb the military-industrial complex. And thus it has become a leviathan within our society and our culture. It has, as Ike warned, come to dominate our economics, our politics, even our spiritual lives.

Ike had a different vision. He knew war and hated it. So he asked Americans to work for world peace and for human betterment. Yes, of course he was worried about communism in the climate of the Cold War. Of course he was in favor of negotiating from a position of strength. But Ike was in favor of the kind of strength that feels free and confident to extend the open hand of friendship rather than the mailed fist of war.

The latest Pentagon budget is all about the mailed fist of war. It undermines world peace and human betterment. It is a betrayal of Ike’s vision and a failure of democracy.

The American Republic is dead. The American Empire, consumed by militarism and powered by threat inflation and greed, is visibly in decline even as it consumes the lion’s share of federal discretionary spending. What is needed is a spiritual rebirth of America, a turning away from greed-war, a collective reawakening to the idea that strength is not measured by nuclear missiles or tanks or fighter jets, but by the health of our society, especially our commitment to human rights, to maximizing our human potential while protecting our environment and our planet.

America desperately needs a new vision of the good life, one that abjures war and rejects weaponry. War and weaponry are not the health of society; quite the opposite. Ike saw this; he challenged us to see it as well, and to act to ensure our democracy wouldn’t be destroyed by a permanent military establishment of vast proportions.

And we the people have failed him — and ourselves.

What is to be done? We need to reject fear. We need to cut military spending. We need to dismantle the empire. And we need to see these acts for what they are: the acts of a strong people, confident that right makes might, committed to avoiding the utter waste of war and the depravity of building an economy based on weapons production and arms exports.

Nobody said it would be easy. Ike knew it wouldn’t be. It’s why he put us on guard duty. He told us to be alert, to get smart, and to act.

Ike gave us a mission, not just a warning. Are you ready to enlist and fight against weapons and war?

38 thoughts on “Curbing the Military-Industrial Complex

  1. Right on the mark WJA! No one could have made it clearer than Ike (and you). But how to do it? How is it that the ”good” and ”right” ways are submerged in today’s information clearinghouse culture by the wrong, ultimately self-destructive ideas?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. How indeed! A quote from Sarah Connor (Terminator) comes to mind: No fate but what we make.

      We aren’t fated to spend trillions on weapons and wars. It’s a choice “we” make as a country. And it’s a choice we can reverse if we have sufficient will to do so.

      It’s that simple — and that difficult.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I just read a short debate as to whether a sound education makes a difference when it comes to the type of choice you describe here, Bill. Although I was surprised to find that a “yes” answer wasn’t seen as self-evident, I remain convinced that our only hope is to improve our children’s learning.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes. We need humanistic learning. But what we get instead is rote testing and talk of STEM and vocational training. Or lots of controversy about race, identity politics, gender pronouns, etc.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. As STEM learning in the U.S. is pathetically behind that of many other developed nations, I’d be happy to see more emphasis there. But as we’ve discussed before in your forum, Bill, it’s the critical thinking and analysis capabilities, along with teaching in civics and government, that are most sorely lacking.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Americans can’t even see the ironic conundrum the US is in ignoring Eisenhower’s wise Council.

    The more money spent on the Weapons of Death and Destruction, including on the A-bom-i-nation of Desolation for US National Security, all the Evidence establishes Americans are more Insecure than ever before, except for the high paying jobs in the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is an important related issue, William.

      The hounding of Julian Assange leaves honest journalism with no refuge
      The message sent to journalists could not be clearer or more chilling: what happened to Assange could happen to you too

      It is no accident that Julian Assange, the digital transparency activist and journalist who founded Wikileaks to help whistleblowers tell us what western governments are really up to in the shadows, has spent 10 years being progressively disappeared into those very same shadows.

      His treatment is a crime similar to those Wikileaks exposed when it published just over a decade ago hundreds of thousands of leaked materials – documents we were never supposed to see – detailing war crimes committed by the United States and Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      These two western countries killed non-combatants and carried our torture not, as they claimed, in the pursuit of self-defence or in the promotion of democracy, but to impose control over a strategic, resource-rich region.

      It is the ultimate, ugly paradox that Assange’s legal and physical fate rests in the hands of two states that have the most to lose by allowing him to regain his freedom and publish more of the truths they want to keep concealed. By redefining his journalism as “espionage” – the basis for the US extradition claim – they are determined to keep the genie stuffed in the bottle……………

      https://www.jonathan-cook.net/2021-12-17/hounding-julian-assange-journalism/

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Slowly but surely, more Voices are taking up the Cause! Let’s hope it becomes a crescendo before it’s too late.
    Millions all over the World protested the 2003 Iraq War but the decision makers ignored them.

    Chris Hedges: The Spoils of War – Power, Profit and the American War Machine
    Chris Hedges discusses with Andrew Cockburn his new book, The Spoils of War – Power, Profit and the American War Machine.

    Cockburn’s book lays bare the naked lust for profit that is behind America’s endless wars and bloated military budget. The American war machine, he writes, can only be understood in terms of the “private passions” and “interests” of those who control it – principally, a passionate interest in making money.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cockburn’s not wrong about the malignant virus that is the military-industrial complex. There’s so much money to be made in the name of “security” and “defense.” I should have bought “defense” stocks …

      Liked by 1 person

        1. True. They are also deeply afraid of being accused of being “weak” on defense, especially if they’re Democrats.

          Mister, we could use a man like George McGovern again.

          Like

  4. In this article I am going to write about something that the vast majority of the U.S. population couldn’t care less about. Sadly, most Americans simply do not care about Ukraine, Russia’s military preparations for war, or pretty much anything else that is happening on the other side of the globe. But over in Russia, things are completely different. There is constant talk about the potential for war with the west, and there is a lot of pessimism that it will be able to be avoided.

    To the Russians, this really is the biggest crisis with the west since the Cuban missile crisis of the 1960s. The Russians have repeatedly warned that western missiles must not be stationed in Ukraine, and they have repeatedly warned that Ukraine must not become a member of NATO.

    They are using the same rationale that we used during the Cuban missile crisis. We didn’t want the Russians to have missiles in Cuba that could potentially hit our major cities within just a matter of a few minutes, and likewise the Russians don’t want missiles in Ukraine that could potentially hit their major cities within just a matter of a few minutes.

    The only way that Vladimir Putin will ever authorize an invasion of Ukraine is if one of his strategic “red lines” is crossed.

    But instead of easing tensions and trying to talk things out, western leaders just keep provoking Russia.

    https://www.investmentwatchblog.com/7-signs-that-war-with-russia-just-got-even-closer/

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In this World of Fake News, Misleading Propaganda and Disinformation, I have found Elijah J Magnier to be a credible source of information and analysis for the Middle Eastern debacle as the consequence of the illegal 2003 US invasion.
    The 1991 Gulf War was UN Security Council approved, unlike the denial of the Legal Authority the US sought, using Fake US Intelligence evidence Saddam was developing WMDs, to invade Iraq in 2003.

    Usually Elijah gives only an introductory sample of his latest reporting except for paying subscribers. Obviously, as the US beats the War Drums for War to inhibit China, he must think it’s important enough because the whole report is made Public without paying.

    ‘The US fears the Chinese model and its impact on Middle Eastern countries’
    Notwithstanding that China is a relatively “shy participant” in Middle Eastern policy, the US hegemony, which claims exclusivity among the most “obedient” Arab countries (those which fall into its strategic sphere of influence), is threatened by it. The worrying aspect for the US is that Beijing seeks to present a different model that integrates and takes advantage of the US’s failed military experiences in many wars and direct political interference attempts over the past decades.

    China hopes for a non-aggressive economic-political breakthrough in the Middle East through a less ferocious and less explicit model than the American one. China has robust chances to succeed due to the mounting awareness in that part of the world of the need for the Middle Eastern states to diversify their international relations and sources of military equipment and commerce. It reinforces the context of the Middle Eastern states’ efforts to reduce dependence on the US and the Western countries……….

    https://ejmagnier.com/2021/12/17/the-us-fears-the-chinese-model-and-its-impact-on-middle-eastern-countries/

    It’s up to Americans, not the Russian or Chinese, to rein in the US Power Elites appetite for WAR. Biden. like Trump, is just a front for the secret influences and controllers of US WAR Policy.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I tend to see American presidents and Canadian prime ministers as mostly symbolically ‘in charge’, beneath the most power-entrenched and saturated national/corporate interests and institutions. To me, our elected heads ‘lead’ a virtual corpocracy, i.e. “a society dominated by politically and economically large corporations”.

      Our (Canada’s) First Past The Post electoral system, which I find barely qualifies as democratic rule within the democracy spectrum, seems to well-serve corporate interests over those of the general populace. I believe it’s basically why those powerful interests generally resist attempts at changing from FPTP to proportional representation electoral systems of governance, the latter which dilutes lobbyist influence.

      From my understanding, when it comes to big-business friendly thus favored electoral systems, low-representation FPTP-elected governments, in which a relatively small portion of the country’s populace is actually electorally represented, are the easiest for lobbyists to manipulate or ‘buy’. A much more proportionately representative (PR) electoral system should create a greater challenge for the lobbyists. A PR-elected government, which much more proportionately represents the electorate as a whole, should be considerably harder for big business to steer — if at all, in some cases.

      The people should be democratically deciding, proportionately, who governs them and under what terms. Not some unseen, unacknowledged maximum-power/profit-motivated machine.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Though you may have already heard me say this before, I believe that before China might be successfully compelled by external forces to do anything it doesn’t really want to, those external forces must at least possess a consumer base thus trade import/export bargaining chip compatible with China’s nearly 1.5 billion consumers. Even then, China’s restrictive control over its own business sector thus market may actually give it an edge over corporation-manipulated Western-nation governments heavily lobbied by corporate interests salivating for access to the huge Chinese populace.

      Military threats from abroad likely wouldn’t intimidate Chinese officials; if anything, foreign sabre rattling would just make China more obstinate. The only other thing that might have an effect on them involves their economy, via the international marketplace. Maybe some securely allied nations, including Canada, combining their resources could go without the usual bully-Beijing trade/investment tether they’d prefer to sever, instead trading necessary goods and services between themselves and other interested non-allied, non-China-bound nation economies.

      Then, again, maybe such an alliance has already been covertly discussed but rejected due to Chinese government strategists knowing how to ‘divide and conquer’ potential alliance nations by using door-wedge economic/political leverage custom-made for each nation (‘wedge diplomacy’?). Perhaps every country typically placing its own economic and big business bottom-line interests foremost may always be its, and therefore collectively our, Achilles’ Heel to be exploited by huge-market nations like China.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. A beautiful essay on the MICC WJA!

    At first I thought I would not comment because it seemed like the same topic that has been discussed here several times this year and last; then I read it more closely and it is really a cry of despair regarding the dead or sleeping spirit of goodness and decency in the people of the U.S. It is also a call to action of that spirit of goodness and decency in all of us.
    The statement that got my attentions was “It has, as Ike warned, come to dominate our economics, our politics, even our spiritual lives.” The last part is what I picked up on. The spirit of the American people has been corrupted by war and violence. As it says it the Bible: “As ye sow, so shall ye reap. ” The American people have sowed violence and war and they are now reaping the consequences. The consequences are a corruption of their spirits such that violence has become the normal state of mind. We see this violence bubbling up to the surface of our society in the Jan 6 insurrection, police violence, the violence of the previous administration of not acting on the medical advice regarding Covid19 ( 800,000 Americans officially dead and that is under-estimated by about 20% ), and many other instances.

    What to do? I feel like this is part III of what I started in the previous topic. When the Roman empire was decaying people had several choices: Eat drink and forget about tomorrow, Leave, or Form communities of like minded people. Most Romans chose the first and died or sold themselves to the nearest Count for protection. Constantin and the smart money left Italy and founded the Byzantine Empire. The Christians chose the third alternative and eventually came to dominate Rome.

    So far there are no warlords with private armies like in Afghanistan in which to seek protection. The inner city gangs are somewhat like this. There is no place to go and found a new society. That leaves the third alternative. I am not sure that is even viable because the violence might overwhelm any decent and peaceful community. This is a puzzle that I am presently trying to solve. Should I leave for a country that is not engrossed in war, or stay here and try to associate with like minded people?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Interesting that you mention sowing and reaping, WJ. Off the top of my head, I can’t cite sources, but I’ve read perhaps half a dozen articles in the past few months discussing the idea that U.S. military aggression and methods overseas are boomeranging here. If there’s a generalized awakening or realization going on, that’s a hopeful sign.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Another scriptural quote that seems relevant “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” And I am certain that Jesus was not just talking about a physical demise but a far worse spiritual death.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, this is exactly what Martin Luther King Jr. warned us about: the spiritual death that comes with weaponry and war, as the U.S. becomes the world’s greatest purveyor of violence.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. How dare I challenge “Brainy Quote,” but I think this is how MLK put it:

          A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. “We need to reject fear. We need to cut military spending. We need to dismantle the empire.”

    The question is, how do we accomplish those things, and where do we get the needed new vision? Unless we can clone Greta Thunberg and a thousand of her kind, it’s looking bleak for our planet, let alone the U.S.

    More than one belief system teaches that, for the new to arise, the old must end. It looks to me as if that’s the way we (at the very least, we in the U.S.) are headed.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Western mainstream news-media are also a part of the problem. … Every culture/nation has its own propaganda and core beliefs, true and false; though some culture/nations — usually the biggest, most powerful — are much more corrupt and brutal than the smaller, weaker ones.

    I hear and read praise, or conservatives’ scorn, heaped upon The New York Times for their supposed uncompromised integrity when it comes to humanitarianism and ethical journalism. Yet, did they not help create the Iraq War, through then-U.S.-VP Dick Cheney’s self-citing via the Times’ website? That would be the same Cheney who monetarily benefitted from the war via Iraqi oil fields — a war I consider to have been much more like a turkey shoot, considering the massive military might attacking the relatively weak country.

    I recall reading that The Times had essentially claimed honest-ignorance innocence on the grounds that it was its blogger’s overzealousness that was/is at fault. But is it really plausible that The Times did/does not insist upon securing the non-publishable yet accurate identity of its writers’ anonymous information sources — in this case, a devious Cheney — especially considering that Cheney himself would then use that anonymous source’s (i.e. his own) total BS about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify a declaration of war that inevitably resulted in genuine gratuitous mass suffering and slaughter?

    I believe that The Times may have jumped on this particular atrocity-prone bandwagon, perhaps due to the massive 9/11 blow the city took only a few years prior. There was plenty of that particularly bitter bandwagon going around in Western circles back then. Quite memorable was New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman’s appearance on Charlie Rose’s show (May 29, 2003), where he ranted about the war’s justification and supposed success. “… We needed to go to that part of the world; and what they needed to see [was that] American boys and girls going house to house, from Basrah to Baghdad, [and] simply saying, ‘suck on this’.”

    It’s as though they all decided: ‘Just to be on the safe side, let’s error in favor of militarily assaulting, invading and devastating Iraq’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They’d rather be perceived as strong, even when wrong, than take a chance of being truly strong and then being accused of being weak because they’re against war and the profits war generates.

      And then there are those who are simply part of the machinery of war, and proud of it. They’re not conflicted about conflict: they love war when it serves their agendas.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Your first sentence here raises a salient point, Bill, that ties in with other things you’ve said. It doesn’t take strength of character to adopt a facade of bravado and continue full speed down a path that has proven to be a failure. It does, however, take a good deal of moral fiber to call a halt, own up to a massive mistake, and reverse course. Therefore, what today’s military leaders do is keep up the all-powerful act until they can slip through the revolving door and never have to face their mistakes. Or at least, that’s what it looks like to this non-military observer. The lack of accountability is what allows the “defense” budget to continually escalate: failures are ignored, then buried by the newest, greatest weaponry or strategy.

        Like

        1. Of course, the system also selects and promotes the “true believers” and eliminates the critics. Most senior officers are promoted because they’ve jumped through the right hoops while never deviating from the script.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. I sometimes wonder whether the general human need for retributive justice can be intrinsically linked to the same terribly flawed aspect of humankind that enables the most horrible acts of violent cruelty to readily occur on this planet, perhaps not all of which we learn about.

        Like

        1. Maybe your wonder comes from this writing by the Prophet speaking for God?

          Say to them, As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: Repent, repent of your evil ways, for why should you die, O house of Israel!
          Ezekiel 33:11

          In the World they take great pleasure in the death of the wicked.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. “Sixty years ago, President Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex. He told us it was sapping our resources and livelihood. He said its total influence — economic, political, and spiritual — was warping the very structure of our society. Its growing power, Ike warned, posed a grave danger to our liberties and our democratic processes.”
    _______

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely, no doubt. …

    Although Ronald Reagan may have been correct in his observation that “Of the four wars in my lifetime none came about because the U.S. was too strong”, I have long wondered what may have historically come to fruition had the U.S. remained the sole possessor of atomic weaponry. There’s a presumptive, and perhaps even arrogant, concept of American governance as somehow, unless physically provoked, being morally/ethically above using nuclear weapons internationally.

    After President Harry S. Truman relieved General Douglas MacArthur as commander of the forces warring with North Korea — for the latter’s public remarks about how he would/could use dozens of atomic bombs to promptly end the war — Americans’ approval-rating of the president dropped to 23 percent. It is still a record-breaking low, even lower than the worst approval-rating points of the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson.

    I wonder: had it not been for the formidable international pressure on Truman (and perhaps his personal morality) to relieve MacArthur as commander, would/could Truman eventually have succumbed to domestic political pressure to allow MacArthur’s command to continue? We can never know for certain.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. This is an excerpt of what I have been posting in many sites these last 2 weeks, including many different items in The Washington Post.

        President Eisenhower enunciated 5 Principles that would guide his foreign Policy. These are 2 of them,
        3rd: Every nation’s right to a form of government and an economic system of its own choosing is inalienable.
        4th: Any nation’s attempt to dictate to other nations their form of government is indefensible.

        It’s still an awesome speech, but Ike abandoned Principles 3 & 4 just 4 months later, when he presided over the CIA Coup/regime change of the Democratically elected government of Iran.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. 🙂 Good point. I’m not saying Ike was guiltless; just that he was right about his own country and the insidious threat posed by the military-industrial complex.

        Like

  10. I don’t expect a reply, but I was moved to send this to Senator Manchin Tuesday. God knows the Message was sent.

    Senator Manchin,

    When I sent you the same Message I sent all 99 other US Senators November 5, 8, 15 &16, I did not sign up for your newsletter. I’m still getting them even though I went through all the steps to unsubscribe many times since then, the latest I got Today.

    I made it very clear in that November 5 Message I’m Canadian, so it’s pointless sending me generic information for the residents of your State. I wrote to ALL Senators as National and International Leaders, not as Representatives of Parochial interests.

    It is a wonder I’m still getting manually generated, generic replies to that Message signed by the Senator on their Senate letterhead, the latest from Senator Catherine Cortez Masto this morning.To Date not one Senator has replied, addressing the Substance in the November Message.

    The Kansas City Times, September 13, 1976,
    “He came to town for the Republican National Convention and will stay until the election in November TO DO GOD’S BIDDING: To tell the World, from Kansas City, this country has been found wanting and its days are numbered […] He gestured toward a gleaming church dome. “The gold dome is the symbol of BABYLON,” he said.” […] He wanted to bring to the Public’s attention an “idea being put out subtly and deceptively” by the government that we have to get prepared for a War with Russia.”

    That 1976 FUTURE is NOW with the Revelation of the details GENERALLY unfolding in the spirit of the letter. The World is waking up to see Americans may hasten “its days are numbered” part of the 1976 Vision, and waits with bated breath.

    With the benefit of 45 years hindsight, the last 8 years of intensified Military, FBI and Intelligence “experts” on TV constantly, unanimously, demonizing Putin and Russia, the People have been prepared.

    Few will recognize “this country has been found wanting and its days are numbered” as the 1st 2 parts of the 3 part Writing on the Wall from Daniel 5 in the Bible.
    People may not be aware of the source, but most People understand what’s implied using the adage, “The writing’s on the Wall!”

    Senator Manchin, watching from CanaDa, I find it incomprehensible how you can be against a Child Tax Credit, but Vote yes on a $778 BILLION NDAA budget for next year, never mind over 10 years, without personally having read the thousands of pages in the Bill?

    The Kansas City Times did a followup on ALL SOULS DAY, November 2, 1976 publishing this Historical Newspaper record:

    You might be able to understand my Surprise and Wonder when the TV movie, ‘THE DAY AFTER’ Kansas City was incinerated in a Nuclear Holocaust was shown 7 years to the month later, on November 20, 1983. Most probably, I was the only person on Earth watching it that night to NOTE, at THE END, the movie pauses at the same picture frame The Kansas City Times published on ALL SOULS DAY, 1976, the PROOF being this TV screenshot:

    You can accept those Historical records as Signs of the Times this World is in Today, or you can dismiss them as being of no consequence, your free choice!
    Obviously I had nothing to do with those Historical FACTS come into being other than being a Messenger.

    Bty, I sent this informational addendum to the November Message to only 1 other Senator.

    Peace
    RayJC
    Ottawa-Hull, CanaDa

    Like

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