The U.S. military "establishment": the armed forces and the companies and politicians that depend on them

The military-industrial complex (MIC) is an informal alliance between a nation's military and the defense industry that supplies it, seen together as a vested interest which influences public policy. A driving factor behind this relationship between the government and defense-minded corporations is that both sides benefit—one side from obtaining war weapons, and the other from being paid to supply them. The term is most often used in reference to the system behind the military of the United States, where it is most prevalent and gained popularity after its use in the farewell address of President Dwight D. Eisenhower on 17 January 1961. In 2011, the United States spent more (in absolute numbers) on its military than the next 13 nations combined.

Web Sites

Military-Industrial Complex
Records and tallies publicly-reported contracts between corporations and agencies of the U.S. Department of Defense


A Hit Man Confesses, by Christopher Westley, Mises Daily, 12 Dec 2006
Comments and criticises John Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
"According to Perkins, the EHMs [economic hit men] are simply the first level of interaction with the foreign leaders, who often stand to benefit personally and politically if they go along with the deal that the EHMs offer them. But occasionally they don't go along, which often necessitates the intervention of 'jackals' to remove non-cooperating leaders. And if this doesn't work, well, how many times have US military forces been deployed to non-threatening countries in the fringes of empire?"
How Much More Harm Can Bush Do?, by Paul Craig Roberts, 7 Mar 2006
Discusses the casualties resulting from the 2003 Iraq invasion, the changed world opinion of the United States and the lobbies that benefit from the continuation of hostilities
"It has recently come to light that the U.S. government has imposed an oil deal on the puppet Iraqi government that turns Iraqi oil over to U.S. and British firms for exploitation. ... The profits of the military-industrial complex are soaring, and higher military budgets are being appropriated. The value of Cheney's Halliburton stock options has not merely doubled or tripled but multiplied by a factor of 32."
Is Capitalism Why We Fight?, by Gregory Bresiger, Mises Daily, 6 Apr 2006
Critical review of the theses presented in the 2005 documentary Why We Fight, also inquirying about topics omitted from the film
"The United States, the producers of this work believe, is an empire in which an imperial presidency, backed by a military industrial complex, decides just about everything of consequence. ... Members of Congress normally go along with the president, either Republican or Democrat. That's provided the civilian and defense pork is well distributed in their districts."
Know When to Fold 'Em, by Sheldon Richman, 19 Feb 2007
Discusses the attitudes of Sen. John McCain and other hawks who opposed a non-binding resolution against a troop "surge" in Iraq
"Since the end of World War II the U.S. power elite have pursued a program of world dominance based on the doctrine that only America's leaders were enlightened enough to bring order to the benighted masses — by force if necessary. Not coincidentally, this program was also good for major corporate interests. President Eisenhower called the arrangement the military-industrial complex."
Related Topic: Iraq War (2003)
Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski: U.S. Air Force, 1983-2003, by Karen Kwiatkowski, Brian Lamb, Q&A, 2 Apr 2006
Transcript and Real Audio
"... this emphasis, this need, it's kind of connected. It's like you said, it's the military industrial, and he wanted to say Congressional complex, because there's kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, in a way. I mean, we need the jobs. Those jobs happen to be producing military weapons. In order to justify that, we have to have a use for those military weapons."
Related Topics: George W. Bush, Why We Fight
Memorializing the Horrors of War with 10 Must-See War Films, by John W. Whitehead, 27 May 2016
Comments on the events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and on more recent wars, then suggests ten films that focus on "the nasty business of war"; ends by contrasting Obama's and Martin Luther King's Nobel Peace Prize speeches
"America has long had a penchant for endless wars that empty our national coffers while fattening those of the military industrial complex. ... Even now, the war drums are sounding as Obama prepares to deploy U.S. troops on a long-term mission to Libya and continues to police the rest of the world with more than 1.3 million U.S. troops being stationed at roughly 1000 military bases in over 150 countries."
Pentagon Conduits, by Sheldon Richman, 25 Apr 2008
Discusses the revelations about TV news analysts connected to the Pentagon and to military contractors
"A retired general representing or wishing to represent a military contractor has no better credential than access to insider briefings about current operations. To lose that access is to lose one's livelihood. Thus the Pentagon's plan worked. Disguised as objective analysts, the Defense Department's mouthpieces faithfully delivered the administration's propaganda."
Related Topic: Freedom of the Press
Rings of War, by Charley Reese, 1 Jan 2007
Reflects on war as concentric rings with soldiers in the center and the general public in the outer circle, criticising George W. Bush and Congress for not ending the 2003 Iraq War and suggesting a general tax for future wars as incentive to end them
"In the third ring, at a safe distance, are the politicians who started the war. ... The sixth ring includes the arms industry, which, wisely, keeps a low profile. Arms merchants, after all, view the war as a permanent holiday sale. The longer it lasts, the more profits they make. There is a distinct advantage in products that self-destruct with one-time use, such as bullets, missiles, bombs and artillery rounds. Even the big-ticket items like vehicles don't last too long."
Related Topics: George W. Bush, Taxation, War
The Servile State Revisited, by Joseph Sobran, The Wanderer, 5 Jun 2003
Ponders David Hume's observation as to the ease with which "the many are governed by the few"
"To me one of the most dispiriting features of the war on Iraq was the ease with which the State was able to convince millions of productive Americans that this was somehow a war for their freedom. These people, mostly conservative, are simply unable to see the military establishment as a huge and integral part of the bureaucratic State, parasitic on the country's wealth."
Related Topics: Democracy, Law, The State
The Threat of Militarism, by Karen Kwiatkowski, 9 Jul 2006
Presentation to Global Scholar seminar, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Va.
"Ike advised us to be citizens who rise above our slothful, greedy, prideful, and angry tendencies. He also named a part of government and society — the military industrial complex — that would need to be watched for these same tendencies. These same sins afflict the military industrial complex — after all, it still just people."
The War System and Its Intellectual Myths, by Murray Rothbard, Harry Elmer Barnes: Learned Crusader, 1968
Originally titled "Harry Elmer Barnes as Revisionist of the Cold War"
"Barnes ... notes also the warning directed by President Eisenhower at the end of his term against the military-industrial complex consisting of the coalescing of power in 'corporation executives, Pentagon chiefs and top defense executives, leading military technicians and scientists, and advertising moguls' all increasingly running our society."
Why We Fight: Go see the movie, by Justin Raimondo, 1 Feb 2006
"... the U.S. government [is] the active element that keeps the military-industrial complex (MIC) running like a well-oiled treadmill; and, since Eisenhower's day, the MIC has become an enormous edifice, one that relentlessly and quite profitably perpetuates itself almost like an living organism."
Related Topics: Militarism, Why We Fight

Cartoons and Comic Strips

Long War, Inc., by Mark Fiore, 1 Mar 2006
Related Topic: War


The Spirit of '43, by Walt Disney (producer), 7 Jan 1943
World War II propaganda cartoon showing how the military industrial complex needs income taxation to subsist
Related Topic: Taxation

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Military–industrial complex" as of 19 Oct 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.