Talk:Military-industrial complex

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Has anyone read Drift, by Rachel Maddow? It would be useful for references.--TheLateGatsby (talk) 22:52, 27 June 2012 (UTC)

A few things to consider[edit]

I'm going to rip the following content from Wikipedia.

However, the OpenSecrets' website's listing of top organizations contributing donations to politicians indicates that defense companies are well down the list. Lockheed Martin, the country's largest defense contractor, is 33rd, at $22,398,020 in total contributions to politicians from 1989 to 2012. General Electric is 35th at $21,947,727. Other defense contractors are even further down the list: Boeing is 51st, with total political contributions at barely $17,884,942. Northrop Grumman is 58th, at $15,598,484. General Dynamics is 70th, at $13,894,518. The 10 top contributors are: ActBlue at $69,829,402; the American Fdn of State, County, and Municipal Employees at $61,440,473; AT&T at $49,435,290; the National Association of Realtors at $44,032,938; the NEA at $43,613,263; the SEIU at $41,809,666; Goldman Sachs at $39,830,663; the American Association for Justice at $36,480,728; the Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers" at $35,994,170; and the American Federation of Teachers at $34,698,466. From 1989 to 2012, ActBlue, a pro-Democrat group, contributed almost as much to politicians as the top 4 defense contractors combined.[1]

The numbers are a bit outdate, and the companies have move slightly up on the list. Of course, this doesn't justify defense lobbying, nor does it hide the fact that defense lobbying is very powerful. However, these are some figures to keep things in perspective. Should this be added to the page? (talk) 00:58, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

I'm...having trouble following how this works. What are you trying to change? What article is this from? I'm missing some context... Zero (talk - contributions) 10:55, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
The point of this article is to illustrate how the military and the defense industry can work together to influence US foreign policy. While it's undeniable that this combination has a noticeable influence, I don't think it's as pervasive or strong as this article suggests. For instance, was the defense industry responsible for the US invasions of Iraq or Afghanistan? Since when in recent history has the defense industry been the reason for being involved in a shooting war? (talk) 21:58, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

This article needs further expansion[edit]

Firstly, how influential and pervasive is this military-industrial complex? I believe that here's a good article on the Independent on this subject matter.

"In fact, for all his strictures about the MIC, the worst has not come to pass. Wars have always been good business for weapons manufacturers – and so it has been with Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. The arms industry therefore was never going to be very happy with the notion of a "peace dividend" at the end of the Cold War.

But it is a leap to describe modern America as a "warfare state" – in which the Iraq war, say, was the direct result of a colossal conspiracy by the arms industry to force the country into a conflict purely to enrich itself. As for the ultimate nightmare, a military take-over akin to the one that came close to in John Frankenheimer's fictional 1964 political thriller Seven Days in May, that is simply inconceivable."

Yurek (talk) 10:00, 11 October 2014 (UTC)

Wot in industrialisation? Anim (Carfa) 11:53, 3 April 2017 (UTC)

Problem(s?) with Augustine's Law graph (inflation not included)[edit]

I've also posted this on the talk page of the image itself - but who're going to see it there, realistically speaking? I think there's a problem with the B-52 data: According to the wiki-articleWikipedia, the prices for the B-52B and H are either the same or lower for the airframe, engine, electronics and so forth, with only the ordinance costs having increased markedly, when all prices are converted to 1955 dollars. It appears that the graph here is using the B-52B price in 1955 dollars and the B-52H in 1998 dollars. There also seems to be a decimal error in the price tag of the B-52B (the $1.44 million should've been $14.4 million). While I think the overall trend towards more and more expensive aircraft is probably true, inflation needs to be taken out of the equation. ScepticWombat (talk) 11:48, 25 November 2014 (UTC)

Where are examples of real MIC?[edit]

Like the former Soviet Union or North Korea? (talk) 23:26, 25 January 2015 (UTC)

Just thought I'd mention that Ike's original designation was the military-industrial-congressional complex (pointing directly to the U.S. and making it inapplicable to either the USSR or the DPRK). Considering very "real" cases such as SDI, the Ground-Based Midcourse DefenseWikipedia, the pressure put on congressmen and -women who even raise the issue of defence cuts by defence lobbyists "reminding" them that so and so many jobs "could" be lost in their electoral district, the U.S. military-industrial complex is very "real".
By contrast, mixing in the USSR and DPRK would ignore the fact that these were/are military dictatorships with planned economies, and we could simply start lumping in any old military dictatorship. Apart from veering uncomfortably close to becoming a not as bad as-argument, this would obscure the fact that Ike's concept relies on politico-economic incentives applied in a democratic system - a fundamentally different scenario from simply having a military clique running a country. ScepticWombat (talk) 07:36, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
This then brings up a question. Has the defense industry been responsible for starting or encouraging shooting wars? As far as I know any foreign military sales (FMS) must be approved by Congress. Defense industry is no doubt powerful, but just how much influence do they have on US domestic and foreign policy? The article as it currently is only states what MIC is, without thoroughly analyzing its existence in the US. (talk) 07:03, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
I doubt the MIC, let alone the "the defense industry" has directly (causally) "been responsible for starting or encouraging shooting wars", though I think the late Chalmers JohnsonWikipedia had a point when arguing that the emphasis on military action as the only "real" way of addressing foreign policy issues is a warping of U.S. political thinking that is closely connected to the militarism involved in the MIC. I'm generally sceptical about arms races necessarily leading to war and see them as, at most, contributing factors. In fact, as Johnson also mentioned, the U.S. arms exports serve to justify further U.S. military R&D to stay ahead of other armed forces - equipped with exported U.S. military tech. This means that the MIC actually doesn't need wars to keep chugging on. You might even argue that, given the risk of "getting burned" (Vietnam, Iraq) which may dampen the appetite for foreign intervention and by extension the appetite for military investments in the public, foreign intervention might be seen as a mixed blessing by the defence industry. What may be economically more advantageous for the defence industry would be the kind of extensive and expensive proxy wars using mainly conventional weapons (i.e. limited use of WMDs) of the Cold War era - especially if involving wealthy powers such as in the case of the Iran-Iraq WarWikipedia. Another economically attractive strategy is to encourage development of such complex (and strategically rather useless) systems as the SDI and its missile shield descendants (complex = expensive, loads of development with a high tolerance of failures, yet more guaranteed profit through cost-plus contractsWikipedia, and pretty inscrutable success criteria). ScepticWombat (talk) 08:19, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
Fair point, but while the US does export weapons to dubious "allies", those exports are typically downgraded versions of what is already in service. For instance, the M1A1 Abrams sold to Egypt, Iraq, etc have downgraded armor packages (and possibly fire control packages), and the F-15E sold to Saudi Arabia had lower resolution radar. To be honest I think military R&D is primarily motivated by what near-peer adversaries, i.e. Russia and China, are developing (or what the Pentagon thinks they're developing). At times intelligence can be way off, such as the greatly exaggerated capabilities of the MiG-25 when defining the original requirements of the F-X (which became the F-15). The job argument put up by defense contractors is just hot air that the Pentagon certainly didn't buy, otherwise they would've have axed F-22 production. But in any case, my greatest exception to the purported existence of a MIC as described by Eisenhower in the US is this statement in the article.
"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.""
Frankly, this statement is highly questionable, and doesn't address the real issue with the defense industry: screwed up Pentagon acquisition process. Defense companies like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman often lobby for their programs as a way to keep out other defense companies. We must remember that the greatest enemy of a defense company in the US is another defense company. This means that political clout has a lot to do what weapons the Pentagon buys, even that weapon wasn't the best in the competition. That said, lobbying and political clout can allow production of weapons that the military doesn't deem essential, such as General Dynamics keeping open the Lima tank factory for the M1 Abrams. Defense companies like to line the pockets of politicians with money in both Republican and Democratic parties, but they are hardly unique in that regard, and their financial contributions are rather small compared to other industries, according to OpenSecrets.
Also questionable is the second sentence in the lead paragraph.
"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. "
While there are exceptions to the rule, generally the Pentagon dictates what it needs to defense contractors, and the Pentagon generally write requirements based on current and projected threats. If the projected threat decreases, then so too will overall defense spending, as seen by the decline in defense spending starting in the second half of Bush Sr.'s administration due to the fall of the Soviet Union. On the other hand, defense spending is now rising due to the rapid modernization of China's and Russia's military. This "incentive" is dependent on the magnitude of foreign competitors. The military is viewed as a means of deterrence and power projection. Now, you can argue that the US' powerful military gives it an unfair ability to influence the rest of the world.
In short, there are many problems with the defense industry, from lobbying, to contractual dishonesty, to acquisition malpractice, but the complex as described by Eisenhower just isn't pervasive based on my observations. (talk) 19:40, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
I think Ike was pretty right on the money. You mention the fall in defence spending during the 2nd half of Bush Sr.'s term, but the salient point about this example is that this was the proverbial exception to the rule: U.S. defence spending rose way before the current hype about the "modernisation" of Soviet Russian and Red Chinese militaries (hype which has a large element of manufactroversy and propaganda). But I think we agree that a direct causal link between arms buildup and war is implausible. As I said earlier, I find Chalmers Johnson's argument of a militarisation of U.S. foreign policy to be the real area of concern (note how when U.S. politicians insist that "the U.S. needs to act" on some foreign policy matter, this seems to have become virtually synonymous with some form of military response). While not necessarily escalating to a full-scale war, this kind of militarised foreign policy has an element of "when all you have is a hammer"-logic to it. Witness, for instance, how the War on Drugs and the War on Terror in their foreign policy aspects have become or at least included outright military ventures, despite the fact that both problems fall within the territory of law enforcement and/or (civilian) intelligence. This would be the kind of (inappropriate) application of military means that Eisenhower warned against.
Also, you don't need to contribute a lot directly to a campaign, when you can, as the arms lobby does, hold up the threat of job losses (or, inversely, job creation) for constituents and the future promise of a very cushy and well-paid job as a lobbyist in the MIC after a congressional career. Those are also among the carrots/sticks that the arms lobby possess. Contrast with the financial lobby which may chip in more in absolute terms in campaign contributions and can promise a good lobbyist job afterwards, but generally doesn't have as big a stick when it comes to job losses among constituents. Or the farm lobby which I'd guess can use the job loss-line, but whose campaign contributions and future lobbyist prospect are probably not as great as the financial lobby's. ScepticWombat (talk) 08:41, 2 February 2015 (UTC)