American Samizdat

Wednesday, February 21, 2007. *

The insurmountable, fatal "enemy", the obstacle to "victory", in waging peace against war, is the degree to which militarism is an accepted fact of American society and culture. Yes, "accepted". Militarism is ubiquitous and monolithic, the ultimate given.

Before Eisenhower warned us about the MIA (military-industrial-academic) complex as he was leaving office, the MIA had dug its tentacles into every facet of American life. I'm sure that Lockheed, FMC, GE, Martin-Marietta, General Dynamics, Boeing, Raytheon, TRW, SAIC, Halliburton, Carlyle, Bechtel, and the rest just chuckled up their sleeves at the speech. Too late.

Interestingly enough, the draft farewell speech Eisenhower gave in February of 1961 said "military-industrial-congressional" complex. I have seen lately that many refer to the "military-industrial-academic complex. I would add the term "media" to the mix, and/or "media-entertainment-pharmaceutical-health care-prison-security-surveillance-think-tank" complex. You get the picture, I'm sure.

If you want to get a migraine, read the Wikipedia/Source Watch piece here. Some excerpts:

The military-industrial complex is generally defined as a "coalition consisting of the military and industrialists who profit by manufacturing arms and selling them to the government." (War profiteering) Eisenhower related, however, that until World War II, the United States did not have an armaments industry. Even though "American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well," the United States could "no longer risk emergency improvisation" of the country's national defense.

The United States, he continues, had been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. At that time, the U.S. was annually spending more on military security "than the net income of all United States corporations." This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry, he said, was "new in the American experience" and that there was an imperative need for this development . . .

Writing for the March 2003 issue of Business2.0, Ian Mount, David H. Freedman, and Matthew Maier address what is now called the New military-industrial complex. As anyone who has been following the current war in Iraq is well aware, "the nature of the battle" is "unlike anything the world has ever known." Afghanistan, the writers say, "provided a glimpse of the latest generation of high-tech weaponry, but it was only a glimpse. A major assault by combined American forces will provide a full demonstration of the military's new doctrine of faster, lighter, smarter warfare -- combat in which cutting-edge technology becomes U.S. troops' deadliest weapon. The Pentagon calls this new doctrine RMA, for revolution in military affairs, and it's made possible not just by fresh thinking in the Pentagon but also by a subtle shift in the ranks of U.S. defense contractors. In building its new high-tech arsenal, the United States has also created a new military-industrial complex." . . .

"When it comes to military spending, the tradition of the iron triangle—Congress, the Pentagon, and defense industries—joining to push costly weaponry is nothing new." In his speech, Eisenhower said that "The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." . . .
A few years ago Mother Jones/MOJOwire, in "US Arms Sales", noted:
Arms Around the World

It was the early 1990s and then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton was on the campaign trail making promises: "I expect to review our arms sales policy and to take it up with the other major arms sellers of the world as a part of a long-term effort to reduce the proliferation of weapons."

Ah, campaign promises. But the economy was in the doldrums, and the prospect of cutting arms sales -- sugar daddy to one of the nation's largest industries -- didn't thrill either labor or corporate America. What's more, the Gulf War had just ended the previous year, and it was the best extended commercial an arms salesman could ask for. (Indeed, some arms manufacturers incorporated bombing videos into their promotional materials.) Countries were clamoring for the high-tech weapons that made for such good TV.

So, once elected, Bill Clinton did what he does best: He took advantage of the opportunity. Rather than insert human-rights concerns into the arms-sales equation, as did his Democratic predecessor President Carter, Clinton decided to aggressively continue the sales policies of President Bush, himself no slouch when it came to selling U.S. arms . . .

Early on, Clinton required our diplomats to shill for arms merchants to their host countries. The results were immediate: During Clinton's first year in office, U.S. arms sales more than doubled. From 1993 to 1997, the U.S. government sold, approved, or gave away $190 billion in weapons to virtually every nation on earth.

The arms industry, meanwhile, has greased the wheels. It filled the Democratic Party coffers to the tune of nearly $2 million in the 1998 election cycle.

To examine the Clinton administration's eagerness to arm the world, the MoJo Wire has compiled a detailed look at America's top weapons customers during the Clinton years, tallying their total 1993-97 purchases through both the Pentagon (so-called "Foreign Military Sales," or FMS) and U.S. manufacturers ("Direct Commercial Sales," or DCS).

What we found is that while the U.S. obviously sells weapons to NATO countries and relatively "democratic" allies like Japan and South Korea, it also has a nasty habit of arming both sides in a conflict, as well as countries with blighted democracy or human-rights records, like Indonesia, Colombia, and Saudi Arabia . . .
In 1999, the Arms Control Association stated that the Pentagon sold some $13 billion dollars worth of arms globally.

This gets very complex - the stats and configuration of the matrix are way over my head. But trying to think about it quietly, I figure . . .

  • American citizens pay megabucks to their government

  • somewheres around half of this money goes to "defense" (DOD/Pentagon)

  • a sizable chunk of this is paid by the Pentagon to arms manufacturers

  • arms manufacturers make and sell weapons of all sorts not only to the US government, but also to everyone else, including states and groups who are sworn to eliminate the US

  • DOD/Pentagon also sells weapons, at a profit, to foreign entities, also often regardless of their alliances

I humbly admit that I know I'm missing something in this matrix. Maybe uggabugga has a chart on it somewhere.

Of course, arms sales may be only the tip of the iceberg. I mentioned recently that the US government maintains in the order of 800 military bases around the globe. Most of these were established in the twenty or so years after WWII in the "cold war" against the "expansionist" USSR. It was widely thought that the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1989 would occasion the significant reduction of US force abroad and the transfer of these bases to the host countries or their outright closure.

But, at the risk of insulting your intelligence, I point out that the MIA had become a major pillar of the US economic system. Objectively, this means that a drawdown might precipitate an economic calamity. The threat of a base closure either domestically or on foreign soil is always met by loud protests that the local economy absolutely depends on the base and will be devastated by its disappearance.

I live in a state which has eight military bases. Several of these bases house personnel, vehicles, weapons, and other materials critical to the government's wars in Afghanistan and against Iraq (and, of course, the imminent wars in several other places). The recent base realignment effort scared the hell out of the state and the local communities which depended on these bases for employment.

Note well that the employment I refer to here includes not only people who work on the bases, but the restaurants, hotels, bars, auto dealers and maintenance businesses, schools, retail stores realtors/landlords, tailors, laundromats, gas stations, and so forth, but also military surplus stores, bars, nightclubs, strip joints, tattoo parlors, drug dealers, and prostitutes. Shutting down Fort Bragg in North Carolina would do more damage to Fayetteville, NC and the 400 square mile perimeter than a direct "Jericho" strike.

For example, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of North Carolina tax and local lobbyist dollars were spent in blunting North Carolina base closures. The senior Senator, Libby Dole, a staunch Republican conservative, ensured her reelection in 2008 to a second six-year term (as did the junior Senator Richard Burr) by tirelessly reducing the potential harm of base realignment to nothing more than a mosquito bite for the state. Extend this same situation to tens of other states, hundreds of localities, thousands of citizens throughout the country. Extend it further to the eight or so hundreds of military bases around the world and the communities dependent on them.

So, the evil conundrum: we can't abandon militarism without destroying the livelihood of millions; we can't "wage peace" unless and until we eliminate militarism, for without doing so we endanger the same millions of lives through the perpetration of endless blowback, terrorism, and major wars.

Although Americans are only now beginning to see this situation as a form of international slavery, there is much evidence and data for mass education.

Radical Left, 2/7/2007, "The Size of America's Defense Budget Is Obscene":
Totaling US$623bn, it is an obscene amount. It's not only the largest defence budget in the world, but nearly all other national defence budgets combined and larger than most overall national budgets, including those of the developed world . . .
Vanity Fair, March, 2007, "Washington's $8 Billion Shadow":
Mega-contractors such as Halliburton and Bechtel supply the government with brawn. But the biggest, most powerful of the "body shops"—SAIC, which employs 44,000 people and took in $8 billion last year—sells brainpower, including a lot of the "expertise" behind the Iraq war . . .

Unlike traditional wars, which eventually come to an end, the Global War on Terror as defined by the Bush administration can have no end: it is a permanent war—the perfect war for a company that has become an essential component of the permanent government. Political change causes scarcely a ripple. As one former SAIC manager observed in a recent blog posting: "My observation is that the impact of national elections on the business climate for SAIC has been minimal. The emphasis on where federal spending occurs usually shifts, but total federal spending never decreases. SAIC has always continued to grow despite changes in the political leadership in Washington."

And the revolving door never stops spinning. One of the biggest contracts ever for SAIC is in the works right now. It's for a Pentagon program called Future Combat Systems, which is described as "a complex plan to turn the U.S. Army into a lighter, more lethal, more mobile force" and also as "the most difficult integration program ever undertaken by the U.S. Department of Defense." The contract runs into the billions of dollars. The man who helped craft this program at the Pentagon was Lieutenant General Daniel R. Zanini. Zanini recently retired from the army, and he now has a new job. Can you guess where it might be?
While there was, to be sure, much cause (or at least probable cause), for celebration at the Soviet Union's demise, in fact you couldn't find many happy faces at the Pentagon or in the boardrooms of arms manufacturers and military contractors in the US. They can't make money without wars, and you can't make wars without enemies. What to do, what to do? Why, make new enemies and make new wars, of course.

Therefore, Yugoslavia and the rest of the Balkans; Afghanistan and Iraq; Iran and Syria and Lebanon. Whoever, whatever is next.

Whew!! Dodged a bullet!!

(Part 1 of this series is here. Part 2 is here. Part 4 will delve into the yet emerging monster of PMFs.)
posted by Unknown at 10:42 AM
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