Scariest Movie Ever: Why We Fight

[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:

Dwight D. EisenhowerUntil 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:

 

Consider:

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?

Watch Eisenhower’s complete Farewell Address Here

29 thoughts on “Scariest Movie Ever: Why We Fight

  1. Balancing power is what democracy was originally intended to do, it needs to be internally steadfast and uncorrupt within the system, but those determined to gain power/ money/ the power to make money will find a way to influence congress, it just needs to be recognised by those in power and controlled – but if eisenhower couldn’t control it there isn’t much hope for anyone now.

    What are you going to do?

    There is nothing regular people can do. It’s out of our hands. It will apply whoever gets elected because it’s a fault in the system. As I said, eisenhower himself couldn’t stop it even in it’s earlier days.
    Could this be a starting point of a New world order? At least in some form, power is shifting from political to economic.

  2. Chilling—and really, really sad.

    Bahamat:

    There is nothing regular people can do. It’s out of our hands. It will apply whoever gets elected because it’s a fault in the system. As I said, eisenhower himself couldn’t stop it even in it’s earlier days.

    A prospect that is even more terrifying than the film’s actual message.

    Could this be a starting point of a New world order? At least in some form, power is shifting from political to economic.

    I think this has actually been the case for quite some time. It’s perverted and wrong, of course, but I think it has explained the ruling situation for at least several decades.

  3. MP: Always the optimist, huh Bahamat?

    Sometimes people will not rest until a well-intentioned objective is fulfilled, sometimes persuing this can be at great personal cost (by not being at peace) relative to the benefit that person has the capability to bring.

    I attempt to use the realization of incapability as a way to lay you and others to rest. If you believe you can stop this (or have some energy to burn), which I understand, then by all means persue it until you either complete your goals or are satisfied to abandon them

    Rest in peace smile

    sadie:I think this has actually been the case for quite some time. It’s perverted and wrong, of course, but I think it has explained the ruling situation for at least several decades.

    I can only speculate… I wonder where we’re headed. We at least are OK now… can governence get better than OK I wonder – not enslaved to work or needs would be ideal but unsustainable

  4. Bahamat: sometimes pursuing this can be at great personal cost

    Well it’s certainly no fun tilting at windmills if you can’t get a little banged up now and then, is it?

    Sadie: I think this has actually been the case for quite some time. It’s perverted and wrong, of course, but I think it has explained the ruling situation for at least several decades.

    Apparently, you’re not alone.  Someone named Ken Larson just posted this comment on my site.  This might make for some interesting late night reading:

    Ken Larson:
    I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak. I believed another Vietnam could be avoided with defined missions and the best armaments in the world.

    It made no difference.

    We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read how this happens please see:

    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/03/spyagency200703

    Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.

    There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.

    The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

    So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

    This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

    The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.

    For more details see:

    http://rosecoveredglasses.blogspot.com/2006/11/inside-pentagon-procurement-from.html

    Interestingly, he mentions public apathy as one of the causes.

  5. I’m subscribing to this interesting thread.

    Which is a personal blog. If this blog originated in a Country that was dominated by a Muslim ruling Government. The owner would likely be taken into custody, made to kneel and worship Allah and to mend his ways.

    Oh Wait…THEY don’t allow or tolerate such things to start with. They decide what you will discuss, wear, and worst of all, Prayer Times…

  6. Paul:

    If this blog originated in a Country that was dominated by a Muslim ruling Government. The owner would likely be taken into custody, made to kneel and worship Allah and to mend his ways.
    Oh Wait…THEY don’t allow or tolerate such things to start with. They decide what you will discuss, wear, and worst of all, Prayer Times…

    I’m not sure how this connects to the topic at hand. In any event, Turkey is an example of a country whose government has managed to be secular and republican despite a very strong Islamic tradition (and electorate).

  7. This is why we need well armed (and city/county run) militias and not a giant regular army.

  8. I’ve been ready for a revolution, but few seem to want to join.

    You let me know, and I might be in. I will depend on what you want from it.

  9. If this blog originated in a Country that was dominated by a Muslim ruling Government. The owner would likely be taken into custody, made to kneel and worship Allah and to mend his ways.

    What’s your point, Paul?  That as long as we’re killing Muslims, war is a good thing?

  10. I think this has actually been the case for quite some time. It’s perverted and wrong, of course, but I think it has explained the ruling situation for at least several decades.

    I guess I agree. The existence of the military industrial complex underscores an important point – trade as a defense condition. However, putting war-for-profit above or on par with peace as far as the contribution to trade, I’m really iffy on that. I tend to think that the money funnelled into the MIC could be better spent, but I’ve nothing to support that claim.

  11. MP: Well it’s certainly no fun tilting at windmills if you can’t get a little banged up now and then, is it?

    Good point, I’m heading to flatline apathy on everything. No ups without hills, nothing ventured (in my laziness)…
    Perhaps in order to have an up you unavoidably create the potential for a down, by having a need that creates hapiness when fulfilled but craving when not

    Timmeh: This is why we need well armed (and city/county run) militias and not a giant regular army.

    The city-states would need to be about equal strength, so that you don’t have one excessively powerful one turning imperialistic itself (and in doing so create it’s own national army). Centralized government would have no ability to enforce it’s authority without a national army or national police, you would effectively have seperate countries if you did this.

    Patness: However, putting war-for-profit above or on par with peace as far as the contribution to trade, I’m really iffy on that. I tend to think that the money funnelled into the MIC could be better spent, but I’ve nothing to support that claim.

    I think war for profit only works if the profiteer is not the one financing the war but maintains control over the organization that is. They could do it by bribing congress less than the amount they stand to gain in order to control the ones who (at least in some way) control taxpayer’s money – the taxpayer is the one who’s spending is being controlled and financing the whole thing, they are the only ones losing out, but it works because they can’t control it (or don’t know about it)

    Congress’s bribes would be like a form of comission for a salesperson who decides what the customer (taxpayer) buys

  12. The “military industrial complex” is the government investing in science on a level unprecedented in other nations though too, for practical purposes that employ US citizens directly while disregarding most potential inputs from foreign entities. Really its all win for almost any nation:

    You’re taking taxes and employing your constituents in jobs that serve useful domestic and political purposes, investing in industries that rarely are allowed to be moved elsewhere simply because they can “produce tanks cheaper in China,” and that money protects the rest of your money simply by being spent.

    The problem isn’t that we’re spending the money, it’s how we’re using the money we spend. It’s like investing in police organizations: Police are great when they’re preventing onerous blemishes on society and helping kittens out of trees, they’re bastard fascist agents of oppression when they’re beating the shit out of you for driving while black or because you slept with some other cop’s wife.

    Military spending is a tiny fraction of total spending, no matter what its portion of discretionary spending is. It’s wasteful to never use that investment for political purpose just as it’s wasteful to use that investment in a way that ties it up so as to make it useless for more important purposes. That’s to say, I don’t find there much wrong or immoral about ordering an airstrike on Libya when they murder hundreds of people in England or sending in troops to try to prevent gang violence in Somalia. I don’t feel we’ve an obligation to do so, but the vast portion of the examples I assume you’re touting as “wrong” simply make a lot of sense if you’re opposed to, I dunno, things like people killing large numbers of innocent people. Could we do some of those things better? Sure.

    On the other hand, the sort of military we’ve invested in isn’t a garrison force or some sort of international police force. That subtle but important element of our unit composition is vastly underrated when you’re talking about how and when we should engage people with our military. That’s the grounds I oppose our war in Iraq on, because it’s a misapplication of and gross misunderstanding of the nature of our military.

    I think that it’s a source of confusion and wrong thinking in your article as well: There are problems with the system, but you’ve outlined none of the real problems with the system. You instead outlined problems with the usage of the system, problems with policy and execution. An indictment of our military spending in the decades since WW2 rings hollow, because you might as well indict the world for being the way it is.

  13. MM: Really its all win for almost any nation:
    You’re taking taxes and employing your constituents in jobs that serve useful domestic and political purposes, investing in industries that rarely are allowed to be moved elsewhere simply because they can “produce tanks cheaper in China,” and that money protects the rest of your money simply by being spent

    Spending on any sector makes it’s way into the economy, providing jobs. The difference is the military destroys infrastructure and citizenry. It’s allright as long as it’s not your country on the recieving end of the wars that inevitably result from this kind of set-up.

  14. Patness: I guess I agree. The existence of the military industrial complex underscores an important point – trade as a defense condition.

    I think we’re saying the same thing, but instead of “trade as a defense condition”, I would articulate it differently: Defense as a profit center.

    I work for a global fortune 2000 firm, and let me say this from first hand experience:  Profit is king.

    Value to the shareholder outweighs all other concerns.  In our business, it’s simply about selling computers and electronic components, and greater sales = greater profit.  I can’t imagine, however, that it’s any different for any other large corporation – even defense contractors.  If you want to maximize shareholder value, you have to maintain sales.  When you’re selling tanks, APCs, fighter jets,aircraft carriers, and mountains of munitions, your liberal profit margin only takes you so far.  You have to sell sell sell to stay afloat.  Unfortunately, the only way to guarantee sales of weapons and weapon systems is to make sure you have repeat customers – and that means your products have to be used.

    And “using” these products means people die. Horribly.

  15. MP- That just got me thinking- if I buy enough of the the right shares I can send the US into any war I want to cool grin

  16. MP: And “using” these products means people die. Horribly.

    Which is primarily where my concern comes from – trade as a defense condition IS different from defense as a profitable endeavor. In the MIC, the profits do come back and they do protect the nation from that standpoint. However, when it comes with warfare attached, I question if we see the benefit as much as we could.

    Superior training and superior equipment go a long way as far as defense goes, though. War is, much as I hate to say it, a good regulator.

    (edit: to clarify, I see trade as a defense condition primarily in that there is greater benefit to everyone involved in trade, versus warfare, which is rarely of greater benefit. Hence, warfare is deterred by better opportunities).

  17. Patness: Superior training and superior equipment go a long way as far as defense goes, though.

    Agreed.  One of the problems I have with this whole thing is that national defense is necessary.  Every nation needs to have security.  To me, the question is one of undue power held by corporate entities that have no public oversight.  Are we starting wars so somebody can cash in on stock options?

  18. Are we starting wars so somebody can cash in on stock options?

    lol! Did… did you want me to answer that question? Or was it rhetorical?

    I understand, though. Virtually any problem we can solve is systemic, and in that light, I’m glad we realize we have one. The problem is and will always be, how you change the system when we have a strong investment in it.

  19. We could invest ourselves if we could somehow summon that quantity of money, and use shareholder voting power to control the contractors, and if so you would also need to prevent unscrupulous small competitors taking advantage (through monopoly/oligopoly).
    We could even have (and rely on) a nationalized defense contractor :LOL: – as if that’s ever gonna happen

  20. I missed your comment earlier MisterMook – so I apologize for the tardiness of this reply. 

    MM: An indictment of our military spending in the decades since WW2 rings hollow, because you might as well indict the world for being the way it is.

    I completely agree.  Good thing I’m not indicting military spending per se.  While we spend obscene amounts of money on defense, that’s not the real issue as you point out.  Even so, your claim that “Military spending is a tiny fraction of total spending, no matter what its portion of discretionary spending is” hinges on the meaning of tiny. The fact is that, with a top line budget of about $2.9 Trillion, defense accounts for just under 20% at $577 Billion in the FY 2008 request [ref: ]http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2008/pdf/08msr.pdf].  That’s before you add the discretionary portion, which is another $500 Billion, and then the costs of the “Global war on terror”  which is another $145 Billion.  So, when all is said and done that’s $1.1 Trillion of a total of just under 4 trillion for fiscal 2008.  When you consider the whole budget (mandatory + discretionary) the US will spend 1 of every 4 dollars on defense in FY 2008.  That’s not good or bad – it’s just a wholelottamoney, and I’d argue 25% isn’t necessarily a tiny fraction.  Try dropping 25% of your body mass, or cutting off 25% of your right arm for an idea of how not tiny that is.

    So – like I said – I agree that the “we spend a lot” argument alone isn’t sufficient to cause concern.  My point is that what we spend is a symptom of a greater problem of misplaced power and influence, a tell-tale sign of probable corruption and assholery in high places.  With trillions of dollars at stake, and a perpetual global war of ill-defined nature, I’m thinking it’s either time to hop on the gravy train, or to start demanding a greater level of accountability in how those heaps of money get tossed about.

    Patness: Or was it rhetorical?

    Ha! You want an answer to that?

  21. Spending on any sector makes it’s way into the economy, providing jobs. The difference is the military destroys infrastructure and citizenry. It’s alright as long as it’s not your country on the receiving end of the wars that inevitably result from this kind of set-up.

    With all due respect, if you think this you’re not fully informed about the system: While it’s true that there are earmarks for spending money on regionally sensitive areas and small businesses, most government solicitations aren’t under any particular obligation to be bid on and performed by US companies. There’s no reason to exclude competent contractors outside the country or contractors whose gross employment is outside the country for something that isn’t security sensitive. That’s exactly how you get something like companies from Dubai getting contracts to manage portions of US ports and government software development that happens in Europe or Asia. With a tank though, or some similar piece of equipment, it’s not advantageous to secure development outside the country, because it makes you vulnerable to trade restrictions or interference.

    Furthermore, to simplify the role of the military to only “destroys infrastructure and citizenry,” is incredibly suggestive and uninformed too. When we’re not in a war the military isn’t destroying anything or killing anyone. They’re mostly doing things like providing flood relief and acting more or less like any other member of the community that’s employed in a community service role by the government. Even when they’re deployed overseas, the vast majority of most military presence doesn’t have anything whatsoever to do with killing people or destroying infrastructure in principle. Certainly when the military is deployed to strengthen an embassy, or to protect food envoys, or to hand out vital supplies after a disaster, they’re not “killing people and destroying infrastructure.” Now, perhaps there are organizations that can also provide those sorts of services, but there’s not many that can perform them in areas where the locals are likely to shoot or rob them with an expectation that they can curb prospective violence. And, also importantly, there aren’t any other agencies that are so visibly an agency of the United States government either – if a soldier is outside the country and providing you aid then you know it’s an act of the US government and no some generous person within the country. That’s diplomacy.

    Again, I don’t think we’re accomplishing that sort of mission effectively in Iraq, but that’s a matter of policy, not a problem with the organizations involved.

  22. There’s no reason to exclude competent contractors outside the country or contractors whose gross employment is outside the country for something that isn’t security sensitive.

    I’m a large shareholder in Halliburton and Lockheed-Martin, I have friends financially backing Blackwater.

    No incentive at all.

    MM, I think you missed the point that was being driven at way back at the beginning – there is, and will continue to be, such a systemic collusion between members of government and military development firms.

    Even when they’re deployed overseas, the vast majority of most military presence doesn’t have anything whatsoever to do with killing people or destroying infrastructure in principle.

    But in practice, they do it all the time. Care to debate whether Iraq would be better off if we hadn’t destroyed their infrastructure by sorties (alongside the British)? Electricity, water, transit, these things tend to be important to civilians, and important politically when you destroy them and invade with a smile and a helping hand. Of course, as we’re probably agreed, Iraq is a very particular example. The point still stands – warfare destroys. These are weapons, their quality is determined best in the field, used in live-combat situations. Yes, there are times when you’ll equip troops to do some damn good things.

    However, it IS an issue for the organizations involved – the government issues the orders, and their motivations (collusive with commercial profit as they will undoubtably be) are important. Again, we develop weapons to deter and kill – and they deter because they kill effectively. So what we need to demonstrate is that, ah yes, there is a continuing needs to deter and kill ever more effectively.

    Sorry, but I discount your statements primarily based on bias that denying government and corporate collusion in policy and execution is naive. I think it really is in the nature of the beast. We have to be careful of that.

  23. MM- most government solicitations aren’t under any particular obligation to be bid on and performed by US companies

    Whilst it might be true that arms are more difficult of the manufactured goods to import, there is a global arms trade, and if it was cheaper or convenient to buy overseas they would no doubt find a way. Munitions and supplies may be a little easier, for example – and it’s cost effective in conflict time to have shorter supply routes to your area of deployment (and perhaps not actually pay for the goods until they reach you safetly).
    You could say that relitively more of that industry lies within US borders (hence the exports), but remember some sector spending has to be local by need, things like education, police, etc – we’re not just talking about manufactured goods being imported.

    Also compare the infrastructure per $ of the military to other services – consider how much building you get relitive to the US defense budget, which (the video stated) is larger than all others – the % value of new infrastructure accounted for should at minimum match the % the military takes of the budget, otherwise it’s less efficient. And consider, when we are at war, the effect on import/export prices (the US has a trade deficit), especially when you’ve instabalised an oil-supplier and their oil-wells are left burning (even if by natives who resent the presence)

    And granted, the military does other things and isn’t always at conflict and is a bargaining tool, but combining an uber-powerful military with leadership/contractors who want war is a war waiting to happen – if the US was only strong enough to genuinely protect itself, it wouldn’t be able to project it’s power overseas, and those who wanna war would have lost a tool.

  24. Whilst it might be true that arms are more difficult of the manufactured goods to import, there is a global arms trade, and if it was cheaper or convenient to buy overseas they would no doubt find a way. Munitions and supplies may be a little easier, for example – and it’s cost effective in conflict time to have shorter supply routes to your area of deployment (and perhaps not actually pay for the goods until they reach you safely).

    No, they wouldn’t. As far as the US goes, as long we have money to pay for it here, it’s out of the question and an absolute no-no. The Pentagon has crazed, vicious debates even when using Rolls-Royce engines and such, because even though the British are our allies having potential hiccups in supply/outside influence upon design/other security concerns isn’t the way you run a well-oiled paranoid machine. That’s not to say that the US doesn’t buy other people’s stuff – you just can’t safely run a country on securing your borders with stuff that other people sell you.

    Ask Israel, who would probably have about ten years before they were overrun because they couldn’t field their hardware anymore without outside aid selling them support, or Iran, which iirc is having troubles right now because we’re refusing to sell them the parts to maintain their US made air force.

    If you control the source of someone else’s military hardware, you’ve got enormous influence on that entity’s military and diplomacy. I’m continually astounded at the degree to which you Brits put up with it with the level of mutual handjobbing seems to go on between the Commonwealth and the US.

    Also compare the infrastructure per $ of the military to other services – consider how much building you get relative to the US defense budget, which (the video stated) is larger than all others – the % value of new infrastructure accounted for should at minimum match the % the military takes of the budget, otherwise it’s less efficient

    I’m not sure I understand a word of that, sorry.

    Arms exports by the US is big business because we spend enough money that it’s the very best in the world most of the time, so it’s in high demand, and because arms exports controls are political in nature and selling last decade’s fighter planes to allies (and prospective allies) is cheaper and more effective in influencing the use of that hardware than shipping corn.

    As I said before, if Commander Tikkitutu of Ihateyouallestan is using US planes and US hardware to maintain himself in power, then you can usually be damned sure that he’s not going to rock the boat much and get us to block his supply of arms that keeps hostile neighbor Nextdoorestan from invading and taking back the portion of the country he seized. Would it be better for the people of both countries to ship the corn? Sure, but in general that sort of aid tends to get sold to buy more guns or ends up in the bellies of wealthy backers/cronies of the ruling parties in the countries.

    In the short term it means that even a country like the UK and Germany can be strong-armed into supporting apolitical, unpopular ventures more easily that the US wants them to. Now, again, do I agree with the way this is always applied? No. I can’t disagree with the notion of wanting to have as much influence as possible with every possible competing or associated nation though. I agree with the basic system. I disagree with the application of the system.

    And consider, when we are at war, the effect on import/export prices (the US has a trade deficit), especially when you’ve instabalised (established?) an oil-supplier and their oil-wells are left burning (even if by natives who resent the presence)

    And again, you’re pushing this onto the Middle East and Iraq…I’m really discussing this in much more general terms. Most “wars” aren’t wars much at all, don’t have any effect at all on oil, occasionally have correcting or opening affects on markets (as in “we parked a battleship off their coast and now they sell us their bananas again,” or “after winning the Cold War without firing a shot in anger, the once Communist countries of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe now enjoy open markets”), and basically are affairs of posturing, potential conflict, and power projection without application of force.

    Actual bullets flying and bombs actually dropping is the least of the real power of having the power to shoot a bullet, drop bombs, etc.

    And granted, the military does other things and isn’t always at conflict and is a bargaining tool, but combining an uber-powerful military with leadership/contractors who want war is a war waiting to happen

    Contractors don’t “want war.” For the vast majority of contractors, war is a pain in the ass. It cuts spending on important programs, because the operations budget is so high and you’ve got certain money if you focus on getting paid for developing a program rather than “Maybe it will happen” money for programs that ramp up for the rare happenstance of operations. What do contractors want? To get paid. Operations budgets are huge, bloated things that are like parasites on defense spending.

    As for government leadership that wants war to happen though? Yes, that’s a problem; but it’s nothing much that the majority of defense contractors can do about without it except voting like the rest of us.

    if the US was only strong enough to genuinely protect itself, it wouldn’t be able to project it’s power overseas, and those who wanna war would have lost a tool.

    And so would those people who don’t want wars to happen. Maybe Europe or China could pick up the slack by increasing their own defense spending (and presumably be mean-ole’ bastards for presuming to), but without that ability to project force then Milosevic and the Balkans would still be filling mass graves I suppose. Not to mention every other penny war criminal who might give a big finger to the international community without the presumptive presence of a powerful force of engagement out there that can swing against them at a moment’s notice for bad behavior and a harsh article in the AP.

    People want to war, it’s a fact of human existence. Since so many people are intrinsically inclined toward the activity, it only makes sense to be very good at it if only to be sure that people don’t for fear of reprisal. The danger of war is not in doing it well, it’s doing it because you want to…And that’s still nothing to do with a the industry of war, but with the fellows who actually decide upon it as gatekeepers. I don’t have a problem if my neighbor wants to kill me, but I have a huge problem if my government allows it.

    It’s not the “Military Industrial Complex,” it’s those people in government in how they apply it.

  25. I never said that we don’t need regs. I just would like a more national guard approach to defense instead of a let’s police the world one.

  26. MM: The Pentagon has crazed, vicious debates even when using Rolls-Royce engines and such, because even though the British are our allies having potential hiccups in supply/outside influence upon design/other security concerns isn’t the way you run a well-oiled paranoid machine

    Stockpiling may be one way to insure against supply hiccups, or at least buys you time to look elsewhere. I would hope they know who they can trust, so long as they know who has a vested interest in seeing the US succeed.

    If you control the source of someone else’s military hardware, you’ve got enormous influence on that entity’s military and diplomacy.

    Look to who has a vested interest in your success, for example the iraqi insurgents get weapons from iran, granted partly because they don’t have as much choice but also because they know iran wants the US to remain stuck in iraq, the longer that happens the more time they have and the harder it’d be for the US gov’ment to make a case for another war (look at how long this took… still unstable… initial 9/11 motive wearing thin)

    I’m not sure I understand a word of that, sorry.

    If % of yearly budget is less than % of the value of new infrastructure, then you get less infrastructure for your buck by funding the military than you do for the other sectors. Bear in mind what the video said about the slice of the pie the military gets.

    And again, you’re pushing this onto the Middle East and Iraq

    Easiest example for me – I’m too young to remember much before. Terrorist war is less formalised, it seems

    Contractors don’t “want war.” For the vast majority of contractors, war is a pain in the ass

    There would not be a lot of work for a defense contractor without war (or the fear of) – the military does not have everything it needs normally – even in the current conflict there’s shortages of flak jackets for example, and the usege of munitions and feul tends to increase in conflict. This is why they might want to bribe congress into starting wars in the first place.

    but without that ability to project force then Milosevic and the Balkans would still be filling mass graves I suppose. Not to mention every other penny war criminal who might give a big finger to the international community without the presumptive presence of a powerful force of engagement out there that can swing against them at a moment’s notice for bad behavior and a harsh article in the AP.

    I suppose it depends on whether long term more lives are saved by getting rid of the regime than are lost in conflict. That is a difficult question nowadays with determined insurgents killing soldiers and people who aren’t even involved (as a protest), also difficult because we’re fed with distorted information on casulaties and there’s no easy way to predict how long the regime would’ve lasted without intervention and how many it would’ve killed (large mass murder tends to be unexpected – Saddie boy’s scuds for the shiites)

    People want to war, it’s a fact of human existence. Since so many people are intrinsically inclined toward the activity

    Me too thirsts to kill (randomly on oppertunity), but my mind tries to subdue that side. I know not why. Men bring death, women bring life.

    I don’t have a problem if my neighbor wants to kill me, but I have a huge problem if my government allows it

    The reverse for me, because ‘justice’ is reactive, not preventative (though I wouldn’t want it to be locking up the innocent) – that neighbour will have oppertunities to kill me before the law will have to oppertunity to do something about it, sure the law’s a deterrant to the killer but his prison sentance won’t do me much good. Without the law I’d have to rely on getting people to like me enough not to kill me, but it may be difficult when random person A goes on a rampage that had nothing to do with me

  27. MM: And that’s still nothing to do with a the industry of war, but with the fellows who actually decide upon it as gatekeepers.

    It’s not the “Military Industrial Complex,” it’s those people in government in how they apply it.

    And now we come full circle to the original point.  This movie is scary because it makes a reasonably solid case that the MIC isn’t something distinct from government.  It’s in part the vast defense industry, but it also has vast political reach and influence in many areas of military policy and spending.  Many of the top executives at defense contractors are themselves former government officials, and many government officials are themselves former defense contractor executives.  It’s that incestuous relationship that’s the real cause for concern, since the “gatekeepers” stand to profit from the industry of war, just as the defense industry profits from pro-war decisions made in the White House, Congress, and at the DoD.  Here’s just one example [ref: :]http://www.wesjones.com/business.htm]:

    [Darth] Cheney was secretary of defense when Brown & Root first began to supply logistical services to the Army. It was his idea. In 1992, the Pentagon paid Brown & Root $3.9 million to produce a classified feasibility study on private outsourcing as a way to reduce the military’s dependence on troops for basic logistics. The Pentagon subsequently added $5 million to the contract and then chose Brown & Root to implement its own plan – namely, a five-year logistics contract from the Army Corps of Engineers to work alongside G.I.‘s in places like Zaire, Haiti, Somalia, KOSOVO, the Balkans, and Saudi Arabia. After Cheney became head of Halliburton in 1995, Brown & Root took in $2.3 billion in government contracts, almost double the $1.2 billion it earned from the government in the five years before he arrived. In the late 1990s Halliburton rebuilt Saddam Hussein’s war-damaged oil fields for some $23.8 million – fields Cheney, as secretary of defense during the first Gulf war, had been instrumental in destroying.

    The issue isn’t spending big money, or a strong defense, but the potential abuse of power that might come from the absolute necessity to spend big money to maintain a strong defense.

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