This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."
The phrase military-industrial complex was first used on January 17, 1961, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower  in his farewell address to the nation in what is called his Military Industrial Complex Speech:
- "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 or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."
The military-industrial complex is generally defined as a "coalition consisting of the military and industrialists who profit by manufacturing arms and selling them to the government." (War profiteering) Eisenhower related, however, that until World War II, the United States did not have an armaments industry. Even though "American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well," the United States could "no longer risk emergency improvisation" of the country's national defense.
The United States, he continues, had been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. At that time, the U.S. was annually spending more on military security "than the net income of all United States corporations." This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry, he said, was "new in the American experience" and that there was an imperative need for this development.
Post Viet Nam 1970s
"In the mid-1970s, the industry and its allies in the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill, and in organizations like the right-wing Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), were looking for ways to reverse the decline in military spending in the wake of the Vietnam War. The 1976 election of Jimmy Carter, who campaigned on a platform of promoting human rights and curbing the arms trade, got the industry’s back up, prompting the creation of a specific industry lobbying group, the American League for Exports and Security Assistance (ALESA). ALESA was explicitly designed to thwart Carter’s efforts on this front." 
The Reagan 1980s
"The arms industry was the direct beneficiary of these developments, as it backed the CPD’s preferred candidate, Ronald Reagan, in his 1980 bid to oust Carter from the White House. The weapons manufacturers ultimately over-reached during the Reagan years, leading to several high-profile scandals. These included the so-called 'spare parts' scandal that revealed charges of $600 for toilet seats and $3,000 for coffee pots, which were in fact just the symbols of an entire procurement system run amok." 
Weapons Procurement 1998-2003
In 1999, according to Foreign Policy in Focus, "the military-industrial complex did not fade away with the end of the cold war. It has simply reorganized itself."
"As a result of a rash of military-industry mergers encouraged and subsidized by the Clinton administration," it continues, "the Big Three weapons makers--Lockheed Martin Corporation, Boeing Corporation, and Raytheon Corporation--now receive among themselves over $30 billion per year in Pentagon contracts. This represents more than one out of every four dollars that the Defense Department doles out for everything from rifles to rockets." 
When this article was posted in 1999, the Clinton Administration five-year budget plan for the Pentagon called for a 50% increase in weapons procurement, which would be an increase from $44 billion per year to over $63 billion per year by 2003. Additionally, the arms industry launched "a concerted lobbying campaign aimed at increasing military spending and arms exports. These initiatives are driven by profit and pork barrel politics, not by an objective assessment of how best to defend the United States in the post-cold war period." 
The New Military-Industrial Complex
Writing for the March 2003 issue of Business2.0, Ian Mount, David H. Freedman, and Matthew Maier address what is now called the New military-industrial complex. As anyone who has been following the current war in Iraq is well aware, "the nature of the battle" is "unlike anything the world has ever known." Afghanistan, the writers say, "provided a glimpse of the latest generation of high-tech weaponry, but it was only a glimpse. A major assault by combined American forces will provide a full demonstration of the military's new doctrine of faster, lighter, smarter warfare -- combat in which cutting-edge technology becomes U.S. troops' deadliest weapon. The Pentagon calls this new doctrine RMA, for revolution in military affairs, and it's made possible not just by fresh thinking in the Pentagon but also by a subtle shift in the ranks of U.S. defense contractors. In building its new high-tech arsenal, the United States has also created a new military-industrial complex." 
"When it comes to military spending, the tradition of the iron triangle—Congress, the Pentagon, and defense industries—joining to push costly weaponry is nothing new." In his speech, Eisenhower said that "The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." 
The Military-Industrial-Think Tank Complex
According to the January/February 2003 Multinational Monitor:
- Each major element of the George Walker Bush administration's national security strategy -- from the doctrines of preemptive strikes and "regime change" in Iraq, to its aggressive nuclear posture and commitment to deploying a Star Wars-style missile defense system -- was developed and refined before the Bush administration took office, at corporate-backed conservative think tanks like the Center for Security Policy, the National Institute for Public Policy and the Project for a New American Century.
- Unilateralist ideologues formerly affiliated with these think tanks, along with the 32 major administration appointees who are former executives with, consultants for, or significant shareholders of top Defense contractors, are driving U.S. foreign and military policy.
- The arms lobby is exerting more influence over policymaking than at any time since President Dwight D. Eisenhower first warned of the dangers of the military-industrial complex over 40 years ago.
- It is not just industry-backed think tanks that have infiltrated the administration. Former executives, consultants or shareholders of top U.S. defense companies pervade the Bush national security team.
- Exploiting the fears following 9/11, and impervious to budgetary constraints imposed on virtually every other form of federal spending, the ideologue-industry nexus is driving the United States to war in Iraq and a permanently aggressive war-fighting posture that will simultaneously starve other government programs and make the world a much more dangerous place.
- The overarching concern of the ideologues and the arms industry is to increase military spending. On this score, they have been tremendously successful. In its two years in office, the Bush administration has sought more than $150 billion in new military spending, the vast majority of which has been approved by Congress with few questions asked. Spending on national defense is nearing $400 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2003, up from $329 billion when Bush took office.
- 1 - Lockheed Martin Corporation $17 billion
- 2 - Boeing Company $16.6 billion
- 3 - Northrop Grumman Corporation $8.7 billion
- 4 - Raytheon Company $7 billion
- 5 - General Dynamics Corporation $7 billion
- 6 - United Technologies Corporation $3.6 billion
- 7 - Science Applications International Corporation $2.1 billion
- 8 - TRW Incorporated $2 billion
- 9 - Health Net, Inc. $1.7 billion
- 10 - L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc. $1.7 billion
"Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.
"Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield."—Eisenhower, Farewell Address, 17 January 1961.
Related SourceWatch articles
- Arms control
- Campaign Against the Arms Trade
- Carlyle Group
- Defense contractors
- Government-owned/contractor operated
- Federal contractors
- Halliburton Company
- military-petroleum complex
- Oil and War in Iraq
- Political influence of arms companies
- Prison-industrial complex
- Private Military Corporations
- Reconstruction of Iraq contractors
- Security-industrial complex
- Socialization of costs and privatization of profits
- Surveillance-industrial complex
- war profiteering
- National Commission for Economic Conversion & Disarmament, Major Defense Contractors: A Mixed Record on Conversion.
- Military-Industrial Complex, Hot Links on CorpWatch.org.
- Military-Industrial Complex, Center for Defense Information; links to other Military-Industrail Complex info; links to U.S. Defense Contractors; links to Defense-related Corporate Mergers.
- The Military-Industrial Complex with links.
- The Military-Industrial Complex with links.
- Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961.
- Colonel Michael F. Noone, Jr. (USAF, Ret.), The Military-Industrial Complex Revisited, Air University Review, November-December 1978.
- Ruben Trevino and Robert Higgs, Profits of U.S. Defense Contractors (1970-1989), The Independent Institute, published in Defense Economics, 1992 (Vol. 3).
- Memorandum for Designated Agency Ethics Officials, Deputy Designated Agency Ethics Officials. Subject: Serving as Advisors to Defense Contractors, May 7, 1999.
- Military-Industrial Complex Revisited. How Weapons Makers Are Shaping U.S. Foreign and Military Policies, Foreign Policy in Focus, revised June 8, 1999.
- William D. Hartung, Eisenhower's Warning: The Military-Industrial Complex Forty Years Later, World Policy Journal, Spring 2001.
- Rich Barlow, Preview 2002-Defense Contractors The Best Defense: Forget Raytheon. There are plenty of other, lower-profile defense contractors that stand to win bigtime during the war on terrorism, Boston Business Foreward, no date 2002.
- Brad Knickerbocker, Return of the 'military-industrial complex'? Pentagon officials come to Congress to make case for big rise in defense spending, The Christian Science Monitor, February 13, 2002.
- The Role of the Arms Lobby In the Bush Administration's Radical Reversal of Two Decades of U.S. Nuclear Policy, May 2002, A World Policy Institute Special Report by William D. Hartung, with Jonathan Reingold
- The Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex, Foreign Policy in Focus, 2002: Top Congressional Recipients of Campaign Contributions from Major Defense Contractors (1997-1998).
- John Stanton, Arming for Armageddon. US military-industrial complex reigns supreme, Online Journal, January 9, 2003.
- William D. Hartung, The Hidden Costs of War. A Report commissioned by Howard S. Brembeck and the Fourth Freedom Forum, Fourth Freedom Forum, February 13, 2003.
- Ian Mount, David H. Freedman, Matthew Maier, The New Military-Industrial Complex. To arm for digital-age war, the Pentagon has turned to a new generation of defense contractors. The hardware is impressive. It's also deadly, www.business2.com, March 2003.
- Peter Key, Defense contractors heard but not seen, Philadelphia Business Journal, March 28, 2003.
- Tony Capaccio, Defense contractors benefit from war spending $3.7 billion in contracts to replenish weapons used against Iraq, Seattlepi.com, April 2, 2003.
- Lee Drutman and Charlie Cray,Cheney, Halliburton and the Spoils of War Citizen Works, April 4, 2003.
- The Washington Corporate War Tour, Citizen Works, updated April 4, 2003.
- Jamie "Bork" Loughner, Eye on the Contractor's Ball, IndyMedia, April 7, 2003.
- The Dirty Dozen: Partners in Mass Destruction, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
- Dr Akmal Hussain, "US military industrial complex", Daily Times, 13 April, 2003.
- Ceara Donnelley and William D. Hartung, A Privatized Occupation. The Price of Freedom in Iraq and Power in Washington, worldpolicy.org, August 2003.
- Boeing's Tawdry Deal, New York Times Op-Ed, November 26, 2003.
- Paul Krugman, Patriots and Profits, New York Times Op-Ed, December 16, 2003: "Last week there were major news stories about possible profiteering by Halliburton and other American contractors in Iraq. These stories have, inevitably and appropriately, been pushed temporarily into the background by the news of Saddam's capture. But the questions remain. In fact, the more you look into this issue, the more you worry that we have entered a new era of excess for the military-industrial complex."
- Perpetual War, Perpetual Terror: "Can you imagine spending $400 billion dollars to fight terror at its roots rather than at its extensions, helping to improve the lives of millions who today have nothing to live for, except martyrdom? Wouldn't $400 billion dollars go further than perpetual bloodshed in the insidious war on terror if we alleviated the suffering, ignorance and poverty of the world's poor, -- the roots of terrorism - by helping to provide jobs, education and medicines which would in turn spawn a sense of goodwill towards the U.S.?" --Manuel Valenzuela, email@example.com, December 16, 2003.
- "Windfalls of War", Center for Public Integrity, January 25, 2004: "Contracts and Reports."
- Robert Fisk and Patrick Cockburn, "Deaths of scores of mercenaries hidden from view", The South Africa Star, April 13, 2004. "At least 80 foreign mercenaries - security guards recruited from the United States, Europe and South Africa and working for American companies - have been killed in the past eight days in Iraq."
- Robert Scheer, "Ike Was Right," truthdig, December 26, 2006.