What is the Military-Industrial Complex?

posted Jul 1, 2011, 2:55 PM by Take Back Country   [ updated Jul 5, 2011, 3:45 AM ]

The Military-Industrial Complex is a phrase used to signify a comfortable relationship between parties that are charged to manage wars (the military, the presidential administration and congress) and companies that produce weapons and equipment for war (industry). To put it simply, the Military-Industrial Complex is described as an all-too friendly relationship that may develop between defense contractors and government forces, where both sides receive what they are perceivably looking for: a successful military engagement for warplanners and financial profit for those manning the corporate boardrooms. It can be viewed as a “war for profit” theory.

The idea of war for profit is nothing new in the realm of human history and can be traced back centuries earlier where arms races and the power of navy ships ruled an empire’s reach. The arms race between the European powers of France, Spain and Britain could arguably be a primal version of today’s modern so-called military-industrial complex.  The idea was that a country must build up and maintain a ready military - the largest in the world at that - to remain a world power.  Centuries ago, such a military was necessitated to protect aggression from neighboring countries.  These days, an invasion of the American homeland may seem ridiculous and contrary to the building of a global community founded in trust and respect. Others might argue differently.

In any case, the theory of a mutually beneficial relationship may not appear to be so far-fetched. It is no secret that the defense industry profits most when a nation commits to a lengthy war overseas. As any military will spare no expense for victory, it only makes sense to tap the resources of the defense industry to accomplish the mission. A sort of pseudo-world dominance through the basic form of imperialism can be seen to be just as important to a military force as is protecting one's homeland.  The bottom line: war is good business for those invested in it - manufacturing, production, servicing, etc..  To the war-minded industry, a wartime economy is just as profitable as a solid growing one, where shells and ammunition take precedence over the production of peacetime light bulbs or pencils. One need only to peruse the list of manufacturers participating in production during the Second World War to see just how a wartime economy can alter a single factory.

The phrase Military-Industrial Complex was first utilized in an American report at the turn of the 20th Century. “Military-Industrial Complex” was later immortalized by outgoing United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation. In his speech, he cites the Military-Industrial Complex as a warning to the American people – to not let this establishment begin to dictate America’s actions at home or abroad. The original usage appeared in the form of Military-Industrial Congressional Complex but later removed.

This website exists to keep a record and tally of information that is publicly released by the United States Department of Defense. We do not claim that it is 100% accurate, as all information is never divulged from any one government source, yet it does cause one to ponder the issue. If you do believe in the Military-Industrial Complex, the sheer significance of such a relationship between our government and business is overwhelming.