Ease up on defensive spending, bring back liberty

Andy Slaven

Former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower gave one of the most notorious farewell speeches in 1961 in which he highlighted the growing military-industrial complex in the United States.

Eisenhower, a five-star general during WWII, saw the dangers of massive military spending, especially deficit spending and government contracts with private military manufacturers. In his final address, he warned, “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

He added, “the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist” and that, “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.”

During his presidential term, Eisenhower ended the Korean War and kept the nation out of many other conflicts. Unfortunately, his successors did not do the same.

He also warned of what was to come if we did not step out of the patterns he saw developing within our country. However, since the end of his presidency, the U.S. has continued unnecessary massive military spending and has essentially been, in some aspects, stuck in perpetual war.

Arguably, America’s need for aggression has furthered our persistent military intervention in foreign affairs, resulted in the death of millions and forced the country into a massive debt. All the while, this was only promoting the economic benefit of some several hundred private companies.

The “agreement” between the military and the private sector is beneficial for both sides. The military receives the necessary tools to promote political interests abroad and to fight unwarranted wars, while private companies receive billions of dollars in contracts, paid for with an unlimited supply of deficit pending.

It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved except for the average citizen who sees their tax dollars vanish, the innocent civilians in the Middle East and future generations who will face the problem of an endless deficit.

In the past, the military-industrial complex was defined as an arms race, where nations would challenge each other for the best defense systems. An example would be how during the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were attempting to assert military dominance over one another by buying up as many weapons as possible in a huge international arms race.

However, the modern conception of the military-industrial complex has been contextually shifted slightly. We are no longer in an arms race but instead trying to promote our interests through displays of force on other nations. The enemy is now basically any group or organization that does not agree with our interests.

Our interests in the Middle East, where we aim to keep the stability of oil prices, are solely based on our economic need for resources. Therefore, we see countless groups arise such as al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or most recently ISIL as a result of our actions in their homeland.Since 2006, the company making the most money off defense spending is the Lockheed Martin Corporation. In the last decade, they have made $268.5 billion from government spending alone.

In 2008 they made $36 billion in government contracts, which is more than any company in history. Behind Lockheed Martin are other entities such as the Northrop Grumman Corporation, Boeing and Raytheon Company. In 2016 already, the U.S. has used nearly $54 billion on defense spending. With this amount of income going to the corporations it becomes obvious why the U.S. still involves itself in wars like Vietnam or the Iraq War, though history shows they are repeated mistakes. These companies are offered billions of dollars to create tools for military use in order to keep oil prices stable and therefore, the same organizations dictate American policy.

Through propaganda techniques, the majority of Americans are swayed to hate every group that steps up against us. The “machines” running our government are forcing the idea of imminent terrorism through mainstream media, convincing people to continue to support unethical  military action overseas. It’s a constant cycle that will ultimately never end as long as the public is gripped by fear.

Eisenhower tried to warn us, but sadly the giant sums of money drowned his voice. Here we are some 55 years later watching our deficit grow into the trillions as our country pulverizes the Middle East while simultaneously justifying actions to the masses with terrorism propaganda. Huge corporations sit on their thrones too poisoned with greed to look up at the destruction they’ve caused but we, the people, still support the military-industrial complex in the U.S. We’re told it’s what makes us safe from terrorism, however, the greatest threat to our country lies buried in the deep pockets of those behind the military-industrial complex.