In the counsels 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 or democratic processes.
—President Dwight Eisenhower, upon leaving office; January 1961
Stick with me on this post - I think it will be worth it.
Brian Bogart is 50 years old and the University of Oregon’s first graduate student in Peace Studies. This by way of introduction:
I wrote pen-pal letters asking President Kennedy to take down the Berlin Wall, marched with Martin Luther King, worshipped John Lennon, worked for companies building Trident, MX, and Stinger missiles simultaneous to my involvement with Carl Sagan’s anti-Cold War Space Bridge project, and helped build the B-1 bomber and parts for the Aegis Weapons System (capable of directing 20 missiles at once) on the Ticonderoga-class battle cruiser—much of this while attempting to deconstruct the obvious conflict between what I wanted (peace) and what I needed (a paycheck).And here with no further ado is one of the key sections of Bogart's new article at ICH, America Programmed for War: Cause and Solution:
A single policy decision made in secluded chambers of the White House shortly after World War II explains why our financial and intellectual creativity focuses on lethal technologies, why 51% of our taxes go to defense and less than 5% to education, why there are 6000 military bases in the United States and 1000 US bases overseas, why comprehensive agendas support warfighting and weak agendas address human services and the environment, and why our top industry since 1950 remains the manufacture and sale of weapons.The "single policy decision" Bogart is talking about was made just after WWII, when President Truman signed a document called NSC-68, which recognised the Soviet Union as an "evil and imminent threat". Bogart argues that this policy transformed the USA from a people-based economy to a military-based one. He further claims that the Korean War was begun on false premises as a means of pushing this policy through Congress. Heavy stuff!
All US military actions from 1950 to 2005 flow from this decision, made without the consent of the American people. There is no fundamental difference between the Cold War and today’s so-called permanent war on terror; perfect fuel for our military-based economy. For 55 years, America has been waging a crime against humanity, a crime for profiteers. I call it the Long War because “permanent” is defeatist.The author of the NSC-68 policy was Wall Street’s Paul Nitze. Then Secretary of State Dean Acheson was a key supporter. Both men have been cited as role models by Paul Wolfowitz:
“Paul Nitze has had a huge mark on my career over many, many years, starting with 1969, when I was still a very much wet-behind-the-ears graduate student who came to Washington to work with three great men: Paul Nitze, Dean Acheson, and Albert Wohlstetter.”Bogart claims the US military-industrial complex has profited from more than 200 wars since NSC-68.
But those in power today have also retooled our corporate industry (through the weakening of safeguards), our national intelligence agencies (through top-down coercion, firings, and policy changes), and the public mindset (through consolidation of media) to optimize war profits and popularize the notion of the need for permanent war.Like Condi Rice, Paul Nitze had a ship named after him - nothing less than a destroyer, in fact. But it's interesting that he criticized the new "war on terror" before his death last year (Bogart argues his ideas were "co-opted" by Wolfowitz and the neocons).
The war-driven economy is justified by a “necessary” war on terror. But which came first - America’s global military-economic outreach, or international terrorism? Despite protestations from the current administration, terrorism is and has been a blowback of our policy, and as Chomsky says, the way to stop terrorism is to stop participating in it.
I often wonder if those responsible for some of the atrocious decisions being made these days are totally aware of what they are doing, and the implications their decisions will have for generations to come. For example:
Foreign policy is what a few men make it, and that is terribly wrong. NSC-68 is where America, officially, took the wrong road. During its conception while developing the hydrogen bomb, Secretary of State Dean Acheson instructed subordinates to ignore any moral implications and focus on technological and budgetary challenges. This opened the door for a future of technical justifications by the Pentagon, and closed the door on all discussions of morality. The machine was born.Bogart calls for an urgent transformation of US society, re-instating "We, The People" at the head of government - even if it means changing the US Constitution.
But his primary focus is the field in which he works, education. He says military funding is transforming the education curricculum, and he provides some hair-raising examples:
More than 300 universities are developing weapons for the Pentagon’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, many involving nanotechnology. MIT received an entire installation on campus, the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, and USC boasts the Institute for Creative Technologies. Both are among the leaders in developing the FCS Objective Force Warrior.Is this guy a Conspiracy Theory psycho (or psychic?) or is he someone we should be listening to very, very carefully indeed? How about this:
DoD literature speaks glowingly of the program’s accomplishments: “Arnold Schwarzennegger as The Terminator has nothing over the Objective Force Warrior.” It promises to “develop a high-tech soldier with 20 times the capability of today’s warrior by about 2010,” by integrating 18 systems into human soldiers. These systems include: graphic displays equaling “two 17-inch computer monitors in front of the soldier’s eyes”; thermal sensors; day-night video cameras; chemical and biological warning sensors; auditory enhancement; stealth and self-healing-wound technology; super sneakers that allow soldiers to jump over walls and buildings (Nike incorporated nanotechnology into its shoes in 2001); and microclimate conditioning.
Most of these systems already exist...
... click on http://www.bme.jhu.edu/labs/nthakor/hongbo/main.htm for a graphic study of “wetware”: in this case controlling rats via brain “hardpacks” (i.e. torture) at Johns Hopkins University, where Paul Wolfowitz is (or was) dean of the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.Here's a pic.
In today's world, it's not hard to imagine such contraptions strapped to the head of Gitmo inmates, is it? Bogart seems to have genine respect for those working on such projects....
They, like us, are merely cogs in the machine.However...
This is America, warrior nation. This is not a peace-loving country, and this is not an enlightened, promising, hopeful use of our schools.If the information above hasn't scared you yet, this might. Bogart looks at the amount of money the Department of Defence is spending on secret projects:
In fiscal year 1999, the Department of Defense, the largest agency in the United States, reported unaccountable adjustments of $2.3 trillion to balance its books. In fiscal year 2000, it reported unaccountable adjustments of $1.1 trillion to balance its books. For fiscal year 2001, and since, DoD has (again conveniently) declined to report ( http://www.whereisthemoney.org ).Bogart says there are 310,000 companies around the world working for America’s war industry.
With the most secretive administration in history, under which millions of public documents have vanished or been reclassified, let’s be generous and say they misplace a mere $1 trillion a year. 3.4 plus 1 trillion times four—leaving out 2005—means 7.4 trillion-plus Pentagon dollars are up to no good somewhere.
That’s what we’re up against.Bogart quotes Derrick Jensen's book, Welcome to the Machine:
Deceptions such as the Cold War, the war on drugs, and the war on terror do not make our communities and our lives any safer. Their aim is to facilitate war profiteering...
Under our corporate-owned federal government, America controls the world and its own people through fear. It is up to us to reject the power of fear and give birth to a superpower of public opinion.
“What one generation perceives as repression, the next accepts as a necessary part of a complex daily life.”When you think about that, there is a lot of truth in it. In maintaining this blog for - how long?? - I have undergone something of a personal re-education that often makes me wonder about some of the standard, unquestioned attitudes to government and the military that are widespread in our societies. For example, why exactly is it so damned import to "Support Our Troops" even when they are committing atrocities?
In our time-pressured lives we rarely grasp the big picture and tend to view things separately: DARPA is an agency, universities are where we send our kids, elections are how we (think we) choose our presidents, and wars simply exist. But those in power see a single advancing policy—a military policy to derive profits from fear—and they have set our course in Pentagon plans that will not change with administrations.The one thing Bogart forgot to mention is widespread global poverty. While the USA is pouring untold trillions of dollars into such questionable weaponry, the poor, uneducated masses are becoming prime recruitment fodder for groups like Al Quaeda.
What is our plan as the people? We will find inspiration from our revolutionary past. There are no laws against carrying out a change of government. Quite the contrary:
We hold these truths to be self evident—that all are created equal, endowed with inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted deriving their powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever government becomes destructive of these ends it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, to throw off such government and provide new guards for their future security.
I guess the US military-industrial leaders might be rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of endless war which this scenario entails, but there simply has to be a better way. And it is up to us - you and me, my friend - to not only find it, but to make it happen.