President Dwight Eisenhower surprised many Americans some 60 years ago when, in his final speech to the nation before he retired from the presidency, he warned his countrymen to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” Thus the term “military-industrial complex” was introduced into the American political lexicon.
Maybe Eisenhower saw even 60 years ago the pernicious influence that big business was having on government policy, not only in military matters but also in foreign affairs. Corporate power over the American political process generates a corrupting impact on the normal democratic functioning of our government. Decisions regarding what military equipment to purchase are based not on the needs of the military to keep our nation strong, but more on which corporation has bought the most influence in Congress. Thus, the decision on which jet engine to purchase or which company gets a contract to build flying tankers for the Air Force will certainly not be based on military need.
President Eisenhower did us a favor when he told us to guard against the growing influence of the military-industrial complex. It is unfortunate that for the past 60 years we have let our guard down. Our current government must address that serious issue as it faces the financial crisis that is soon to be upon us.