[Reposted from SmugBaldy.com – because I’d rather have you read my writing.]
There are plenty of horror flicks out there, but way deep down we know they’re fictional and so we’re not really scared by them. Startled, maybe. Disgusted, sure. But not really scared.
No, in order for a movie to really reach inside you and send an icy chill all along your spine, there has to be truth behind the terror. Nothing gives birth to a truly horrific sense of dread as authenticity.
That’s why I found Sony Pictures Why We Fight so damn scary. It’s a story that begins with a warning of undue influence of for-profit military contract corporations on American foreign policy, and ends up with a picture of an an America that dutifully swallows think-tank generated talking points in support of war after war after war. And, of course, the horror of it is that it’s all true.
First the warning:
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 huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
This was part of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1961 Farewell Address to the nation. As Eisenhower stepped down, he was quite candid concerning what he perceived to be one of the two greatest threats to American liberty: the rise of Military Industrial Complex (aka the MIC).
What is the Military Industrial Complex?
According to militaryindustrialcomplex.com, it is:
a phrase used to signify a comfortable relationship between parties that are charged to manage wars (the military, the presidential administration and congress) and companies that produce weapons and equipment for war (industry). To put it simply, the Military-Industrial Complex is described as an all-too friendly relationship that may develop between defense contractors and government forces, where both sides receive what they are perceivably looking for: a successful military engagement for warplanners and financial profit for those manning the corporate boardrooms. It can be viewed as a “war for profit” theory.
If the MIC represents an inappropriately comfortable relationship between corporations that would likely profit from war and our elected officials that are charged with actually prosecuting wars, there is still the question as to whether it’s real. Could the MIC be a bogeyman used to frighten inquisitive bloggers? Read on to find out:
1. The United States spends more on defense than any other nation. Since 1961, the US budget for defense has increased by an order of magnitude – from a mere $49 Billion to nearly $500 Billion today [ref]. While critics will cite that the defense budget remains a fairly small portion of GDP, they often omit that American GDP has increased by a factor of 10 over the same time period as well.
2. Defense accounts for more than 50% of the US discretionary spending budget. [ref]
The Fiscal Year 2008 budget request includes $930 billion for discretionary spending (the money the President and Congress must decide and act to spend each year), roughly $481 billion of which will go to the Pentagon. The “National Defense” category of the federal budget for FY’08 accounts for over half of all discretionary spending (52 percent). [NOTE: These totals do NOT include funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. If the $141.7 billion requested for the “Global War on Terror” were included in both the request for the Department of Defense and the total for discretionary spending, the percentage of Pentagon spending of total discretionary spending would jump to over 58 percent.]
3. From 1961 to 1993, US forces have been involved in at least 56 military actions and wars around the world [ref]. It’s interesting that defending the US has historically and consistently meant projecting military force around the globe.
- 1962—Cuba. President Kennedy instituted a “quarantine” on the shipment of offensive missiles to Cuba from the Soviet Union. He also warned Soviet Union that the launching of any missile from Cuba against nations in the Western Hemisphere would bring about U.S. nuclear retaliation on the Soviet Union. A negotiated settlement was achieved in a few days.
- 1962—Thailand. The 3d Marine Expeditionary Unit landed on May 17, 1962 to support that country during the threat of Communist pressure from outside; by Jul 30 the 5000 marines had been withdrawn.
- 1962-75—Laos. From October 1962 until 1976, the United States played a role of military support in Laos.
- 1964—Congo. The United States sent four transport planes to provide airlift for Congolese troops during a rebellion and to transport Belgian paratroopers to rescue foreigners.
- 1964-73—Vietnam War. U.S. military advisers had been in South Vietnam a decade, and their numbers had been increased as the military position the Saigon government became weaker. After the attacks on U.S. destroyers in the Tonkin Gulf, President Johnson asked for a resolution expressing U.S. determination to support freedom and protect peace in Southeast Asia. Congress responded with the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, expressing support for “all necessary measures” the President might take to repel armed attacks against U.S. forces and prevent further aggression. Following this resolution, and following a Communist attack on a U.S. installation in central Vietnam, the United States escalated its participation in the war to a peak of 543 000 in April 1969.
- 1965—Dominican Republic. The United States intervened to protect lives and property during a Dominican revolt and sent more troops as fears grew that the revolutionary forces were coming increasingly under Communist control.
- 1967—Congo. The United States sent three military transport aircraft with crews to provide the Congo central government with logistical support during a revolt.
- 1970—Cambodia. U.S. troops were ordered into Cambodia to clean out Communist sanctuaries from which Viet Cong and North Vietnamese attacked U.S and South Vietnamese forces in Vietnam. The object of this attack, which lasted from April 30 to June 30, was to ensure the continuing safe withdrawal of American forces from South Vietnam and to assist the program of Vietnamization.
- 1974—Evacuation from Cyprus. United States naval forces evacuated U.S. civilians during hostilities between Turkish and Greek Cypriot forces.
- 1975—Evacuation from Vietnam. On April 3, 1975, President Ford reported U.S. naval vessels, helicopters, and Marines had been sent to assist in evacuation of refugees and U.S. nationals from Vietnam.
- 1975—Evacuation from Cambodia. On April 12, 1975, President Ford reported that he had ordered U.S. military forces to proceed with the planned evacuation of U.S. citizens from Cambodia.
- 1975—South Vietnam. On April 30 1975, President Ford reported that a force of 70 evacuation helicopters and 865 Marines had evacuated about 1,400 U.S. citizens and 5,500 third country nationals and South Vietnamese from landing zones near the U.S. Embassy in Saigon and the Tan Son Nhut Airfield.
- 1975—Mayaguez incident. On May 15, 1975, President Ford reported he had ordered military forces to retake the SS Mayaguez, a merchant vessel en route from Hong Kong to Thailand with U.S. citizen crew which was seized from Cambodian naval patrol boats in international waters and forced to proceed to a nearby island.
- 1976—Lebanon. On July 22 and 23, 1974, helicopters from five U.S. naval vessels evacuated approximately 250 Americans and Europeans from Lebanon during fighting between Lebanese factions after an overland convoy evacuation had been blocked by hostilities.
- 1976—Korea. Additional forces were sent to Korea after two American military personnel were killed while in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea for the purpose of cutting down a tree.
- 1978—Zaire. From May 19 through June 1978, the United States utilized military transport aircraft to provide logistical support to Belgian and French rescue operations in Zaire.
- 1980—Iran. On April 26, 1980, President Carter reported the use of six U.S. transport planes and eight helicopters in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue American hostages being held in Iran.
- 1981—El Salvador. After a guerilla offensive against the government of El Salvador, additional U.S. military advisers were sent to El Salvador, bringing the total to approximately 55, to assist in training government forces in counterinsurgency.
- 1981—Libya. On August 19, 1981, U.S. planes based on the carrier Nimitz shot down two Libyan jets over the Gulf of Sidra after one of the Libyan jets had fired a heat-seeking missile. The United States periodically held freedom of navigation exercises in the Gulf of Sidra, claimed by Libya as territorial waters but considered international waters by the United States.
- 1982—Sinai. On March 19, 1982, President Reagan reported the deployment of military personnel and equipment to participate in the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai. Participation had been authorized by the Multinational Force and Observers Resolution, Public Law 97-132.
- 1982—Lebanon. On August 21, 1982, President Reagan reported the dispatch of 80 marines to serve in the multinational force to assist in the withdrawal of members of the Palestine Liberation force from Beirut. The Marines left Sept. 20, 1982.
- 1982—Lebanon. On September 29, 1982, President Reagan reported the deployment of 1200 marines to serve in a temporary multinational force to facilitate the restoration of Lebanese government sovereignty. On Sept. 29, 1983, Congress passed the Multinational Force in Lebanon Resolution (P.L. 98-119) authorizing the continued participation for eighteen months.
- 1983—Egypt. After a Libyan plane bombed a city in Sudan on March 18, 1983, and Sudan and Egypt appealed for assistance, the United States dispatched an AWACS electronic surveillance plane to Egypt.
- 1983-89—Honduras. In July 1983 the United States undertook a series of exercises in Honduras that some believed might lead to conflict with Nicaragua. On March 25, 1986, unarmed U.S. military helicopters and crewmen ferried Honduran troops to the Nicaraguan border to repel Nicaraguan troops.
- 1983—Chad. On August 8, 1983, President Reagan reported the deployment of two AWACS electronic surveillance planes and eight F-15 fighter planes and ground logistical support forces to assist Chad against Libyan and rebel forces.
- 1983—Grenada. On October 25, 1983, President Reagan reported a landing on Grenada by Marines and Army airborne troops to protect lives and assist in the restoration of law and order and at the request of five members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.
- 1984—Persian Gulf. On June 5, 1984, Saudi Arabian jet fighter planes, aided by intelligence from a U.S. AWACS electronic surveillance aircraft and fueled by a U.S. KC-10 tanker, shot down two Iranian fighter planes over an area of the Persian Gulf proclaimed as a protected zone for shipping.
- 1985—Italy . On October 10, 1985, U.S. Navy pilots intercepted an Egyptian airliner and forced it to land in Sicily. The airliner was carrying the hijackers of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro who had killed an American citizen during the hijacking.
- 1986—Libya. On March 26, 1986, President Reagan reported to Congress that, on March 24 and 25, U.S. forces, while engaged in freedom of navigation exercises around the Gulf of Sidra, had been attacked by Libyan missiles and the United States had responded with missiles.
- 1986—Libya. On April 16, 1986, President Reagan reported that U.S. air and naval forces had conducted bombing strikes on terrorist facilities and military installations in Libya.
- 1986—Bolivia. U.S. Army personnel and aircraft assisted Bolivia in anti-drug operations.
- 1987-88—Persian Gulf. After the Iran-Iraq War resulted in several military incidents in the Persian Gulf, the United States increased U.S. Navy forces operating in the Persian Gulf and adopted a policy of reflagging and escorting Kuwaiti oil tankers through the Gulf. President Reagan reported that U.S. ships had been fired upon or struck mines or taken other military action on September 23, October 10, and October 20, 1987 and April 19, July 4, and July 14, 1988. The United States gradually reduced its forces after a cease-fire between Iran and Iraq on August 20, 1988.
- 1988—Panama. In mid-March and April 1988, during a period of instability in Panama and as pressure grew for Panamanian military leader General Manuel Noriega to resign, the United States sent 1,000 troops to Panama, to “further safeguard the canal, U.S. lives, property and interests in the area.” The forces supplemented 10,000 U.S. military personnel already in Panama.
- 1989—Libya. On January 4, 1989, two U.S. Navy F-14 aircraft based on USS John F. Kennedy shot down two Libyan jet fighters over the Mediterranean Sea about 70 miles north of Libya. The U.S. pilots said the Libyan planes had demonstrated hostile intentions.
- 1989—Panama. On May 11, 1989, in response to General Noriega’s disregard of the results of the Panamanian election, President Bush ordered a brigade- sized force of approximately 1,900 troops to augment the estimated 11,000 U.S. forces already in the area.
- 1989—Andean Initiative in War on Drugs. On September 15, 1989, President Bush announced that military and law enforcement assistance would be sent to help the Andean nations of Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru combat illicit drug producers and traffickers. By mid-September there were 50- 100 U.S. military advisers in Colombia in connection with transport and training in the use of military equipment, plus seven Special Forces teams of 2-12 persons to train troops in the three countries.
- 1989—Philippines. On December 2, 1989, President Bush reported that on December 1 U.S. fighter planes from Clark Air Base in the Philippines had assisted the Aquino government to repel a coup attempt. In addition, 100 marines were sent from the U.S. Navy base at Subic Bay to protect the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
- 1989—Panama. On December 21, 1989, President Bush reported that he had ordered U.S. military forces to Panama to protect the lives of American citizens and bring General Noriega to justice. By February 13, 1990, all the invasion forces had been withdrawn.
- 1990—Liberia. On August 6, 1990, President Bush reported that a reinforced rifle company had been sent to provide additional security to the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, and that helicopter teams had evacuated U.S. citizens from Liberia.
- 1990—Saudi Arabia. On August 9, 1990, President Bush reported that he had ordered the forward deployment of substantial elements of the U.S. armed forces into the Persian Gulf region to help defend Saudi Arabia after the August 2 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. On November 16, 1990, he reported the continued buildup of the forces to ensure an adequate offensive military option.
- 1991—Iraq. On January 18, 1991, President Bush reported that he had directed U.S. armed forces to commence combat operations on January 16 against Iraqi forces and military targets in Iraq and Kuwait, in conjunction with a coalition of allies and U.N. Security Council resolutions. On January 12 Congress had passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq Resolution (P.L. 102-1). Combat operations were suspended on February 28, 1991.
- 1991—Iraq. On May 17, 1991, President Bush stated in a status report to Congress that the Iraqi repression of the Kurdish people had necessitated a limited introduction of U.S. forces into northern Iraq for emergency relief purposes.
- 1991—Zaire. On September 25-27, 1991, after widespread looting and rioting broke out in Kinshasa, U.S. Air Force C-141s transported 100 Belgian troops and equipment into Mnshasa. U.S. planes also carried 300 French troops into the Central African Republic and hauled back American citizens and third country nationals from locations outside Zaire.
- 1992—Sierra Leone. On May 3, 1992, U.S. military planes evacuated Americans from Sierra Leone, where military leaders had overthrown the government.
- 1992—Kuwait. On August 3, 1992, the United States began a series of military exercises in Kuwait, following Iraqi refusal to recognize a new border drawn up by the United Nations and refusal to cooperate with U.N. inspection teams.
- 1992—Iraq. On September 16, 1992 President Bush stated in a status report that he had ordered U.S. participation in the enforcement of a prohibition against Iraqi flights in a specified zone in southern Iraq, and aerial reconnaissance to monitor Iraqi compliance with the cease-fire resolution.
- 1992—Somalia. On December 10, 1992, President Bush reported that he had deployed U.S. armed forces to Somalia in response to a humanitarian crisis and a U.N. Security Council Resolution determining that the situation constituted a threat to international peace. This operation, called Operation Restore Hope, was part of a U.S.-led United Nations Unified Task Force (UNITAF) and came to an end on May 4, 1993. U.S. forces continued to participate in the successor United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM II), which the U.N. Security Council authorized to assist Somalia in political reconciliation and restoration of peace.
- 1993—Iraq. On January 19, 1993, President Bush said in a status report that on December 27, 1992, U.S. aircraft shot down an Iraqi aircraft in the prohibited zone; on January 13 aircraft from the United States and coalition partners had attacked missile bases in southern Iraq; and further military actions had occurred on January 17 and 18. Administration officials said the United States was deploying a battalion task force to Kuwait to underline the continuing U.S. commitment to Kuwaiti independence.
- 1993—Iraq. On January 21, 1993, shortly after his inauguration, President Clinton said the United States would continue the Bush policy on Iraq, and U.S. aircraft fired at targets in Iraq after pilots sensed Iraqi radar or anti-aircraft fire directed at them.
- 1993—Bosnia-Hercegovina. On February 28, 1993, the United States bagan an airdrop of relief supplies aimed at Muslims surrounded by Serbian forces in Bosnia.
- 1993—Bosnia-Hercegovina. On April 13, 1993, President Clinton reported U.S. forces were participating in a NATO air action to enforce a U.N. ban on all unauthorized military flights over Bosnia-Hercegovina.
- 1993—Iraq. In a status report on Iraq of May 24, President Clinton said that on April 9 and April 18 U.S. warplanes had bombed or fired missiles at Iraqi anti-aircraft sites which had tracked U.S. aricraft.
- 1993—Somalia. On June 10, 1993, President Clinton reported that in response to attacks against U.N. forces in Somalia by a factional leader, the U.S. Quick Reaction Force in the area had participated in military action to quell the violence. The quick reaction force was part of the U.S. contribution to a success On July 1, President Clinton reported further air and ground military operations on June 12 and June 17 aimed at neutralizing military capabilities that had impeded U.N. efforts to deliver humanitarian relief and promote national reconstruction, and additional instances occurred in the following months.
- 1993—Iraq. On June 28, 1993, President Clinton reported that on June 26 U.S. naval forces had launched missiles against the Iraqi Intelligence Service’s headquarters in Baghdad in response to an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate former President Bush in Kuwait in April 1993.
- 1993—Iraq. In a status report of July 22, 1993, President Clinton said on June 19 a U.S. aircraft had fired a missile at an Iraqi anti-aircraft site displaying hostile intent. U.S. planes also bombed an Iraqi missile battery on August 19, 1993.
- 1993—Macedonia. On July 9, 1993, President Clinton reported the deployment of 350 U.S. armed forces to Macedonia to participate in the U.N. Protection Force to help maintain stability in the area of former Yugoslavia.
4. In 2005, more than half (10 of 19) of the defense and aerospace contractors on the Fortune Global 2000 list were American corporations.
5. While US military contracting has always been a very lucrative business, it is relatively new for investment management firms to stake their whole business on trading defense equities . Take The Carlyle Group, for example, which profited greatly following the 9/11 attacks:
In 1997, Carlyle liked the price of United Defense, and beat out General Dynamics and Alliant Techsystems, which also coveted the underperforming artillery firm. General Dynamics bid more than Carlyle offered for the company, but potentially faced a lengthy, drawn out antitrust battle if it acquired United Defense. Carlyle ended up winning the bid.
Carlyle finally sold its stakes in United after taking it public in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. The Washington Post called the hugely successful public offering “one of the most successful single venture investments of recent years.”
But United did not seem all that lucrative before September 11.
“They [Carlyle] were really kind of in a pickle with United Defense,” McCutchan said. “They wanted to cash out on the equity. There wasn’t much money to be made… When 9/11 happened and the defense budget took off, suddenly they had a winner on their hands.”
Even Carlyle, which typically does not disclose its financial and operational details, crowed over the sale.
“It was one of Carlyle’s best investments,” Carlyle’s Ullman told the Center. “We did make more than a billion dollars on that deal, and we are very pleased that we served our investors quite well.”
To paraphrase one of the commentators in Why We Fight, “When there’s such a great profit to be made from war, you can be sure that you’ll see more of it.”
Indeed, Eisenhower was way ahead of his time, and that should scare the shit out of us. Most interestingly, Eisenhower had some words of encouragement that he passed along with his warning:
Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.
Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.
Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose difference, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war-as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years-I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.
Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.
So, friends, while it’s not much, here’s something that I can do: I can remind you that the USA was once ruled by sane and sober statesmen and scholars; that we once took pride in our work and our dreams for the future; that we were once willing to accept the responsibilities that our ideals demanded of us regardless of the sacrifices involved; that we never loved war, though we were sometimes forced into it. I can also remind you that, while there are many new economic incentives to maintaining a perpetual state of war, there are still sane and sober Americans who will eventually, as President Eisenhower said, 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.
What are you going to do?