Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Influence of the Military Industrial Complex; Concern or Not?

Eisenhower farewell address was controversial for it's time making the covers of papers (1.)

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex (2.) Dwight D. Eisenhower
     Upon leaving the office of the presidency many of our presidents have given farewell addresses.  Most of these speeches are generally reminiscent and for the most part ignored.  The exception to this rule is the farewell address that President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave when leaving office on January 17th 1961.  The former Supreme commander of Allied forces during World War II and then U.S president from 1953 till 1961 warned about a new possible threat to American liberties, the military industrial complex.  The military industrial complex is something that got its start during World War II and has been in place ever since.  Before World War II, when the United States had entered war, manufactures transitioned from whatever they were producing to armaments; an example of this would be an automobile producer that starts making tanks and planes.  After World War II the Cold War started and armaments were produced constantly in the United States.  Soon the production of these weapons became a large part of the American economy and the government’s budget.  Eisenhower warned upon leaving office that letting this industry become too powerful and too influential in American politics could affect our freedoms down the road.
     Some American’s view today’s military industrial complex as the dark, shadowy force that Eisenhower warned of, some American’s view this as paranoia predominately from the left, and even some are indifferent to the whole situation.  The question this essay attempts to ask is which of these views are true?
     The problem with questions such as these as with other conspiracy theories is that it is hard to tell when the line of fact and fiction has been crossed.  According to Dr. Andrew Feight of Shawnee State University:

“When a conspiracy theory becomes a conspiracy theory is when people start to try connecting the dots.  When we take the dots and start connecting them, sometimes it’s a valid connection, sometimes it isn’t (3.)”
     Using this approach lets analyze what is fact and what is fiction.  Defense spending in 2009 as figured by War Resisters League made up approximately 54% not including entitlement programs and 20% including these programs (4.)  The following pie charts represent both of these calculations and a link has been provided to their website for the reader to ascertain all the information this organization lists. 

Above:  This chart shows the percentage of the annual budget that goes towards Defense spending including entitlements.

Above:  The annual budget not including entitlement programs.

Now whether to consider entitlements part of the budget or not is an essay in and of itself so for simplicities sake I believe it is easier just to look at the conservative estimates for now.  My hypothesis is that if conservative estimates seem high in regards to expense towards the American tax payer than the actual cost must be far worse.

The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation released a report in 2009 showing the growth in defense spending from 2000 till 2009.  In the nine years covered by this report defense spending increased by $300 billion or an increase of 39% which averages out to about $16 billion a year(5.)  The following is a chart they provided showing the results of their findings and a link to their website:

Above:  The chart above shows the increase in Defense spending over from 2000 till 2009.

These numbers were adjusted for inflation and taken from the U.S Dept. of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget, U.S Congress.  Considering that these sources would logically give a conservative to accurate estimate, I would conclude that military spending in this nation is an issue.

In conclusion, I think the military industrial complex is taking advantage of the American people and their government, but I also feel that it is not too late to correct this.  In this time of economic crisis cuts need to be made to our defense spending in a substantial way.  My biggest fear of cutting the budget of the military is that it seems that when we do cut their budget the military industrial complex suffers nowhere near the level of veterans who get their benefits cut.  Making cuts to veteran’s benefits is not right, nor is it the solution to the greater problem.  We cannot afford to cut military spending out completely but we can definitely afforded to make some cuts to our new armament expenditures.

The following is a link to President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell address:

Works Cited

1.      Steyn, Mark. Steynian435.wordpress.com. Blog at WordPress.com, 26 Jan. 2011. Web. <http://steynian.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/steynian-435/>.

2.      Eisenhower, Dwight D. "Farwell Address to the Nation." 1961 Presidential Farwell Address. White House, Washington D.C. 17 Jan. 1961. Speech.

3.      Feight, Andrew. "Lecture on Paranoia." Class Lecture. Massie Hall, Portsmouth, Ohio. 7 July 2012. Lecture.

4.      "The Federal Pie Chart." War Resisters League. Web. 13 July 2011. <http://www.warresisters.org/pages/piechart.htm>.

5.      "Growth in U.S. Defense Spending Over the Last Decade." Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Web. 13 July 2011. <http://armscontrolcenter.org/policy/securityspending/articles/022609_fy10_topline_growth_decade/>.

6.      "YouTube - Eisenhower Warns Us of the Military Industrial Complex.." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Web. 13 July 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y06NSBBRtY>.

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