We're cutting back on food stamps and head start and education and medicaid, but not on our Miltary-Industrial-Complex.
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.”
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.
The “rise of misplaced power” that Eisenhower warned of is easily seen by the influence the Military Industrial Complex has on Congress and the decisions it makes about war, budgeting, and foreign policy. Defense firms spend millions lobbying Congress to protect their weapons programs from spending cuts and to promote military actions. Senators who voted in favor of a military strike against Syria received an average of 83 percent more money from the defense industry than senators who voted against the resolution.
When chemical weapons were used to kill civilians in Syria recently, the U.S. was quick to say that President Assad had violated international law. But instead of referring the case to the International Criminal Court for adjudication, the Obama administration came very close to waging war.
The United Nations charter prohibits the threat or use of force against any other country except in the event of self defense, yet in just the last 12 years the U.S. has launched two full-blown wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and we have attacked Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia with hellfire missiles launched from drones. We have used the two most recent wars to justify the use of torture, external rendition and indefinite detention, as well as multiple violations of the Geneva Conventions.
In addition to refusal to become a party to the International Criminal Court, a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes , the U.S. has also refused to sign on to the Landmine Treaty, the Cluster Munitions Treaty, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, the Convention against Torture, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Even though the Chemical Weapons Convention was ratified, the U.S. set extensive limitations on how it could be applied in the U.S., essentially gutting its provisions.
Since 1961 we have built a foreign policy through fear, intimidation, and coercion. We have ignored opportunities to join the international community and have instead shown arrogance and disregard for other nations and their peoples. We espouse support for human rights, but ignore them in the interest of corporate profits.