Thursday, June 16, 2011

An Easy Target

Since January 17th, 1961, the "military industrial complex" has been the favorite punching bag of anyone who wishes to rant against an entity that can not retort.

President Eisenhower (one of my favorite figures in American history), gave his farewell address and warned "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.  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."

Bravo.  I agree in total.  Any process which endangers our liberties and democratic processes must be confronted at every chance.

Yet, often when people invoke the "military industrial complex", they are not referring to undemocratic processes.  They are often referring to outcomes of democratic processes that they don't agree with.

And what is the "military industrial complex"?  Good question.  It's undefinable.  This is the weakness of President Eisenhower's wording.  Any rational person understands his..."point".  But what his "point" lacks is a definable clarity.  Who is the industrial complex?  Who is the CEO?  Who are the shareholders?  Who are the representatives?  Who are the lien holders?  Who is the the Ombudsman?  

The answer--unless you more clearly define "military industrial complex"-- is there are no answers to the above questions.

So, for those who loosely use the term "military industrial complex" to argue against whatever point they are trying to make, here's a recommendation: quit using a term that is easy to use because there is no entity who can defend themselves against your argument.  The term is so general that it applies to no one.  If you wish to argue your point with the intention of not giving the other side a chance to defend themselves and tell you why they think you are wrong...then that makes you an intellectual coward.

In short, no real point to this post, other than I wish people would make their arguments more concise, and allow those who work hard for their country and the freedom that you enjoy, an opportunity to defend their actions, decisions, and well, purchases.  While you may use the term "military industrial complex" as a punch line, there are also things you owe your freedom to because of that term.  Second recommendation:  think about what it would mean to remove the US military industrial complex.  Do you honestly believe you and your loved ones would be better off for it?

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