Of course the most famous quote about the military-industrial complex comes from President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address, but there are many more famous quotes about it. James Madison wrote that “no nation can maintain its freedom in the midst of continuous warfare.” Of course he said this before the modern military-industrial complex came into being, but it’s a famous saying that teaches us a lot.
Before we talk about more quotes, first, let’s talk about Ike. In his famous speech he said “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex.”
Before Ike President Woodrow Wilson warned, ” “You know how impossible it is, in short, to have a free nation if it is a military nation and under military orders”
It was during World War II though that people first started to worry about what President Eisenhower would call the military-industrial complex. The sociologist Harrold Lasswell came up with the term garrison state in 1941 to talk about a future in which the country could be under the control of the “specialists in violence” in society if it went on a permanent war footing. This is what Eisenhower’s Presidential farewell address was about.
Which of course it did with the advent of the Cold War and still is today. But you could see the Cold War as marking the origins of the military industrial complex.
The Cold War arms race began after World War II with an arms race with the Soviet Union.
Today people wonder if there is military industrial complex conspiracy because it is more powerful than ever. The Cold War ended and now we are in a new “war on terror” that will never end.
Here is one recent video by TheRealNews with historian Gareth Porter investigating the influence the defense contractors and their allies have today.
To learn more about the military industrial complex get my book the War State.