11 January 2014
from AlJazeera Website
More than 50 years
after President Eisenhower's warning,
Americans find themselves in perpetual
for the ever expanding business and government interests
The speech may have been Eisenhower's most courageous and prophetic moment.
Fifty years and some later, Americans find themselves in what seems like perpetual war. No sooner do we draw down on operations in Iraq than leaders demand an intervention in Libya or Syria or Iran.
While perpetual war constitutes perpetual losses
for families, and ever expanding budgets, it also represents perpetual
profits for a new and larger complex of business and government interests.
Not only would a war maximize the inherent
powers of the president, but it would maximize the budgets for military and
Ironically, it has had some of its best days
Barack Obama who has radically expanded
drone attacks and claimed that he alone determines what a war is for the
purposes of consulting Congress.
A study showed that roughly 75 percent of the fallen in these wars come from working class families. They do not need war. They pay the cost of the war. Eisenhower would likely be appalled by the size of the industrial and governmental workforce committed to war or counter-terrorism activities.
Military and homeland budgets now support millions of people in an otherwise declining economy.
Hundreds of billions of dollars flow each year
from the public coffers to agencies and contractors who have an incentive to
keep the country on a war-footing - and footing the bill for war.
Recently, the "black budget" of secret intelligence programs alone was estimated at $52.6bn for 2013.
That is only the secret programs, not the much
larger intelligence and counterintelligence budgets. We now have 16
spy agencies that employ 107,035 employees. This is separate from the over
one million people employed by the military and national security law
...that have created a massive, self-sustaining
When the administration starts a war like Libya,
it is a windfall for companies who are given generous contracts to produce
everything from replacement missiles to ready-to-eat meals.
Not only did Democratic members of Congress offer post-hoc support for the Libyan attack, but they also proposed a permanent authorization for presidents to attack targets deemed connected to terrorism - a perpetual war on terror.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers an even steadier profit margin.
According to Morgan Keegan, a wealth
management and capital firm, investment in homeland security companies is
expected to yield a 12 percent annual growth through 2013 - an astronomical
return when compared to other parts of the tanking economy.
One such example is former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff who pushed the purchase of the heavily criticized (and little tested) full-body scanners used in airports.
When Chertoff was giving dozens of interviews to
convince the public that the machines were needed to hold back the terror
threat, many people were unaware that the manufacturer of the machine is a
the Chertoff Group, his highly profitable
security consulting agency. (Those hugely expensive machines were later
Rapiscan, the manufacturer, received the
The war-based economy allows for military and
homeland departments to be virtually untouchable. Environmental and social
programs are eliminated or curtailed by billions as war-related budgets
continue to expand to meet "new threats".
Take the Department of Justice (DOJ). A massive counterterrorism system has been created employing tens of thousands of personnel with billions of dollars to search for domestic terrorists.
The problem has been a comparative shortage of
actual terrorists to justify the size of this internal security system.
For example, the DOJ claimed to have busted a major terror-network as part of "Operation Cedar Sweep", where Lebanese citizens were accused of sending money to terrorists.
They were later forced to drop all charges against all 27 defendants as unsupportable. It turned out to be a bunch of simple head shops. Nevertheless, the new internal security system continues to grind on with expanding powers and budgets.
A few years ago, the DOJ even changed the
definition of terrorism to allow for an ever-widening number of cases to be
Many members represent districts with
contractors that supply homeland security needs and our on-going wars.
It is a testament to the influence of this alliance that hundreds of billions are being spent in Afghanistan and Iraq while Congress is planning to cut billions from core social programs, including a possible rollback on Medicare due to lack of money.
None of that matters. It doesn't even matter that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called the U.S. 'the enemy' and said he wishes that he had joined the Taliban.
Even the documented billions stolen by
government officials in Iraq and Afghanistan are treated as a mere cost
of doing business.
War may be hell for some but it is heaven for others in a war-dependent economy.