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A deadly monster: Part 1. An overview of the military-national security, industrial, political triumvirate

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"The aim of public education is not to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. " Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim " is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality." That cynical but mostly valid assessment was written in The American Mercury in 1924 by the social critic and wit, H. L. Mencken, and if alive today he would have still written it.

So one tried and true way this triumvirate has for gaining access to and shaping the minds of the people is through the nation's educational institutions. Compulsory education, for instance, offers up some 50 million young minds for access and shaping. One particular access route is through hawkish, right wing dominated school boards. They look favorably on any learning materials that are jingoist patriotism and are not about to allow any into the classroom that reveal the nation to be a war maker, not a peace maker. History, Winston Churchill once said, is written by the victors. A book like the late Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States," for instance would be rejected outright for a high school history class if any board member had the temerity to recommend it.

Educational institutions provide many other opportunities for penetration and exploitation by this triumvirate. They include, for example allowing military recruiters to visit high schools; inviting honor guards and military bands at schools' sporting events; inviting NCAA basketball teams to play on aircraft carriers; offering  potential military recruits educational benefits; hiring celebrated military officers to teach at universities; offering (formerly compulsory) ROTC programs at colleges and universities; providing military programs by the American Council on Education; and providing military training in boarding and non-boarding military prep schools for school-age youngsters.

Mainstream media/entertainment industries 

Another access this triumvirate has for reaching and shaping critically unthinking and impressionable minds is through the accommodating mainstream media and entertainment industries. The Pentagon, for example, spends billions of dollars every year on military advertising.

Can you match the following slogans that appear unceasingly on the airwaves, newsprints and internet with their services, and that target young men and women between the ages of 16 and 21? Be All You Can Be. Get an Edge on Life. It's Not just a job. It's an Adventure! You and the ___. Full Speed Ahead. The Few. The Proud. We're Looking For a Few Good Men. Aim High. Be Part of the Action. If you can't match the last one with the Coast Guard neither could 97% of the targeted youth a DoD contractor surveyed. If, on the other hand, you matched the first slogan with the Army so too did 91% of the surveyed youth. [14] If you are a sports fan you probably matched most of them correctly for they appear on televised major league baseball, professional football, professional basketball, professional motor racing, "ad"nauseam. 

Televised programs and wireless internet games featuring violence play perfectly into the hands of a triumvirate that specializes in violence. Toy makers are another good conduit and it is also a good analogy for childlike grown up men in the triumvirate who play for real with deadly "toys." Let's not forget Hollywood and its movies that celebrate struggles with and victories over enemies. Hollywood and the military have a reciprocal alliance that suits each party perfectly. Hollywood submits it war glorifying movie scripts to the military for review and gets access to dazzling military equipment to use for props in profitable movies. The military gets free PR aimed at movie goers. [15]  

The zealots

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They are a motley lot but they all share at least two things in common. They are the triumvirate's cheerleaders, sine qua non; they make no bones about it; and their views are usually extreme and unyielding.

The views of some zealots moreover can be very dangerous as well, as in the case of ideologues like the neoconservatives. They spurred on the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld administration to declare war on Iraq and practically destroy it. These neocons are said to have been spawned by the Cold War, but the idea and zeal for American imperialism via military intervention permeates the history of the United States. President William McKinley, for example, shortly before launching the Spanish-American War on behalf of U.S. commercial interests, said: "We want a foreign market for our surplus markets." [16]

Equally provocative if not also equally dangerous are religious zealots. They have invariably been supportive of war efforts and sometimes instigators of them throughout recorded history. The Christian Zionists, for instance are an inflammatory bunch trying to egg the U.S. into war on behalf of Israel. Equally shameful but less dangerous are all people of the cloth who fail to criticize U.S. military aggression for fear of losing the financial offerings of their flocks. Paying lip service to and posturing for peace (e.g., the lighting of the "advent candle of peace") are about the limit of spiritual leaders' stance on the absence of peace in the world.    

Think tanks and front groups 

Unlike the zealots, front groups and think tanks don't usually shout out their support for this triumvirate. Think tanks are more cerebral than visceral, although some can be quite hawkish. Front groups camouflage their real purpose, euphemize it, or obfuscate it.

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"Two of Washington's most bellicose think tanks," says staff writer Will Sommer of the Washington City Paper, are the American Security Council Foundation and the Center for Security Policy. Sommer tells the amusing story about these two feuding over who has the trademark rights to the slogan, "Peace Through Strength." [17]

Those two groups are among more than 120 groups that Right Web, an outfit that "tracks militarist efforts to influence foreign policy" has on its list (http://rightweb.irc-online.org). A tiny sample of the others includes the American Enterprise Institute, the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Claremont Institute, the Committee on the Present Danger, the Emergency Committee for Israel, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Freedom House, the Heritage Foundation (hawkish Senator Jim DeMint is resigning to head up this hard right "think" tank at a salary ten times his senatorial pay), the National Endowment for Democracy, the New American Century, and the NGO Monitor.  You can probably tell from their titles which ones are the most suspicious. The motto of one of them is "fighting terrorism and promoting freedom" but it could surely speak for the rest also regardless of their titles.


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Retired organizational psychologist.

Author of The Devil's Marriage: Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lurch; America's Oldest Professions: Warring and Spying; and Corporate Reckoning Ahead.

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