August 15 1945 throngs of Americans are
rushing city streets to celebrate good news with the last of the Nazi threat
beaten at Berlin a few months earlier Americans had just gotten news that
their final major enemy Japan would surrender and with President Truman’s
announcement accepting it the planets deadliest war had just stopped going on
earth any New Year’s Eve surging beaming bringing joy humanity we’ve never dated
States has seen plenty of wars since World War two but none of them have
ended with celebrations like these that’s partly due to the fact that few
if any wars since then have been clear American victories but mostly it’s
because these days our wars don’t end at all we will bring it into the 17 years
of fighting to take back to the US is Stuart nothing would open and the troop
deployments will accept no outcome but American leadership is not just
respected it is required to better understand the American forever war we
need to go back to the founding if you look at the way that the founders talked
about war and permanent military establishments they were quite adamant
on this point if the federal government was allowed to have a standing permanent
army that it would be a threat the First Continental Congress and the Declaration
of Independence both spoke of standing armies being one of the reasons for
wanting to separate from England in the first place this skepticism toward a
permanent wartime posture mostly held for much of America’s early history wars
ended decisively and servicemen and women went back into the labor force and
then things changed Americans were accustomed to living a
relatively safe and secure existence and suddenly they felt very vulnerable now
we must be ready for a new danger the atomic bomb worried about what this new
American fear my licensed President Dwight Eisenhower gave in our prophetic
speech we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast
proportions we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence by
the military-industrial complex by 1961 Eisenhower had seen the Cold War lasts
over a decade the length of the war was producing a permanent standing army just
as the founders had feared giving rise to a military-industrial
complex made up of three key groups that faced strong incentives to keep America
at war the first is a small number of American companies that depend heavily
upon the manufacturer of military implements these arms manufacturers are
just like any other private company and want to see increased profits that they
can only get from a nation at war the second is Congress congressional
candidates want to win elections and to do that they need money in support which
they can get in part from large and growing constituencies employed by the
defense industry and the third is the bureaucracy the defense bureaucracy is
just like any other bureaucracy it wants to see its budgets and prestige grow and
Wars can give them that Eisenhower’s fear was then a protracted
wartime footing would cultivate these regroups dependence on them and in turn
encourage their support from war 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
there was a CNN article the headline was army to Congress thanks but no tanks the
Pentagon doesn’t want it the soldiers don’t need it
but Congress will give it to them anyway row upon row of m1 Abrams tanks you the
taxpayer are still likely to be on the hook general Odierno chief of staff of
the Army at the time testified before Congress that we don’t need these tanks
he’s fairly explicit on this point and effectively Congress just said yeah we
we understand what you just said we don’t agree and we’re gonna buy them
anyway is it national security or is it congressional job security this kind of
careless spending is pretty common but it wasn’t even the most worrying
prospect of the military-industrial complex the founders had deliberately
set up our government to make the decision to go to war a difficult one
forcing public debate about whether or not the war effort was worth making when
the United States didn’t have a permanent armaments industry every
single time he had to go to war the American people had to be convinced that
the war was worth fighting but by the 1960s that military establishment
existed the president didn’t actually have to make the case it was already
there tonight the battle has been joined leave Kuwait or be driven by our armed
forces joined our NATO allies and airstrikes against by the early 90s the
cold war had finally ended and the u.s. no longer needed its vast military to
fight off the Soviet threat so with the war over you would think that America’s
military would come to look more like one at peacetime but that’s not what
happened when the Cold War ended why did the u.s. military remain as active as it
did why was it in so many places 800 American military bases in more than 70
countries post Cold War activities showed Americans at the military
industrial complex that Eisenhower had warned about was here to stay whether or
not we had a major enemy to warrant it I think it was reasonable for Americans to
think the military spending would go down quite dramatically and again in
some respects it did but not nearly as what you might expect the military
establishment had in fact become permanent on my orders the United States
military has begun strikes and after war has come to Iraq for the third time
in a quarter of a century we’re going to war with Iraq why I guessed it they’re
the only do you have is a Hammer Every Problem has to look like a nail after
the 9/11 attacks thrust America into the war on terror spending soared and as
objectives shifted from limited missions to nation-building spending reached a
high not seen since World War two and Americans were fed promise after promise
that this would not be the new normal we are leaving in 2014 period by the end of
next year our war in Afghanistan will be over the president will soon announce a
major shift fewer troops will be coming home from Afghanistan than originally
planned great nations do not fight endless wars but you want to question
what we spent a fortune on building this incredible base we might as well keep it
this way of the military-industrial complex on American foreign policy may
leave the prospect of peace feeling elusive but there is hope I’m hopeful
for the future of American foreign policy because I do see an entire
generation of Americans who have grown up and reached adulthood during the time
of the post 9/11 wars who are committed to principles of tolerance and trade and
cultural exchange but deeply skeptical of the military as a preferred
instrument of American foreign policy this is one of those times in the
affairs of nations when the gravest choices must be made
if there is to be a turning for the just than lasting peace