Since Ike’s warning more than 60 years ago, the MIC has only grown stronger and more anti-democratic
President Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) had it right. The military-industrial complex (MIC) is fundamentally anti-democratic. The national security state has become the fourth branch of government and arguably the most powerful one. It gets the most money, more than half of the federal discretionary budget, even as the military remains America’s most trusted institution, despite a woeful record in wars since 1945.
A colleague, Christian Sorensen, says that when we look closely at the MIC we see something akin to American fascism. As he put it to me: “Our fascism certainly doesn’t look like past European movements, but it is far more durable, has killed millions and millions (SE Asia, Indonesia, Central America, Middle East), and has manifold expressions: wars abroad, wars at home, surveillance state, digital border, militarized law enforcement, economic warfare in the form of sanctions, militarization of space.”
It’s hard not to agree with him, not in the sense of Hitler’s Germany or Mussolini’s Italy but in the sense of concentrated government/corporate power that draws sustenance from nationalism at home and imperialism abroad. It’s true that America doesn’t have goose-stepping soldiers in the street. There are no big military parades (though Donald Trump once wanted one). It still seems like we have contending political parties. But when we look deeper, a militant nationalism and aggressive imperialism powered by corporations and enforced by government, including notably the Supreme Court, is the salient feature of this American moment.
Consider the classic symbol of the fasces, from which the word fascism is drawn. It’s a bundle of rods bound tightly together — the idea being that while one rod may be bent or broken, a bundle of them becomes far more resistant to bending or breaking. For me, this image conjures the MICIMATT. Bundle the military with industry, add Congress, roughly 17 intelligence agencies, the media, academe, and various think tanks, then bind them with nearly a trillion dollars and enormous political and cultural authority and you create a structure that is far stronger, insidiously so, than the sum of its individual parts.
This is exactly what the MICIMATT constitutes: an imperial bundling and binding of powerful interests that possesses and commands enormous resources, including most importantly mental and emotional ones, like appeals to patriotism and the flag. Consider the mainstream media (MSM), which nowadays is pro-war, pro-military, and therefore highly critical of anti-war protests. Indeed, the MSM today in the U.S. employs retired generals, admirals, and ex-CIA and ex-FBI officials to support the establishment and attack and dismiss critics of the same as naive (at best) or as dupes or puppets of various enemies (most often of Russia).
Consider, for example, the smear in 2020 of Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a veteran of the Iraq War who continues to serve in the Army National Guard. NBC News, together with prominent establishment figures like Hillary Clinton, portrayed Gabbard as a potential Russian asset and the favorite candidate of the Kremlin. Gabbard’s “crime” was her criticism of disastrous regime-change wars (such as Iraq) that Clinton had enthusiastically supported, along with Gabbard’s statements that echoed Ike in their criticism of the MIC.
Influential critics of war and the MIC are neutralized. For its prescient criticism of the Iraq War, Phil Donahue’s show was cancelled. Reporter Ashleigh Banfield, who critiqued Iraq War coverage, was demoted. Former Governor Jesse Ventura was hired to a lucrative three-year contract, then put on ice when MSNBC discovered he was against the Iraq War. Worse is the punishment allotted to those who truly embarrass the MIC, such as Chelsea Manning and Daniel Hale. Both were imprisoned for showing the American people the ugly face of the MIC’s wars. Worst of all is the persecution of Julian Assange, an Australian citizen who the U.S. government is seeking to prosecute and jail under laws passed during World War I to deter internal dissent within America. Edward Snowden, meanwhile, remains exiled in Russia, perhaps permanently, since to allow him to return might inspire other patriotic whistleblowers to come forward—and we can’t have that in the land of the free.
But I can write my blog so I’m free, right? The MIC is not worried by my critique. If it can survive and flourish despite Ike’s warning, it can certainly ignore me. We the people have no real power unless we too can combine. Sadly, a weakness of antiwar forces in America is internal disagreements and bickering, as witnessed recently before the Rage Against the War Machine Rally in DC. The MIC, in contrast, is tightly bound by greed and power.
Bending or breaking the MICIMATT seems well-nigh impossible. It could be weakened by making substantial cuts to its budget, but Congress insists on feeding it more money, not less, despite enormous waste and five failed audits in a row for the Pentagon.
If bending and breaking it is impossible, can we light it on fire? To do that would require a powerful incendiary movement, a concentrated blast as if from a flamethrower, yet the MICIMATT is wrapped in a fire-resistant coating of patriotic cant, so even incendiary ideas and actions have their limits.
Returning to Ike, I continue to find it painfully ironic (and tragic) that his warning about the MIC has been buried even at the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C. Not only buried: Ike’s warning has been downgraded to a caution and interpreted by a narrator sponsored by Boeing, a leading merchant of death in the MIC.
So, despite an article I wrote ten years ago, critiquing the idea of American fascism, I find myself coming to accept it, especially as Democrats try to outdo Republicans in embracing war, militarism, and weapons sales as the health of the state. With so-called progressives voting for massive war budgets, where is the hope and change?
I know progressives make noises about cutting the war budget, thus Barbara Lee and Mark Pocan are yet again sponsoring legislation to cut that budget by $100 billion. It’s pretty much a scam, notes David Swanson. They are allowed to do this because the MIC knows their initiative stands no hope of passing. Meanwhile, Republicans like Matt Gaetz have their own effort to cut Ukraine war funding, an effort also doomed to fail. What America truly needs is a bipartisan effort against the war machine, but instead it’s the MIC that continues to enjoy strong bipartisan support. The MIC is bound together (thus its strength); its opponents are both too disputatious and too few.
Which brings me to a sentiment attributed to Sinclair Lewis (though he didn’t use these exact words): If fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. Certainly, the MIC is wrapped in the flag. Remarkable too is how U.S. militarism is embraced as a form of muscular Christianity, a sign of America’s righteousness, with might making right. Across Christianity in America today, one hears remarkably little criticism of war, killing, and genocidal nuclear weapons. The vision of Christ as a peacemaker was long ago replaced by “Peacekeeper” nuclear missiles. Meanwhile, new nuclear ICBMs, bombers, and submarines are under construction today, increasing the chances of apocalyptic war (while guaranteeing large profits for the MIC).
Again, Ike warned us that the MIC is fundamentally anti-democratic. And, whatever else it is, the MIC is certainly not communist or leftist. Is it America’s version of fascism? That conclusion may seem shrilly alarmist, but that is arguably what we need: a shrill alarm to awaken us from our slumber.
9 thoughts on “The Military-Industrial Complex and American Fascism”
Reblogged this on Unorthodox Truth.
The latest assessment on the WAR by Col. Douglas Macgregor in the last 24 hours
i never thought i would applaud anything that Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene does, but she proved me wrong here.
This action by the US House of Representatives is not merely Wrong. It is absolute, total, pure, unadulterated EVIL.
It ranks right up there with Madame Secretary Albright’s response to 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq back in May of 1996: “We have heard that a HALF MILLION CHILDREN HAVE DIED. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but THE PRICE–WE THINK THE PRICE IS WORTH IT.
When the American Empire is held accountable for all the death, destruction, despair, and desperation that it has inflicted on this Planet since the end of World War II and particularly, since the end of Cold War I, it ~ and along with it, the Experiment called the United States of America ~ will be consigned to the garbage dump of History. …:
HOUSE OVERWHELMINGLY APPROVES RESOLUTION TO MAINTAIN SYRIA SANCTIONS AFTER EARTHQUAKE: Only Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) voted against the resolution by Dave DeCamp / Antiwar.com 030123
The House this week voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution to maintain sanctions on Syria following a devastating earthquake that has killed at least 5,900 people in the country, The Cradle reported on Wednesday.
The resolution was introduced by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and received 51 cosponsors. It passed in a vote of 414-2. Only Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) voted against the measure.
The resolution calls for the Biden administration to remain committed to “implementing the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019,” a law that imposed crippling sanctions on Syria that are designed to prevent the country from rebuilding after years of war.
The resolution said that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was “falsely claiming” US sanctions impeded the aid response to the earthquake. But it’s a fact that US sanctions hurt the relief effort, something that has been detailed by the head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and UN experts.
After initially claiming sanctions wouldn’t hurt the relief effort, the Biden administration issued a 180-day sanctions exemption for transactions related to earthquake relief. UN experts responded by welcoming the move but said it wasn’t enough and called for the sanctions to be fully lifted… .
The article concludes: THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION HAS SAID IT’S AGAINST REGIONAL COUNTRIES UPGRADING TIES WITH THE ASSAD GOVERNMENT, EVEN IF IT’S PART OF AN EFFORT TO AID IN EARTHQUAKE RELIEF. On top of the sanctions and opposing Syria’s engagement with its neighbors, THE US MAINTAINS AN OCCUPATION FORCE OF ABOUT 900 TROOPS IN EASTERN SYRIA and backs the Kurdish-led SDF in the region, allowing the US to control about one-third of Syrian territory. THE AREA THE US CONTROLS IS WHERE MOST OF THE COUNTRY’S OIL RESOURCES ARE, KEEPING THE VITAL RESOURCE OUT OF THE HANDS OF DAMASCUS.
Full article at: https://news.antiwar.com/2023/03/01/house-overwhelmingly-approves-resolution-to-maintain-syria-sanctions-after-earthquake/ ; EMPHASIS added.
I like the fact you posted this to make us aware JG, but but this is what I feel about what it says about US arbitrary and selective support of Human Rights for Political purposes :–(
US troops are in Syria in violation of the same International Law Russia is demonized for violating.
What is worse is the US supporting and facilitating the Saudi War in Yemen, with the absolutely horrific consequences for the children actually dying of starvation.
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I just learned it costs $42,000 an hour to fly all models of the F-35. That’s unconscionable with famine increasing in so many poor Countries.
The Day of Judgment on America may be much worse than I can imagine!
i agree with You completely, Ray. Syria, Yemen, and before that, Somalia, Libya, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. And now Ukraine. And soon, Eastasia.
The US has made regime change of governments it’s can’t control as American as Apple pie.
US General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Military Commander for NATO in Europe and now a PAID expert for CNN & MSNBC and extreme WAR Hawk on Ukraine, blew the whistle 4 years before the 2011 Arab Spring on the US WAR PLANS brought out within 2 weeks of 9/11 to change the regimes of Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon and at THE END, Iran.
The new extreme Jewish Supremacy government in Israel is already planning with the US to lead this World to that END.
‘Showdown in Ukraine. Hobbled US Turns to War to Preserve Its Waning Primacy’
The future of humanity will be decided on a battlefield in Ukraine. That’s no exaggeration. The conflict between the United States and Russia will determine whether global economic integration will expand within an evolving multi-polar system or if the “rules-based order” will succeed in crushing any opponent to its Western-centric model. This is what’s taking place in Ukraine today, in fact, all of the recent government-prepared documents related to national security identify Russia and China as the greatest threats to US hegemony. For example, take a look at this brief clip from the 2021 Congressional Research Service Report titled Renewed Great Power Competition: Implications for Defense—Issues for Congress:
The U.S. goal of preventing the emergence of regional hegemons in Eurasia… is a policy choice reflecting two judgments: (1) that given the amount of people, resources, and economic activity in Eurasia, a regional hegemon in Eurasia would represent a concentration of power large enough to be able to threaten vital U.S. interests….
From a U.S. perspective on grand strategy and geopolitics, it can be noted that most of the world’s people, resources, and economic activity are located not in the Western Hemisphere, but in the other hemisphere, particularly Eurasia. In response to this basic feature of world geography, U.S. policymakers for the last several decades have chosen to pursue, as a key element of U.S. national strategy, a goal of preventing the emergence of regional hegemons in Eurasia.” (“Renewed Great Power Competition: Implications for Defense—Issues for Congress”, US Congress)
That sums up US foreign policy in a nutshell; “prevent the emergence of a regional hegemon” at all cost. Now check out this summary of the 2022 US National Defense Strategy by Andre Damon at the World Socialist Web Site:
These documents, which were not seriously discussed in the US media, make clear the fundamental falsehood that the massive US military buildup this year is a response to “Russian aggression.” In reality, in the thinking of the White House and Pentagon war planners, the massive increases in military spending and plans for war with China are created by “dramatic changes in geopolitics, technology, economics, and our environment.”
These documents make clear that the United States sees the economic rise of China as an existential threat, to be responded to with the threat of military force. The United States sees the subjugation of Russia as a critical stepping stone toward the conflict with China.” (“Pentagon national strategy document targets China”, Andre Damon, World Socialist Web Site)………………………………………………..