Military–industrial complex


Military–industrial complex
President Dwight Eisenhower famously warned the U.S. about the "military-industrial complex" in his farewell address.

Military–industrial complex (MIC), or Military–industrial-congressional complex[1] (MICC) is a concept commonly used to refer to policy and monetary relationships between legislators, national armed forces, and the industrial sector that supports them. These relationships include political contributions, political approval for defense spending, lobbying to support bureaucracies, and beneficial legislation and oversight of the industry. It is a type of iron triangle.

The term is most often used in reference to the military of the United States, where it gained popularity after its use in the farewell address of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, though the term is applicable to any country with a similarly developed infrastructure.

The term is sometimes used more broadly to include the entire network of contracts and flows of money and resources among individuals as well as institutions of the defense contractors, The Pentagon, and the Congress and executive branch. This sector is intrinsically prone to principal-agent problem, moral hazard, and rent seeking. Cases of political corruption have also surfaced with regularity.

A similar thesis was originally expressed by Daniel Guérin, in his 1936 book Fascism and Big Business, about the fascist government support to heavy industry. It can be defined as, "an informal and changing coalition of groups with vested psychological, moral, and material interests in the continuous development and maintenance of high levels of weaponry, in preservation of colonial markets and in military-strategic conceptions of internal affairs."[2]

Contents

History

Technology has long been a part of warfare. Neolithic tools were used as weapons prior to recorded history. The bronze age and iron age saw the rise of complex industries in the manufacturing of weaponry. However, these industries also had practical peacetime applications. For example, industries making swords in times of war could make plowshares in times of peace. It was not until the late 19th to early 20th century that military weaponry became so complex as to require a large subset of industry dedicated solely to its procurement. Firearms, artillery, steamships, and later aircraft and nuclear weapons were markedly different from their ancient predecessors.

These newer, more complex weapons required highly specialized labor, knowledge and machinery to produce. The time and supporting industry necessary to construct weapon systems of increasing complexity and massive integration, made it no longer feasible to create assets only in times of war. Instead, nations dedicated portions of their economies for the full time production of war assets. The increasing reliance of military on industry gave rise to a stable partnership—the military–industrial complex.

The first modern MICs arose in Britain, France and Germany in the 1880s and 1890s as part of the increasing need to defend their respective empires both on the ground and at sea.[citation needed] The naval rivalry between Britain, Germany, and France, and their revenge sentiment against the German Empire that followed the Franco-Prussian war, was significant in the inception, growth and development of these MICs. Arguably, the existence of these three nations' respective MICs may have only fueled their military tensions.[citation needed]. Similar MICs soon followed in other nations, including Japan and the United States.[citation needed]

Admiral Jackie Fisher was influential in the shift toward faster integration of technology into military usage, resulting in strengthening relationships between the military, and innovative private companies. Noteworthy industrialists involved in the expanding arms industry of the time included Alfred Krupp, Samuel Colt, William G. Armstrong, Alfred Nobel, and Joseph Whitworth.

The term, military–industrial complex, is often used in reference of the United States, where it came into the public's general lexicon, following its introduction by President Dwight Eisenhower in his "Farewell Address". This may be attributed to the relative dollar expenditure of the United States as compared to other nations. Currently, the annual military expenditure of the United States accounts for about 47% of the world's total arms expenditures.[3] In contrast, prior to World War I, the U.S. maintained a relatively small peacetime military as compared to other nations. In times of war it relied on militia or, in later years, reserves.

Following World War I, the United States never completely demobilized. Standing forces were maintained to an even greater extent in the years that followed. World War II was influential in the change of the United States' previous historical pattern of a small peacetime military. During the Second World War, the United States underwent total mobilization of all available national resources to fight and win, alongside its allies, a total war against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. This mobilization of resources exceeded the combined history of all conflicts the nation had previously encountered. By the war's end, East Asia was gravely damaged, and Europe was devastated. The United States and the Soviet Union stood as the two remaining great powers.

Still faced with a potential threat immediately following the Second World War, the U.S. never demobilized. The two remaining powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, grew suspicious and hostile toward one another in a period known as the Cold War. This 45-year period of low-intensity, unconventional conflict between the two superpowers, overshadowed by the constant threat of a potential nuclear conflict reinforced the need for constant procurement of military goods and services including large naval, air, and land forces. Thus was born the military industrial complex in the United States.

In 1977, following the Vietnam war, U.S. President Jimmy Carter began his presidency with what historian Michael Sherry has called "a determination to break from America's militarized past."[4] However, increased defense spending in the era of President Ronald Reagan was seen by some to have brought the MIC back into prominence.

Origin of the term

Eisenhower's farewell address, January 17, 1961. Length 15:30.

President of the United States (and former General of the Army) Dwight D. Eisenhower used the term in his Farewell Address to the Nation on January 17, 1961:

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction...

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 statehouse, 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 the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.

The phrase was thought to have been "war-based" industrial complex before becoming "military" in later drafts of Eisenhower's speech, a claim passed on only by oral history.[5] Geoffrey Perret, in his biography of Eisenhower, claims that a draft of the speech the phrase was "military-industrial-congressional complex", indicating the essential role that the United States Congress plays in the propagation of the military industry, but that the third term was dropped from the final version to placate politicians.[6] James Ledbetter calls this a "stubborn misconception" not supported by any evidence; likewise a claim by Douglas Brinkley that it was originally "military-industrial-scientific complex".[6][7] Additionally, Henry Giroux claims that it was originally "military-industrial-academic complex".[8] The actual authors of the speech were Eisenhower's speechwriters Ralph E. Williams and Malcolm Moos.[9]

Attempts to conceptualize something similar to a modern "military-industrial complex" existed before Eisenhower's address. Ledbetter finds the precise term used in 1947 in close to its later meaning in an article in Foreign Affairs by Winfield W. Riefler.[6][10] In 1956, sociologist C. Wright Mills had claimed in his book The Power Elite that a class of military, business, and political leaders, driven by mutual interests, were the real leaders of the state, and were effectively beyond democratic control. Friedrich Hayek mentions in his 1944 book The Road to Serfdom the danger of a support of monopolistic organisation of industry from WWII political remnants:

Another element which after this war is likely to strengthen the tendencies in this direction will be some of the men who during the war have tasted the powers of coercive control and will find it difficult to reconcile themselves with the humbler roles they will then have to play [in peaceful times]."[11]

Vietnam War-era activists, such as Seymour Melman, referred frequently to the concept, and use continued throughout the Cold War: George F. Kennan wrote in his preface to Norman Cousins's 1987 book The Pathology of Power, "Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military-industrial complex would have to remain, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented. Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy."[12]

In the late 1990s James Kurth asserted, "[b]y the mid-1980s the term had largely fallen out of public discussion... whatever the power of arguments about the influence of the military–industrial complex on weapons procurement during the Cold War, they are much less relevant to the current era."[cite this quote]

Contemporary students and critics of American militarism continue to refer to and employ the term, however. For example, historian Chalmers Johnson uses words from the second, third, and fourth paragraphs quoted above from Eisenhower's address as an epigraph to Chapter Two ("The Roots of American Militarism") of a recent volume[13] on this subject. P. W. Singer's book concerning private military companies illustrates contemporary ways in which industry, particularly an information-based one, still interacts with the U.S. Government and the Pentagon.[14]

The expressions permanent war economy and war corporatism are related concepts that have also been used in association with this term. The term is also used to describe comparable collusion in other political entities such as the German Empire (prior to and through the first world war), Britain, France and (post-Soviet) Russia.[citation needed]

Linguist Noam Chomsky has suggested that "military-industrial complex" is a misnomer because (as he considers it) the phenomenon in question "is not specifically military."[15] He claims, "There is no military-industrial complex: it's just the industrial system operating under one or another pretext (defense was a pretext for a long time)."[16] Though this might be true, the problem is that different forms of power are extended by real, exaggerated or imagined crises, and in the state military-capitalist society, there is a hierarchy between political (state) and economic (market) power, where state capitalists have directive power in orchestrating crises.[citation needed] In other words, the power of the military machine is somewhat autonomous from corporate-sponsored politicians, and this autonomy is used to reproduce the system through a differential and superior ability to generate crises.[citation needed] Furthermore, the autonomy is supported by economic exchanges in which the military state bureaucracy extends power by producing commodities.[citation needed] The military-industrial complex thesis is part of a series of related concepts which address state military bureaucratic autonomy (from both generic capitalism and citizen control), i.e. the key issue is how military decisions are driven by alliances between the state and industry or conducted in a fashion somewhat autonomous from citizen control.[citation needed] One argument on the left attempts to normalize the military-industrial complex or war system as normally functioning capitalism[citation needed], a position debunked by Seymour Melman, among others.[17] Although, it’s difficult to assess the notion of military state bureaucracy 'autonomy' since the political institutions exhibit similar feature with respect to the public influence of policies.[citation needed]

Current applications

According to SIPRI, total world spending on military expenses in 2009 was $1.531 trillion US dollars. 46.5% of this total, roughly $712 billion US dollars, was spent by the United States.[18] The privatization of the production and invention of military technology also leads to a complicated relationship with significant research and development of many technologies.

The Military budget of the United States for the 2009 fiscal year was $515.4 billion. Adding emergency discretionary spending and supplemental spending brings the sum to $651.2 billion.[19] This does not include many military-related items that are outside of the Defense Department budget. Overall the United States government is spending about $1 trillion annually on defense-related purposes.[20]

The defense industry tends to contribute heavily to incumbent members of Congress.[21] Oliver Stone said that Néstor Kirchner, the former President of Argentina, told him former US President George W. Bush told Kirchner "The best way to revitalize the economy is war, and the U.S. has grown stronger with war."[22]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ e.g. Higgs, Robert (May 1995). "World War II and the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex". http://www.fff.org/freedom/0595d.asp. 
  2. ^ Pursell, C. (1972). The military-industrial complex. Harper & Row Publishers, New York, New York.
  3. ^ "Recent Trends in Military Expenditure". http://www.sipri.org/contents/milap/milex/mex_trends.html. 
  4. ^ Sherry, Michael S. (1995). In the Shadow of War: The United States since the 1930s. New Haven & London: Yale University Press. p.  342. ISBN 0300072635. 
  5. ^ John Milburn (December 10, 2010). "Papers shed light on Eisenhower's farewell address". Associated Press. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-12-10-eisenhower-address_N.htm. Retrieved January 28, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c Ledbetter, James (25 January 2011). "Guest Post: 50 Years of the "Military-Industrial Complex"". Schott's Vocab. New York Times. http://schott.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/25/guest-post-james-ledbetter-on-50-years-of-the-military-industrial-complex/. Retrieved 25 January 2011. 
  7. ^ Brinkley, Douglas (September 2001). "Eisenhower; His farewell speech as President inaugurated the spirit of the 1960s". American Heritage Magazine (American Heritage) 52 (6). http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/2001/6/2001_6_58.shtml. Retrieved 25 January 2011. 
  8. ^ Giroux, Henry (June 2007). "The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex". Paradigm Publishers. http://www.paradigmpublishers.com/Books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=168000. Retrieved 16 May 2011. 
  9. ^ Griffin, Charles "New Light on Eisenhower's Farewell Address," in Presidential Studies Quarterly 22 (Summer 1992): 469-479
  10. ^ Riefler, Winfield W. (October 1947). "Our Economic Contribution to Victory". Foreign Affairs 26 (1): 90–103. JSTOR 20030091. 
  11. ^ Hayek, F.A., (1976) "The Road to Serfdom," London: Routledge, p. 146, note 1
  12. ^ Kennan, George Frost (1997). At a Century's Ending: Reflections 1982-1995. W.W. Norton and Company. p. 118. http://books.google.com/books?id=60D6qQGjMdsC&pg=PA118. 
  13. ^ The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2004. p. 39
  14. ^ Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003.
  15. ^ Interviewed by David Barsamian, International Socialist Review 37 (September–October 2004)
  16. ^ In On Power, Dissent, and Racism: a Series of Discussions with Noam Chomsky, Baraka Productions, 2003.
  17. ^ Seymour Melman, Pentagon Capitalism, New York: McGraw Hill, 1970; Jonathan Michael Feldman, "From the Warfare State to the Shadow State," Social Text 25 Summer, 2009
  18. ^ Anup Shah. "World Military Spending". http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending. Retrieved October 6, 2010. 
  19. ^ Gpoaccess.gov
  20. ^ Robert Higgs. "The Trillion-Dollar Defense Budget Is Already Here". http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1941. Retrieved March 15, 2007. 
  21. ^ Defense goes all-in for incumbents
  22. ^ Rampell, Ed. "Oliver Stone". The Progressive, 74.9 (Sep 2010): 33-36.

References

  • DeGroot, Gerard J. Blighty: British Society in the Era of the Great War, 144, London & New York: Longman, 1996, ISBN 0-582-06138-5
  • Eisenhower, Dwight D. Public Papers of the Presidents, 1035-40. 1960.
  • Eisenhower, Dwight D. "Farewell Address." In The Annals of America. Vol. 18. 1961-1968: The Burdens of World Power, 1-5. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1968.
  • Eisenhower, Dwight D. President Eisenhower's Farewell Address, Wikisource.
  • Hartung, William D. "Eisenhower's Warning: The Military-Industrial Complex Forty Years Later." World Policy Journal 18, no. 1 (Spring 2001).
  • Johnson, Chalmers The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic, New York: Metropolitan Books, 2004
  • Kurth, James. "Military-Industrial Complex." In The Oxford Companion to American Military History, ed. John Whiteclay Chambers II, 440-42. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
  • Nelson, Lars-Erik. "Military-Industrial Man." In New York Review of Books 47, no. 20 (Dec. 21, 2000): 6.
  • Nieburg, H. L. In the Name of Science, Quadrangle Books, 1970
  • Mills, C. Wright."Power Elite", New York, 1956

Further reading

  • Adams, Gordon, The Iron Triangle: The Politics of Defense Contracting, 1981.
  • Andreas, Joel, Addicted to War: Why the U.S. Can't Kick Militarism, ISBN 1-904859-01-1.
  • Cochran, Thomas B., William M. Arkin, Robert S. Norris, Milton M. Hoenig, U.S. Nuclear Warhead Production Harper and Row, 1987, ISBN 0-88730-125-8
  • Colby, Gerard, DuPont Dynasty, 1984, Lyle Stuart, ISBN 0-8184-0352-7
  • Friedman, George and Meredith, The Future of War: Power, Technology and American World Dominance in the 21st Century, Crown, 1996, ISBN 0-517-70403-X
  • Hossein-Zadeh, Ismael, The Political Economy of US Militarism, Palgrave MacMillan, 2006, ISBN 978-1-4039-7285-9
  • Keller, William W., Arm in Arm: The Political Economy of the Global Arms Trade Basic Books, 1995.
  • Kelly, Brian, Adventures in Porkland: How Washington Wastes Your Money and Why They Won't Stop, Villard, 1992, ISBN 0-679-40656-5
  • McDougall, Walter A., ...The Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age, Basic Books, 1985, (Pulitzer Prize for History) ISBN 0-8018-5748-1
  • Melman, Seymour, Pentagon Capitalism: The Political Economy of War, McGraw Hill, 1970
  • Melman, Seymour, (ed.) The War Economy of the United States: Readings in Military Industry and Economy, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1971.
  • Mills, C Wright, The Power Elite,New York, 1956.
  • Mollenhoff, Clark R., The Pentagon: Politics, Profits and Plunder, GP Putnam's Sons, 1967
  • Patterson, Walter C., The Plutonium Business and the Spread of the Bomb, Sierra Club, 1984, ISBN 0-87156-837-3
  • Pasztor, Andy, When the Pentagon Was for Sale: Inside America's Biggest Defense Scandal, Scribner, 1995, ISBN 0-684-19516-X
  • Pierre, Andrew J., The Global Politics of Arms Sales, Princeton, 1982, ISBN 0-691-02207-0
  • Sampson, Anthony, The Arms Bazaar: From Lebanon to Lockheed, Bantam, 1977.
  • St. Clair, Jeffery, Grand Theft Pentagon: Tales of Corruption and Profiteering in the War on Terror , Common Courage Press (July 1, 2005).
  • Sweetman, Bill, "In search of the Pentagon's billion dollar hidden budgets - how the US keeps its R&D spending under wraps", from Jane's International Defence Review, online
  • Weinberger, Sharon. Imaginary Weapons. New York: Nation Books, 2006.

External links


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  • military-industrial complex — ☆ military industrial complex [mil′ə ter΄ēin dus′trē əl ] n. [first used by President Eisenhower in his farewell address (1961)] the U.S. military establishment and those industries producing military materiel, viewed as together exerting a… …   English World dictionary

  • Military-industrial complex — A military industrial complex (MIC) is a concept commonly used to refer to policy relationships between governments, national armed forces, and industrial support they obtain from the commercial sector in political approval for research,… …   Wikipedia

  • military-industrial complex — /mil i ter ee in dus tree euhl/ a network of a nation s military force together with all of the industries that support it. [1960 65] * * *       network of individuals and institutions involved in the production of weapons and military… …   Universalium

  • military-industrial complex — noun a country s military establishment and the industries that produce arms and other military equipment we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex Dwight David… …   Useful english dictionary

  • military-industrial complex —  The combined influence of military manufacturers and government bureaucracies.  ► President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought,… …   American business jargon

  • military-industrial complex — A term used to describe the alleged dependence of advanced capitalist economies on the marriage of economic and military political objectives during the period of the Cold War. A number of sociological studies of this phenomenon were undertaken,… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • military-industrial complex — noun a country s military establishment and those industries producing arms or other military materials, regarded as a powerful vested interest …   English new terms dictionary

  • military-industrial complex — noun Date: 1961 an informal alliance of the military and related government departments with defense industries that is held to influence government policy …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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  • military-industrial complex — noun the armed forces of a nation together with the industries that supply their weapons and materiel …   Wiktionary


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