The Birth of the Military-Industrial Complex Monster

by Tim Duff TruthOut Nov 5, 2018

In his farewell speech on January 17, 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower warned of the “military-industrial complex.” The birth of this monster can be traced to National Security Council document 68 (NSC-68), submitted to Harry S. Truman in April 1950.

The document was top secret then and remained so until 1975. Its main author was Paul Nitze, a prosperous and highly educated investment banker unknown to the general public. As noted by David Callahan in his book, Dangerous Capabilities: Paul Nitze and the Cold War, Nitze summarized an elite consensus that, in effect, turned the United States decisively away from its New Deal social programs and toward an endless military buildup.

At the end of World War II, the US was in danger of falling back into another economic depression, especially since overseas trading customers became impoverished by the war. A Keynesian-style economic stimulus was needed, but the elite implicitly wanted federal dollars to be spent on military and weapons of war over public works. To win congressional and public support, then, it was necessary to exaggerate the “Soviet threat.”

But communism was never a serious threat to Western Europe, other than the Soviet-occupied buffer zone in Eastern Europe. It was not a military threat, for under Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Union (USSR) had abandoned the doctrine of “permanent revolution”although the exiled Leon Trotsky protested. Stalin had long opposed the idea that Russia should pursue world revolution. He had broken with Trotsky and proclaimed the idea of “socialism in one country.” Foreign communist parties were encouraged in their own nations’ actions. The Soviet Union was now concentrating on reconstruction from the devastation of the war and on building defenses against further aggression it feared from the capitalist West.

NSC-68 claimed that the USSR was still led by a “fanatic faith,” to “impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world.” Pentagon contracts thus became the lifeblood of the US economy, affecting every congressional district and virtually every activity, mostly in universities, with the scientific research that leads to the development of new weapons of war, helping to build up the economic and military strength of the United States,through the welcomed great inflow of grants, ignoring the strings attached.

Without any public discussion, NSC-68 set the cultural course of the United States for generations to come. Bernard Baruch, who used the alleged communist threat as his argument against the wave of post-war labor demands, announced the onset of the Cold War in a South Carolina speech in 1947, during a speech unveiling his portrait in front of the House of Representatives in South Carolina, when he actually coined the term “Cold War.”He called for unity between labor and management, longer workweeks and no-strike pledges from unions, “since today we are in the midst of a cold war.”

This guise of the overblown “Soviet threat” was orchestrated to pump congressional appropriations into the Pentagon and to control the labor movement, using guilt-by-association with the American Communist Party, by implying that communist infiltration into labor would cause strikes. The American Communist party organization was never a threat to anything, but the racial segregation of the South.

The NSC-68-Cold-War-dominated US foreign policy went without serious challenge until Mikhail Gorbachev ended it. With his decisive move for peace in using the single symbol of the fall of the Berlin Wall in June 1989, he sealed Moscow’s abandonment of the German Democratic Republic and allowed German reunification.

The US today, with its hubris of “American exceptionalism,” still carries out the craven, amoral policies of NSC-68: aspiring to command the world, killing not only nations, but also all nobility of the human spirit. The state is killing the ability to grasp the truth of the human condition; it is killing the respect for the defiance of the brave, for all of us who imagine that we can save the world.

There is little public resistance today to the wars started by the War Party, from both republicans and democrats, because they hardly seem like real wars. The use of drones controlled remotely from Creech Air Force base in Las Vegas, Nevada and the Air National guard base in Fargo, North Dakota, among many others around the world,have removed the stark horrors and murder of “boots on the ground” and the post-traumatic stress syndrome suffered by veterans. Drone war is increasingly invisible, out of any public consciousness.

We need to correct our ideological fog and the tyranny of oil, which was created by an immoral elite behind closed doors and has used dire warnings of an external “threat” to vanquish any possible democratic debate on more humane directions the nation should take.

We need to create a Peace Party that is bipartisan and cross-partisan.A Peace Party that rallies all those who have had enough of a War Party, composed of neo-conservatives and humanitarian hypocrites.

“It is only in showing men the truth,” wrote Baron d’Holbach in 1772, during the Age of Enlightenment. “Then they will come to know their most vital interests and the true motives which should incline them towards what is good. For the less people know, the more obdurate they are in upholding what they think they know.”

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