In 1961 President Eisenhower warned against what he called the ‘military-industrial complex’ in his final address to the American people. He was referring to an ‘all too friendly’ relationship which had emerged over the war years between the military, defence contractors and Congress. He warned of unwarranted influence and what he termed as the ‘disastrous rise of misplaced power’ . He felt strongly that this alliance was a serious threat and that it had grave implications not only for the American people, but for the structure of society. He has been proved right.
Despite Eisenhower’s warning, the industrial-military complex is alive and well. What effect it has had on American foreign policy since 1961, on the number of young Americans who have been sacrificed for personal ambition and profit or even the part it played in the winning of the Cold War is open to argument.
Today, the uncomfortable reality is that the military-industrial complex is bankrupting the US. This year the US will need to borrow $14 trillion, and it is heading for a deficit of $1 trillion. Military spending in 2011 will top $4 trillion. This is an unsustainable level of spend.
Right now President Obama is fighting hard to get Congress to approve a tax rise for wealthy Americans to save the day. With the current balance of power in Congress he is unlikely to succeed.
The bottom line is that US defence spending needs to be halved. The US couldn’t afford Iraq and it can’t afford Afghanistan. The days of war for profit are over. There has to be change. Unfortunately, the military-industrial complex is well established. Obama may find it an impossible nut to crack.