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Mon Nov 5, 2012, 02:47 PM

The Permanent Militarization of America

IN 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower left office warning of the growing power of the military-industrial complex in American life. Most people know the term the president popularized, but few remember his argument.

In his farewell address, Eisenhower called for a better equilibrium between military and domestic affairs in our economy, politics and culture. He worried that the defense industry’s search for profits would warp foreign policy and, conversely, that too much state control of the private sector would cause economic stagnation. He warned that unending preparations for war were incongruous with the nation’s history. He cautioned that war and warmaking took up too large a proportion of national life, with grave ramifications for our spiritual health.

The military-industrial complex has not emerged in quite the way Eisenhower envisioned. The United States spends an enormous sum on defense — over $700 billion last year, about half of all military spending in the world — but in terms of our total economy, it has steadily declined to less than 5 percent of gross domestic product from 14 percent in 1953. Defense-related research has not produced an ossified garrison state; in fact, it has yielded a host of beneficial technologies, from the Internet to civilian nuclear power to GPS navigation. The United States has an enormous armaments industry, but it has not hampered employment and economic growth. In fact, Congress’s favorite argument against reducing defense spending is the job loss such cuts would entail.

Nor has the private sector infected foreign policy in the way that Eisenhower warned. Foreign policy has become increasingly reliant on military solutions since World War II, but we are a long way from the Marines’ repeated occupations of Haiti, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic in the early 20th century, when commercial interests influenced military action. Of all the criticisms of the 2003 Iraq war, the idea that it was done to somehow magically decrease the cost of oil is the least credible. Though it’s true that mercenaries and contractors have exploited the wars of the past decade, hard decisions about the use of military force are made today much as they were in Eisenhower’s day: by the president, advised by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Security Council, and then more or less rubber-stamped by Congress. Corporations do not get a vote, at least not yet.


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groovedaddy Nov 2012 OP
Historic NY Nov 2012 #1

Response to groovedaddy (Original post)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 03:01 PM

1. Add to that the police forces of various communities...

the have all taken cues and purchased the clothing the weapons. They have developed a "us vs them" mentality. They were seen to have become a defensive force after 911. Many locations gots infusion of gear all from the military or designed for their use. Someplaces look like they have armies rather than servants of the people on the streets. The crisp tailor uniform and ties have given way to worn BDU or other military like clothing that was once used for specific details or assiginments. The problem is many of them now gear up for war against the community they were supposed to protect and servce. I'm not saying there aren't specific reasons for some tactics but what, was once a case by case mobilization has now become 24/7.

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