The coterie of organizations which would benefit most directly from the United States' keeping of a big, expensive military. Their understood common purpose, not surprisingly, is therefore to maintain (or enhance) the role of the military in public life. At a minimum, this includes all of the defense contractors in North America

This term was coined by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his farewell address in 1960.

A term first used by President Eisenhower in his 1961 farewell speech (aka "President Eisenhower's 'Military-Industrial Complex' Speech"):

When the economy is based upon a state of war, we are forever looking to sustain that economy by staying in a war. Military involvement throughout the world may sustain the economy, but it means that our very livelihood is based upon the murder of millions world-wide. For instance, much of General Electric's profits come from nuclear power plants (as well as media outlets NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC). This can easily be converted to creating nuclear weapons--particularly if the new Star Wars project goes through.

The economy is no longer based upon the capitalism of supply and demand, but upon a buildup of military might. Your paycheck, under this system, is based upon the death of others. Feels good, huh? Though military spending by the Federal government went down in the Clinton era, it went up in the "private" sector. However, there is no private sector in this age of corporate welfare--most huge corporations are subsidized by the federal government. The military and corporate industry are united in a death machine.

Between 1990 and 1997, our country exported $7 billion worth surplus arms. We "discourage" other countries to build their arms so that we can supply them ourselves.

As the Cape Cod Times stated on November 14, 2000: "As of Sept. 30, 1997, according to the Federation of American Scientists Arms Sales Monitoring Project, 1,700 F-16s had been sold to 19 countries, including Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, South Korea, Morocco, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Thailand, Turkey and Venezuela.

For more fun stuff, see New Feudalism.
By the way, this is also a Husker Du song.

Some would debate whether this is an idea or a thing. A thing should exist, although fictional people have been noded as people on everything2. Some would say this is only an idea. Yet certain facts and phenomena don't seem to be debated, only how important they are and whether they should be grouped together under a label.

The fact that companies which profit from defense spending tend to contribute more to the campaigns of politicians who vote to spend more on defense is almost too obvious to be worth mentioning. Of course other organizations contribute more to congressmen who oppose certain items of defense spending, but on the whole the spending of the industry dwarfs the budget of it's opponents. Of course this money can only be used for reelection purposes - it doesn't benefit the candidate directly, unless they hire their spouses and children or get some other kind of indirect benefit. Legislators who vote for larger defense budgets are also often offered highly paid jobs by large defense companies after they are voted out of office.

Still there is debate as to whether there is really a military industrial complex. Even those who are not worried these companies have influenced our foreign policy sometimes wonder if the alleged military industrial complex has contributed to cost overruns and wasted money. I have never heard any of the facts in the previous paragraph debated. I can't even recall hearing anyone argue directly that they are not relevant, I have only heard it implied indirectly by not discussing them and ignoring those who do so.

The idea that a symbiotic relationship exists between the American military and the private, commercial industry which produces its weapons was for years a popular liberal explanation for the machinations of foreign policy. Republican presidents, like Ronald Reagan, were accused of determining America's international behavior by calculating which course of action would benefit companies like Lockheed-Martin most. The profits generated by America's involvement in wars and arms races, the theory posits, were then funneled into the pockets of policy-makers, thus perpetuating the relationship.

Whatever the idea's allure as an X-Files caliber conspiracy theory, it is utterly untenable, factually and conceptually; even if there weren't overwhelming documentary evidence demonstrating that foreign policy is determined by a mixture of pragmatic power politics and idealism, as well as by internal popular pressure, there would still remain the fact that, economically, war is not profitable; for every post-WWII booms, there are post-WWI depressions. In addition, America spends fairly consistently on defense, and the companies producing tanks, planes, ships, guns, and so on are not struggling for profitability.

The sort of reductive logic responsible for this theory, which suggests that there are fat-cat white men who think nothing of starting a war to make extra money (the lynchpin of conspiracy theory, and not true), has also produced the more contemporary, and quite popular fantasy of a Prison-Industrial Complex.

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