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Military-industrial complex

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In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties and democratic processes.
—President Dwight D. Eisenhower, coining the phrase.[1]
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
—Eisenhower, again[2]
"What's the point of having this superb military you're always talking about if we can't use it?"[3]

The military-industrial complex (MIC) refers to the interactions and interdependency between weapons manufacturers, the government, and the public. In theory, these interactions provide a powerful incentive for arms manufacturers to produce expensive and unnecessary weapons, who in turn sell it to the government, which then justifies the purchase of the weapons by going to war. These actions harm the public, both financially (taxpayers pay for the weapons and the wars) and morally (through casualties of war and the normalization of violence as foreign policy).

The term was coined by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his farewell address, wherein he sought to warn the U.S. of its dangers. This is one of the reasons why most Republicans rarely acknowledge that he held the office for eight years.

The public obviously gets the raw end of the military-industrial complex. Taxpayers don't always get their money's worth on weapons.[4] Money spent on defense could have been spent on other things, things that don't reduce humans to piles of scorched meat. Defense contractors have great incentive to bribe officials, which happens constantly.[5][6] And most dire of all, with all those weapons lying around, it would be silly not to use them (and after all, if they're spent or destroyed, that's a great opportunity to produce more...). This happens over and over again until the MIC, as Ike said himself, has the chance to "[endanger] our liberties or democratic processes."

Augustine's laws[edit]

Imagine what NASA could be doing with this kind of money.

In 1983, Norman Ralph Augustine, a former Lockheed Martin CEO and former Under Secretary of the US Army, coined 52 ultra-snarky aphorisms (known as Augustine's laws) to explain the tendencies of aerospace corporations.[7] Most relevant here is Law 16, which acts like an inverse Moore's Law:

In the year 2054, the entire defense budget will purchase just one tactical aircraft. This aircraft will have to be shared by the Air Force and Navy 3½ days each per week except for leap year, when it will be made available to the Marines for the extra day.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Transcript of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Farewell Address (1961), Our
  2. Dwight D. Eisenhower.The Chance for Peace, April 16, 1953
  3. That was Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State to Bill Clinton. [1]
  4. F-35 jet a waste of taxpayers' dollars, say McCain, Gates, Christian Science Monitor. February 17, 2011.
  5. A Contractor's Purchase on Power, The Washington Post. March 20, 2006.
  6. Defense contractor employee pleads guilty to bribery, Government Executive. September 3, 2010.
  7. Augustine’s Law Revisited