During World War II, this nation converted its civilian manufacturing base into the creation of weapons and military equipment. However, the arms industry did not revert back to its original functions upon the war’s end; instead, it continued to grow and expand. The Cold War did much to precipitate the amount of money our government was spending on the arms race and to counter the Soviet threat. Today, the U.S. spends fifty cents out of every discretionary tax dollar on war and militarism. We spend almost as much on the military as the rest of the world combined, and we are by far the largest arms exporter in the world, accounting for 78% of such sales. Russia is in second place with 5.6%.
The term “Military Industrial Complex” was first coined by President Eisenhower in 1961 during his farewell address to the nation to describe the unprecedented American arms industry coupled with an immense military establishment. He warned us to “...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.”
When you are the largest exporter of arms in the world, and your economy is built around the weapons industry, you need to create a demand for those weapons. Weapons play the role of both “carrot” and “stick” in our foreign relations. We sell, or give arms and equipment to nations as enticement to support our policies, and we use our military to threaten and coerce support of our policies as well. Either way, it involves big money moving into the hands of the American arms industry.
Just a week ago, on October 15th, in what has been called “a big win for the defense industry,” the Obama administration moved oversight for the sale of tens of thousands of military items from the State department to the Commerce department; a move which will relax restrictions and facilitate weapons sales to virtually any country in the world.
Foreign Military “Aid”
President Kennedy signed the Foreign Assistance Act into law at the height of the Cold War in 1961 – the same year as Eisenhower’s speech. The policy states it’s intent to “promote the foreign policy, security, and general welfare of the United States by assisting peoples of the world in their efforts toward economic and social development and internal and external security.”
However, from the beginning U.S. foreign assistance programs were much more about promoting the policies and welfare of the U.S. and its corporate institutions than they were about assisting needy foreign governments.
The military aid that the U.S. “gives” to other countries comes in the way of credits which can only be used to purchase U.S. weapons systems, equipment and training. The cost of those aid credits comes directly out of the pockets of the American taxpayer and right into the bank accounts of the defense industry. The U.S. provides around $50 billion dollars in aid annually to over 150 nations, with at least $17 billion of that being military aid. Our foreign military aid programs keep the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) machine well oiled and running smoothly; with big profits for the likes of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, all courtesy of American taxpayers…
BCGP Nov 3rd meeting:
Mission Branch Library, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
3134 Roosevelt Avenue
San Antonio, TX 78214