In a thread on Wednesday some of us were discussing empire and the cost of the U.S. military. Commenter D.I.D. offered some valuable insight into how it got to where it is. It’s a good read and I hoped to post it in its entirely here on the front page but on second thought, I can see it’s too long to put it in this post. (Here’s a direct link to his full comment.) Perhaps before reading further you might want to take a look at this portion of President Dwight Eishenhower’s famous speech where he addressed the danger of the emerging ‘military industrial complex’.
Below are some excerpts from D.I.D.’s post on the subject. I don’t agree with everything my blogfriend says here, but he makes a very good case about how the culture of and reason for the present military-corporate complex became less about national defense and more about corporate defense. They needed a continuing American empire to maintain themselves. (D.I.D. also makes a good case for the geopolitical need to have a strong military in the 20th century.
“. . . from approximately 1945-1991, America led the Western world in a primarily defensive struggle, but, realizing that it could not wage a defensive war forever, also made moves for the collapse of Communism. It was during this period that the global military-industrial empire was built. High military spending was the order of the day, as was the increasing entanglement between the government and numerous corporate interests. The most important corporate interests in that age of hostilities were the defense and weapons industries, as well as the industries controlling strategic resources for the production and use of weapons (e.g., oil).
To me, all of this was legitimate and wholesome for that period, but the American Empire is not wholesome for today. To me, the story of the “Evil American-Corporate” Empire begins with the fall of the Soviet Union.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, the greatest threat to the Western ways of life died with it. Given this, it was assumed that the noble ideas expressed nearly half a century before could be realised, where different nations and their ideologies could coexist peacefully. All of those far-flung military installations of the USA government where no longer necessary for national defense, as there was no major threat to the American way of life. NATO (and to a lesser extent NORAD) had lost its raison d’être with the collapse of its main antagonist.
By all that is right and reasonable, the USA should have slowly lowered its military budget and withdrawn from areas of the world where there is little or no critical American interests, as did most other Western nations. Unfortunately, corporate groups . . .pressured the US government to maintain a presence there to maintain their interests. (In addition, many conservatives these days seem to tout “American Exceptionalism” and “spreading liberty to the oppressed” to a level that is eerily reminiscent of “Master Race” and “the White Man’s Burden”).
Thus began [today’s] American Empire, an entity forged out of an evil necessity that evolved to deny fundamental American principles. “