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Containing the Military Industrial Complex

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Remarks at Democracy Fest, San Diego, July 15, 2006

More than any other weapons system, the chief products of the military industrial complex are lies. We just learned this week that Congress was cracking down on corruption by denying another contract to Halliburton. In reality, Halliburton has completed its main task of building five permanent bases and doesn't care as much about more contracts for services for soldiers. And, in fact, last month the Senate rejected, nearly along party lines, a bill to create honest contracting and impose penalties for fraud of the sort almost openly engaged in by Halliburton.

Lies and secrets are what the military industrial media complex sells us. We say the phrase "military industrial complex," but the lies that it hides behind permeate our thinking and dominate the politics of both major parties. Some of these lies are:

Being tough and hungry for war makes us safer.

The wars we wage have something to do with defense.

The wars we wage are fought for reasons related to foreign threats or international relations.

We wage our wars reluctantly.

Working for peace is weak.

These lies are engrained in all of us, and you will find vestiges of them in yourself long after you reject them. The fact is that the larger our military grows, the less safe we are - because the size of it encourages its use, and its use creates enemies and terrorists.

The Bush Cheney gang has increased spending on weapons and wars to create the largest deficit ever. Our kids and grandkids will pay for this with their dollars and possibly their lives.

What drives our government to behave this way?

Congressman John Murtha recently sent his colleagues a letter comparing the $8 billion a month we're spending to kill Iraqis with the costs of various other projects, but Murtha has voted each year to spend that war money, and the alternatives he offered focused on so-called "Homeland Security" and included a plea to build more ships and planes for the military.

Where does this drive come from to only oppose a war with language that encourages the growth of the Military Industrial Media complex?

The first place we instinctively look is bribes, or what in Washington we call campaign contributions. And those are not insignificant: $16 million in 2004 from weapons makers, 63% of it to Republicans, and $53 million from energy companies, 75% of it to Republicans. The biggest profiteers in the current war are oil companies. If the illegal war bothers you and the price of gas bothers you, it may be even more disturbing to understand that the war was fought in order to raise the price of gas.

But the bribes from weapons makers and oil drillers are small beside those of other industries. And there are members of Congress who do not take them but still behave as if they took them. I'd like to suggest three ways to explain this.

FIRST, Congress Members fear and pander to the corporate media, and the corporate media will not tolerate opposition to the military industrial complex. Just prior to the attack on Iraq, FAIR found that over three quarters of the guests discussing the coming war on ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS news were current or former government officials, and three-quarters of those who were not government officials were still supporters of the war. Meanwhile less than 1% were identified with organized protests or anti-war groups.

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)
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