Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Army General who engineered the D-Day invasion of Europe during World War II, was President of the United States in 1952 to 1960. This was during a period of tension between nations called the Cold War. The USA and the USSR were two great powers locked in a standoff of paranoia and an arms race.
In his presidential farewell address to the nation in January, 1961, Eisenhower stated, "In the counsels of Government, we must 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. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. 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."
Thus, the term "military industrial complex" became part of the American lexicon.
The "military industrial complex" refers to the U.S. armed forces and various components that support a strong military presence. In essence, it's a combination of the Pentagon (military procurers), corporate military contractors, the intelligence community, and their respective supporters in the U.S. Congress.
Eisenhower sounded a warning many decades ago that has basically been ignored -- the U.S. government now spends more on the military than all the rest of the countries of the world combined.
In fiscal 2012, the U.S. expenditure on Defense items (including Department of Defense, Veterans affairs, military pensions, homeland security, interest on debt incurred in past wars, etc.) is approximately $1.5 trillion -- which seems miniscule compared to the nearly $16 trillion (and rising) in National Debt.
Obviously, the USA is on a path of economic doom -- spending far more than it can afford, continually borrowing against the future, with no end in sight.
In order to exacerbate global conflict, thereby ensuring continued growth of the Military-Industrial Complex, the intelligence wing of the military industrial complex (CIA, NSA, etc.) has initiated plenty of action since 1960, including places like Vietnam, Cambodia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Bosnia, Somalia, Korea, Serbia, Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, Granada, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and so on.
There may have been valid reasons for most of these encounters, but often we have made matters worse by propping up evil dictators, such as Noriega in Panama, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and others.
Eisenhower was right. There exists a potential for unwarranted influences and the misuse of power. The military industrial complex thrives on global conflict. It feeds itself on U.S. tax dollars and contributes mightily to politicians who support it. There's too much at stake for too many people to curb its desire for profitability.
There's a fine line between being righteous defenders of global justice and belligerent warmongers. To much of the rest of the world, the USA is viewed as a domineering self-appointed police force, creating enormous global resentment.
Our country stands for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We shed blood all over the globe to ensure freedom. But we spend well beyond a reasonable defense of our nation on a military industrial complex that has an insatiable appetite for funding and a continual need for armed confrontations in order to survive.
The world is a dangerous place. We must protect ourselves, but we also need to use some common sense.
Quote for the Day -- "A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both." Dwight D. Eisenhower
Bret Burquest is the author of 8 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY, ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS and PATH TO FOURTH DENSITY (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where freedom is the right to tell people what they don't want to hear.