Overgrown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty."
-George Washington (1732-1799), First U.S. President
"[The] conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. 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."
-Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), 34th U.S. President, Farewell Address.
"It is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear."
-General Douglas MacArthur.
In the 1920s, U.S. President Calvin Coolidge said that "the business of America is business." Nowadays, it can be said that the arms industry and permanent war have become a big part of American business, as the offshoot of a well-entrenched military-industrial complex. This is a development that previous American men of vision-men like President George Washington and President Dwight Eisenhower-have warned against as being intrinsically inimical to democracy and liberty.
The current Bush-Cheney administration, however, is not afraid of such a development; its principal members are part of it and are instead very busy promoting it.
Wars, especially modern electronic wars, are very murderous, but they are also synonymous with big costplus contracts, big profits, and big employment for those who produce the required military gear. Wars are the paradise of profiteers.
Wars are also a way for mediocre politicians to monopolize both the news and the media in their partisan favour by whipping up patriotic fervor and by pushing for narrow-minded nationalism. Indeed, to inflame patriotism and nationalism is an old demagogic trick used to dominate a nation. When that happens, there is a clear danger that democracy and freedom will be eroded, and even disappear, if that development leads to an exacerbated concentration of power and political corruption.
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were a bonanza for the American military-industrial complex. This was an event, a "New Pearl Harbour," that some had openly been hoping for. The reason? These attacks gave the perfect pretext to keep military expenses-which had been expected to fall after the demise of the old Soviet Empire-at a high level. Instead, they provided the rationale for dramatically increasing them, by substituting a "war on terror" and a "war against Islam fundamentalists" as a replacement for the "war against communism," and the "Cold War against the Soviet Union."
In this new perspective, the gates of military spending could be open and flowing again. The development of ever more sophisticated armaments could go forward, and thousands of corporations and hundreds of political districts could continue to reap the benefits. The costs would be borne by the taxpayers, by young men and women who die in combat, and by remote populations who happen to lie under the rain of bombs about to fall upon them and their homes.
Indeed, in September 2000, when the Pentagon issued its famous strategy document entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses," the belief was expressed that the kind of military transformation the planners were considering required "some catastrophic and catalyzing event-like a new Pearl Harbour," to make it possible to sell the plan to the American public. They were either prescient or lucky, because one year later they had the "New Pearl Harbour" they had been hoping for.
The military-industrial complex needs wars, many and successive wars, to prosper. Old military equipment has to be repaired and replaced each time there is a hot war. …