Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Atanu Dey on the military-industrial complex

Great piece here on how certain parties in both rich and poor countries have strong incentives to proliferate weapons in the global market, and -- unsurprisingly -- how this is very good for business. Consider the recent news where the US appears to be thinking of selling predator drones to Pakistan. Atanu writes:

The absurdity of the situation is resolved if you consider that the military-industrial complex of the US is involved in a simple dollar auction.

Briefly, the US gives Pakistan drones under some pretext. Since Pakistan is broke, it cannot pay for them. So the US gives military assistance to Pakistan to buy the drones with. Which basically means that the US pays its weapons manufacturers for supplying the Pakistanis. That’s the first-order effect of military aid to Pakistan: US weapons manufacturers continue to be in business.

The second-order effect follows predictably. India now has to match Pakistan’s weapons. India pays the US to buy drones. This means more business for US weapons manufacturers.

The war on terror has to continue because that’s what allows the machinery of the military-industrial complex humming away. The US is a military superpower and any day of the week it actually wants to, it can totally wipe off global Islamic terrorism. That it chooses not to do so is simple: its weapons industry will hurt like hell. Sure the US exports a lot of stuff other than weapons. But the politicians who make the policies are in the pockets of the weapons manufacturers.

All this reminds me of Dwight Eisenhower's prescient Presidential farewell address in 1961. Eisenhower was a military man himself, and he must have known well the ugly nexus that was developing between making of weapons and the making of money. This is the exact sentence he used:
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.
Nobody seems to have heeded. The military-industrial complex is a reality now -- a major reality, and not just in the US. How do we get out of this one?

Also see, Why We Fight.

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