The Quincy Institute video Who’s Afraid of the Military Industrial Complex? – YouTube (embedded below) that Coleen shared has gotten 424 views and 37 likes. A music video or a cat video often gets millions of views. Apparently not many people are afraid of the MiC, maybe because they think the topic is BORING. Well, the video has been there for two days only.
In the video, William Hartung, senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute, mentions that the National Defense Industrial Association says that there were about 3 million direct jobs in the defense industry in the 1980s and it’s down to about 1 million now. So you’d hope the influence of the MiC should decrease.
The same necon hawks, such as Eliot Abrams, are recycled from one think tank and pressure group to another.
You sometimes hear that arms exports give the U.S. leverage over recipient countries’ policies. But that’s not the case, according to panelist Shana Marshall. “Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia have flagrantly violated the most basic desires of the U.S. foreign policy establishment over and over.” The U.S. is not very democratic. The preferences of the public rarely get translated into policy.
The moderator says that most people would agree that “the system is absolutely broken. Not broken for the profit makers, but broken for American democracy.”
Michael Brenes, interim director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy and lecturer in history at Yale, discussed defense conversion (converting military jobs to civilian/commercial jobs) There was some success at that in the 1990s. He said it’s important to convert defense industries to good uses, with well-paid jobs and green industries. People in places like Alabama have complained about subsidized defense industries not producing many jobs and not making useful products. John Kenneth Galbraith had an idea in the 1960s about nationalizing defense industries. They gave the example that when the pandemic closed supply chains through Mexico, the U.S. couldn’t get parts that came from China, since the industry is international and outsourced: another reason the U.S. doesn’t see many jobs. Globalization of the military industrial supply chain is great.
There have been growing moves in Congress to lower the military budget. A lot of former military personnel speak out against the MiC later in life, because they realize its faults. Many soldiers had to self-finance to purchase their own body armor in Iraq. It’s easier to hide price gouging in huge multi-billion dollar weapons systems than in contracts for body armor. The public has some awareness that military spending is wasteful, especially given the costs of the covid pandemic. [When my member of Congress pointed to the trillions of dollars Congress spent on pandemic relief to justify higher military spending, I responded: the fact that we had to spend that money is even more reason not to waste money on the unneeded and dangerous weapons.]