In the councils 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.
(Dwight Eisenhower, January 1961)
If you haven't had the chance yet to see the outstanding documentary film by Eugene Jarecki, Why We Fight, figure out a way to see it ASAP. Jarecki chronicles the build up of America's military industrial complex (a favorite term used by liberals but coined by Republican President Dwight Eisenhower in his famous 1961 Farewell Address) and how it has slowly been pulling the foundations of our constitutional democracy out from underneath us.
Jarecki shows us through a series of in depth interviews with former Pentagon officials, politicians, journalists and public policy analysts the clever ways in which the MIC is triumphing over the principles of democracy by 1) making every single state in the nation dependent on it and 2) weaving it into the symbols of our national heritage.
Because every state now has a stake in the MIC, even liberal congressional representatives are put in positions where they have to choose between cutting MIC jobs in their states or continuing the MIC pork they receive. In Oregon, of course, we saw what happened when we were threatened with proposed cuts to the local Air National Guard. Our state's most liberal progressive representative, Earl Blumenaur, led the fight against the cuts. And if representatives like Blumenaur supported cuts to the MIC, they would be labeled as unpatriotic, un-American, weak, unwilling to defend freedom and protect American jobs.
Just across the border in Washington state (a large stake holder in the MIC with Boeing in its midst) many Congressional representatives with Ds next to their names are the first to fight for increased spending for large defense contracts from the Pentagon, even though the fruits of those contracts yield defense products that are not necessary or are no longer relevant in today's world.
One might argue that these contracts provide our region with good jobs, and therefore we have no choice but to support our representatives in their quest to bring more MIC jobs to the Northwest. But isn't that a false choice? As Dwight Eisenhower so aptly alludes to in his famous MIC speech, when we over invest on the MIC, we fail to tend to the health and general welfare of our citizens and the democracy of which we are a part:
As we peer into society's future, we-you and I, and our government-must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.
Jareck gracefully weaves Eisenhower's speech throughout the entire movie, leaving viewers astounded and befuddled at how Eisenhower's powerful warning has gone completely ignored by every single President and Congress since, no matter what letter, a D or R, sits next to their names. Although Jareck demonstrates in Why We Fight, how this happened, you can't help but ask yourself as you walk out of the film, "How did this happen?"