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Eisenhower and the Military Industrial Complex

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On January 17, 1961, President Eisenhower gave his farewell address to the United States after a long eight years of domestic militarization, which occurred much to his distaste. Eisenhower implied that the epic proportions of the United States military had exceeded such a size that it became central to US identity and warned of the “grave implications” that could result from this astonishing development. It was in this very speech that Eisenhower first claimed the phrase “military-industrial complex” (MIC) in reference to the unsavory relationship between military establishment and the large arms industry. This phrase can now be defined by Webster as “An informal alliance of the military and related government departments with defense industries that is held to influence government policy.” More than fifty years later, Eisenhower’s chilling worlds still hold a strong sense of relevance while the military-industrial complex in the United States has grown alongside the quickly changing environment of corporate America.

The simple answer to why we fight is patriotism, but there is a much more complicated and more correct answer. A major contributing factor to why we fight is the relationship between economics and politics which influences the raw power of the military-industrial complex. According to the BBC documentary, Why We Fight, the MIC is composed of military professionals, the defense industry, the United States Congress, and think tanks.

The military professionals component is the most portrayed and probably the first thought that comes to mind when someone is asked to think about the war in general. In the war on Iraq, the military professionals are all the men and women serving in the military under the guiding hand of President George W. Bush. Defense industries are American owned companies that make massive profits from the US military’s seemingly endless cash flow. It is no secret that US involvement in war will spike the revenue of these companies. Many members of Congress are very dependent on companies in the defense industry because the industry may promise jobs in their district. The loss of a handful of jobs will result in the loss of many votes for the Congressman or woman. Think tanks are now considered to play a major role in MIC relations because many new thoughts and ideas about what should form foreign policy come from privatized think tanks such as the Project for the New American Century rather than the government. Think tanks essentially provide the intellectual framework for the entire make-up of the MIC.

The Boeing Company is an American S&P 500 corporation that is best known for their production of airplanes. Many of these planes, along with countless other elements of weaponry, are being produced in the United States to fuel the militaristic needs of the nation. For every man and woman in the military on the ground using Boeing technologies to take lives, there are hundreds of employees left at home who support their efforts by producing the technologies. Congress is also influenced

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