Ike’s Warning on Military-Industrial Complex Ignored

“We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

On April 6, 2008, I drove by the farm in Gettysburg, PA, that the late President Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower called home after he retired from public office. The old warrior, loved by the people, would easily recognized it today, since little has changed over the years. Something, however, he wouldn’t recognize in 2008, is the Military-Industrial Complex. In his prophetic “Farewell Address” of 1961, President Eisenhower warned the nation about the serious threat that its “unwarranted influence” posed to the Republic. [1] Nick Turse, in his book, “The Complex: How The Military Invades Our Everyday Lives,” describes the current situation: “Just like the fictional ‘Matrix,’ the Complex is nearly everywhere and involved in almost everything and very few people aren’t plugged into it in some way, shape or form. Above all…most people are hardly aware that this ‘REAL MATRIX’ even exist.”

Turse says that the Complex reaches “deeper into American lives…than Eisenhower could ever have imagined.” For example, in 1961, the Pentagon was spending about $23 billion per year on weapons “and other military goods. Today, that would equal about $200 billion in the budget. [But], in 2007, the Department of Defense’s stated budget was $439 billion. Counting the costs of its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the numbers jump to $600 billion. Factoring in all the many related activities carried out by other agencies, actual U.S. national security spending is NEARLY $1 TRILLION PER YEAR.”

In 1970, there were about 22,000 prime contractors doing business with the U.S. department of Defense (DoD). In 2008, Turse writes: “The number of prime contractors tops 47,000 with subcontractors reaching WELL OVER THE 100,000 MARK, making for ONE MASSIVE CONGLOMERATE touching nearly every sector of society.” The heavy hitters, in 1961, at the Pentagon-feeding trough are still at it, although some of their monikers have changed via mergers over the years. Names like: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamic, General Electric and United Technologies are regularly at the front of the mega billion dollars’ receiving line. [2] Also from 2000 to 2006, Lockheed Martin took in $135.4 billion from the Pentagon,” in addition to lucrative deals with other departments, like Homeland Security. One military expert, Peter Singer, suggests that huge outfits, like Lockheed Martin, aren’t really companies, they’re “QUASI AGENCIES!”

This is the same Lockheed Martin which also makes cluster bombs. OVER ONE MILLION of them were dropped on Lebanon by the Israeli Defense Forces, in the summer of 2006. [3] Israel was accused by Human Rights groups with “violating the laws of war” for its reckless use of such a horrible weapon. [4]

This brings me to the classic “Iron Triangle”–the Congress, the Pentagon and the big military contractors. Like the ultra defense contractors that I’ve mentioned above, there are many others, too, near the top of the rankings that have familiar names, such as Halliburton [think V.P. Dick Cheney], the Bechtel Corporation and Raytheon. The author says that all of these companies have formed “the essential core of the military-industrial complex. Some of the firms still reign supreme as the primary weapons-producing ‘merchants of death.’ But, huge arms dealers are now ‘only’ a portion of any Pentagon contractors.” Mr. Turse cited other industries, as varied as the sports world, food, security, oil, academia, high tech, mercenaries, surveillance, Hollywood, the media and computers, with now forming in differing degrees, “the bulk of the Complex, turning the iron triangle into a collection of iron myriagons–ten-thousand-sided polygons.”

On dealing with the U.S. Congress, Lockheed Martin, like the other big defense contractors, knows how to play that game, too. Turse reveals: “Lockheed spent more than $59 million on campaign contributions and lobbying between 2000 and 2006.” Mr. Turse listed “the ten senators who received the most moneys from defense contractors in the 2006 election.” Up at the top were, (no surprise here), “Hillary ‘Neocon-Lite’ Clinton of New York…and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who collected ’60 percent of the $1.4 million’ the industry lavished on the top ten.” Both Clinton and “Turncoat Joe” Lieberman voted for the Iraq War, while the daffy Lieberman wants the U.S. to also attack Iran.

Incidentally, a news report just out, based on a study, shows that members of the Congress have “nearly $200 million invested in companies doing defense-related work.” Leading the pack is Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). He has $38.2 MILLION Invested! Sen. Lieberman’s slice of the investment pie is much smaller than Kerry’s. His stocks only added up to $51,000. Nevertheless, he is by far the most virulent War Hawk in the U.S. Congress. [5]

Then, there is that perpetual “revolving door” problem. At the end of the Eisenhower era, author Nick Turse explains: “726 former top ranking military officers were employed by the country’s 100 leading defense contractors.” Relying on a report from the “Project on Government Oversight,” Mr. Turse writes: “Between 1997 and May 2004, at least 224 senior government officials had taken top positions with the twenty largest military contractors. Lockheed headed the list with thirty-five lobbyists, sixteen executives, and six directors or board members–a total of fifty-seven former senior government officials who had crossed to the other side…V.P. Dick Cheney’s son-in-law, Philip J. Perry, was a registered Lockheed lobbyist; and CHENEY’S WIFE, LYNNE, had served, until 2001, on Lockheed Martin’s board of directors.”

When you wonder exactly how the Bush-Cheney Gang got the country involved in the immoral Iraq conflict and into this “War Without End,” then remember the enormous influence of the Complex. [6] Also, keep in mind that “over 40 percent of every income tax dollar” goes to the military, while education receives just “four percent.” [7] I submit that only when the people fully awaken from their long TV-induced slumber can they change this alarming situation and restore the Republic. To do the latter, however, they must become conscious of the fact that they are the spiritual heirs of Washington, Adams and Jefferson, and not soulless pawns of “the Complex.”

I leave the final words on the subject of the Military-Industrial Complex to the author Turse. I congratulate him on his tome and for his cogent writing style and excellent analytical skills. He concludes: “For most Americans…the Complex is a powerful engine that helps drive our world, a vast system of systems, a Matrix, hidden in plain sight. The Complex thrives on the very obliviousness of the civilian population to its existence in the world it has made so much its own. But, if you look closely, it can suddenly come into focus and be seen almost everywhere.”


[1]. http://www.hbci.com/~tgort/ike.htm

[2]. http://www.militaryindustrialcomplex.com/

[3]. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/

[4]. http://www.hrw.org/doc/?t=arms_clusterbombs

[5]. For background matter on this subject, check out:

[6]. http://www.americanchronicle.com/

[7]. http://www.nationalpriorities.org/