The Military-Industrial Complex
OK, so this is a reasonably well established concept. I first met it at school, in the 1970s and later gave talks and a seminar on the subject at University. It was, thus, early set as one of my subjects of interest, although the bulk of my background was that of scientist.
Stuck in the depths of the cold war, it was used as a descriptor of the grim struggle to produce enough armaments and of viable sophistication to remain at least on a par with The Opposition and preferably to establish your bloc as superior. Quality of armaments and quantity counted in the overall tally and both sides in the contest – Capitalist versus communist, America versus Soviet Russia, – made sure everyone was constantly aware of their capabilities. Large proportions of both economies were dedicated to provide the materials and hyperboles were proffered constantly as to the dangers of the opposition and the need to outcompete them – through arms expenditure.
The Industries realised that their machines and munitions also had markets all around the world, in lesser squabbles. This had the additional results of both demonstrating effectiveness of said merchandise and also providing substantial extra income streams. Wars were good for business. Thus was the Permanent Arms Economy developed. In the context of the ongoing Cold War this was both an unpleasant side effect and also pressure release valve. So the Cold War was fought on the battlefields of the Third World, sucker countries way over their heads in this conflict.
But the major contest was in Peacock Posturing and expenditure on Nuclear Weapons. The MIC consumed and consumed and drained the coffers of both the major combatants until the Soviets became embroiled in conflicts in Afghanistan and, later, Chechnia. The former led to the economic collapse of Russia and twenty years of retrenchment before they remerged in their current commodity supplier but still nuclear armed and important context.
America declared themselves victors and leapt to consume the spoils of war. Simply the World was theirs for total domination. Their currency was already pretty global – the “Petro-dollar” – and now their army was officially dominant. They dismissed the United Nations and took to running things with NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which “spread their legitimacy” by involving other, and increasing numbers of, countries, many nowhere near the North Atlantic.
NATO “fought” wars in Yugoslavia, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Libya and in many other countries to a greater or lesser extent. But how was this now funded and to what purpose? A “war on terror” was declared, as if tiny little rebel groups were a realistic target. But, of course, such a war could be fought anywhere and at any time by NATO – it gave them a carte blanche.
But what was the ongoing purpose? The American Military Industrial Complex had won its war and so had to reinvent itself and so restore its purpose and the strength of its economy. No “peace dividend” payouts if they could help it, no turning of guns into ploughshares. They were good at guns and wanted to keep and build that market.
And so Military Industrial Complex evolved. Now MIC has become not just a mechanism for selling armaments. Now it is the mechanism for supporting all your bloc’s industry, all your selling. Now it captures and dominates client states as fodder for its entire industrial productivity. “We’ll look after you but you must demonstrate your loyalty. You must buy our products. To start up, let’s get your infrastructure rebuilt after the recent disturbances. It just so happens that we’ve got some very competent and able companies who are just waiting for this opportunity. Let’s invite them in, shall we…..?”
So the permanent arms economy merged with the military industrial complex and with no obvious opposition, save its own fantasies or constructs (like Al Qaeda) has morphed into a protection racket.
Al Capone lives on only now dug deep into the Pentagon.