The Story of America‘s Military-Industrial Complex
by Robert S. Gray in Association with Planet Group Entertainment
This hour-long documentary incorporates archival photographs and newsreel film footage with top film, stage, and voice talents who create the vocal characterizations of key historical figures in recounting America’s rise to global economic and military domination.
An excerpt that defines the picture today:
"Just over 50 years ago, in his farewell address from the Oval Office, Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the nation of the dangers inherent in a powerful “military-industrial complex,” and just three days later—as if in proof of Eisenhower’s words—John Fitzgerald Kennedy famously vowed to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” Yes, the United States faced extraordinary challenges in the postwar era—and was forced to shoulder extraordinary responsibilities. But some steps, once taken, prove impossible to walk back. By 1961 the problem that Eisenhower had identified was well advanced. Already, the United States was spending more on military security than the net income of all American corporations combined.
In the years since, the trend has warped virtually every aspect of national life, with consequences that are quite radical in their cumulative effect on the economy, on the vast machinery of official secrecy, on the country’s sense of itself, and on the very nature of national government in Washington. And yet the degree to which America has changed is noticed by almost no one—not in any visceral way. The transformation has taken hold too gradually and over too long a period. Almost no one alive today has a mature, firsthand memory of a country that used to be very different—that was not a superpower; that did not shroud the workings of its government in secrecy; that did not use ends-justify-the-means logic to erode rights and liberties; that did not undertake protracted wars on the president’s say-so; that had not forgotten how to invest in urgent needs at home; that did not trumpet its greatness even as its shortcomings became more obvious. An American today who is 25 or 50 or even 75—such a person has lived entirely in the America we have become." Todd S. Purdum, January 2012 Vanity Fair: "One Nation Under Arms"
From Manifest Destiny to Afghanistan, the film explores the symbiotic relationship between the rise of American capitalism and the rise of America’s global military presence. Many of the repeated uses of American military force in opening up and securing foreign territories for American capitalists and entrepreneurs are recalled. The chronology of this “bayonet capitalism” is further supported by the on-camera interviews with:
Author, professor, and lecturer, Andrew Bacevich, Washington Rules: America’s Path To Permanent War and The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War and
Anti-war activist and lecturer, Lt. Col. Robert Bowman, USAF (retired). Dr. Bowman was the former director of Advanced Space Programs Development (Star Wars).
The Producers are working to secure the voice-over talents of confirmed activists Martin Sheen, to narrate this documentary, and Ed Asner to voice the character of Major Gen. Smedley Butler. When Gen. Butler retired from the Marines in 1934 he was (and remains) the most decorated Marine in history. It was Gen. Butler’s subsequent memoir, War Is A Racket, which would become his true legacy, however. Here he laments his time in uniform as, “a high-class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers”.
"Making a Killing" takes a gloves-off look at the strangle hold that America’s military-industrial complex has deployed both within its own borders and around the globe.
The Draft Script
Smedley Butler (Maj. Gen. U.S. Marines - 1935)
Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940), nicknamed "The Fighting Quaker" and "Old Gimlet Eye", was a Major General in the U.S. Marine Corps, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America during the Banana Wars, the Caribbean and during World War I, he served in France. By the end of his career he had received 16 medals, five of which were for heroism. He is one of 19 people to twice receive the Medal of Honor, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal and the Medal of Honor, and the only person to be awarded the Brevet Medal and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions.
"War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one is which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small ”inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes . . . but the cost of operations is always transferred to the people who do not profit."
"At the dawning of the twenty-first century, it can truly be said that the sun never sets on the American military. In addition to the troops deployed in active combat zones, over a quarter-of-a-million U.S. military personnel are stationed on over seven-hundred bases in countries outside of American borders.
Depending on whose accounting you choose to believe, between twenty-five and fifty cents of every dollar in the Federal budget is spent on the military. Each year, the American taxpayers provide roughly one-trillion dollars to the Pentagon; a sum nearly equal to the military spending of the rest of the nations of the world combined.
When the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of the twentieth century, leaving the United States as the world’s only super power, the predicted “peace dividend” of reduced military spending-and-presence failed to materialize. Today, the United States spends roughly the same percentage of its GDP on the military as it did during the height of the cold war.
And yet it seems that the American people have never felt more vulnerable to attack on their own shores. The tragedies of September 11, 2001 proved dramatically that, for all of our superior armaments, sophisticated spy satellites, and unparallel military presence, the lives of the American people could be at the mercy of a band of fundamentalist zealots.
Since that fateful day, many questions of, “what went wrong?”, “what should have been done?”, “who’s to blame?”, and “how best to extract revenge?” have been pondered relentlessly. The one question which has never become a part of the national dialogue, however, is, “Why?”. Why would a relatively small band of people train for years, spend their meager resources, travel half-way around the globe, and sacrifice their lives to inflict harm on the American homeland? Perhaps a clue lies in our history.
From the beginning, the American revolutionaries who broke away from the bonds of King George and the British Empire were not to be content with the meager territory of the original thirteen colonies."
William Giles (U.S. Congress - MD 1846)
William Giles A lawyer from Maryland, William Giles was born in 1807. He only service one term in Congress before becoming a judge for the rest of his life. An officer of the American Colonization Society, he promoted the emigration of free Black people from the United States to Liberia on the African coast.
>> Learn more : http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=G000184
“We must march from ocean to ocean. It is the destiny of the white race.”
"There was a sense among the newly-independent colonists that they were preordained to rule all of the North American continent; a sentiment which would become known as “Manifest Destiny”. And rule the continent they would. Despite the Native Americans who had been living there for generations, the Americans marched west, slaughtering tens of thousands of men, women, and children.
Not only were the Native Americans decimated and driven from their lands but, by the mid-nineteenth century, the United States had taken nearly half of the territory which had belonged to Mexico. Many in Congress glorified the war against Mexico as promoting, quote, “Anglo Saxon democracy”. Many, however, saw this aggression as nothing more than a quest for gold and the hunger for new lands by the Southern slave owners. So prolific was the Americans’ resistance to the Mexican war that General Zachary Taylor ordered the executions of many soldiers for refusing to fight.
Although the American territory now stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The hunger for new lands didn’t subside. American entrepreneurs were now producing more than could be consumed within their own borders. New markets were needed."
(US Senate - CT 1894) Orville Hitchcock Platt (July 19, 1827 - April 21, 1905) was a United States Senator from Connecticut. Born in Washington, Connecticut, he attended the common schools and graduated from The Gunnery in Washington. He studied law in Litchfield, and was admitted to the bar in 1850, commencing practice in Towanda, Pennsylvania. He moved to Meriden, Connecticut in 1850 and continued to practice law. He was clerk of the Connecticut Senate in 1855 and 1856, Secretary of the State of Connecticut in 1857, and a member of the State senate in 1861 and 1862. He was a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1864 and 1869, and served as speaker in the latter year.
"I firmly believe that when any territory outside the present territorial limits of the United States becomes necessary for our defense or essential for our commercial development, we ought to lose no time in acquiring it."
"And so the symbiotic relationship between the American capitalists and the American military was codified in the hearts and minds of the people. Whether domestically or abroad, the use of military force to promote and protect the interests of the industrialists, became assumed.
And, as it is the nature of capitalism to grow and expand, so too it became the duty of the military to usher that growth and expansion through times of resistance."
(Ass’t. Secretary of The Navy - 1897) Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt (pronounced /ˈroʊzəvɛlt/ ROE-zə-velt; October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919) was the 26th President of the United States. He is noted for his energetic personality, range of interests and achievements, leadership of the Progressive Movement, and his "cowboy" image and robust masculinity. He was a leader of the Republican PartyProgressive ("Bull Moose") Party of 1912. Before becoming President (1901–1909) he held offices at the municipal, state, and federal level of government. Roosevelt's achievements as a naturalist, explorer, hunter, author, and soldier are as much a part of his fame as any office he held as a politician. and founder of the short-lived
"I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one."
"And war he would have. The following year, in 1898, America recognized an opportunity to seize Spain’s prized territories of Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. Rebel forces in these territories had been battling Spain for independence for several years and were on the verge of winning when the United States declared its alliance with the rebels. When Spain recognized their inevitable defeat and capitulated, the United States swooped in to claim its spoils. But territorial independence was not the American objective."
(U.S. Senate - IN 1900) Albert Jeremiah Beveridge (October 6, 1862 – April 27, 1927) was an American historian and United States Senator from Indiana. He was born in Highland County, Ohio and his parents moved to Indiana soon after his birth, and his boyhood was one of hard work. Securing an education with difficulty he eventually became a law clerk in Indianapolis, was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1887 and practiced law in Indianapolis. He graduated from Indiana Asbury University (now DePauw University) in 1885, with a Ph.B. degree. He was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He was known as a compelling orator, delivering speeches supporting territorial expansion by the U.S. and increasing the power of the federal government.
"The Philippines are ours forever and just beyond the Philippines are China’s illimitable markets. The Pacific is our ocean. The power that rules the Pacific is the power that rules the world. That power is, and will forever be, the American Republic."
"But Senator Beveridge was not content with simply declaring America’s newly-extended Manifest Destiny, he also felt obligated to justify it."
"We are the ruling race of the world. We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race; trustee under God of the civilization of the world. He has marked us as his chosen people. He has made us adept in government that we may administer government among savage and senile peoples."
"But the American army was not welcomed as liberators by the Philippine people. They fought against this new occupation just as they had fought against the Spanish. By the time America had finished “liberating” the Filipinos, over 600,000 of them lay dead.
Not all Americans supported the imperialistic expansionism that was driving the nation at the end of the nineteenth century, however. In a letter to a prominent expansionist, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie wrote:"
Andrew Carnegie (properly pronounced /kɑrˈneɪɡi/ kar-NAY-gee, but commonly, /ˈkɑrnɨɡi/ KAR-nə-gee or /kɑrˈnɛɡi/ kar-NEH-gee) (25 November 1835 – 11 August 1919) was a Scottish-American industrialist, businessman, entrepreneur and a major philanthropist.
Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Scotland and migrated to the United States as a child with his parents. His first job in the United States was as a factory worker in a bobbin factory. Later, he became a bill logger for the owner of the company. Soon after he became a messenger boy. Eventually he progressed up the ranks of a telegraph company. He built Pittsburgh's Carnegie Steel Company, which was later merged with Elbert H. Gary's Federal Steel Company and several smaller companies to create U.S. Steel. With the fortune he made from business, he later turned to philanthropy and interests in education, founding the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Carnegie Mellon University and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.
"Congratulations. You seem to have about finished your work of civilizing the Filipinos. It is thought that about eight thousand of them have been completely civilized and sent to heaven. I hope you like it."
"Celebrated humorist and author, Mark Twain, routinely chastised the United States for its imperialist expansions in the Caribbean and Pacific, and served as the vice-president of the Anti-Imperialist League. He viewed the true purposes behind these American interventions as . . ."
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry FinnGreat American Novel", and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876). Twain was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty. (1885), called "the
Twain was popular, and his wit and satire earned praise from critics and peers. Upon his death he was lauded as the "greatest American humorist of his age", and William Faulkner called Twain "the father of American literature".
" . . . to send out an army – ostensibly to help the native patriots put the finishing touch upon their long and plucky struggle for independence, but really to take their land away from them and keep it. That is, in the interest of progress and civilization."
William Howard Taft (President of the United States)
William Howard Taft (September 15, 1857 – March 8, 1930) was the 27th President of the United States and later the 10th Chief Justice of the United States. He is the only person to have served in both offices. Born in 1857 in Cincinnati, Ohio, into the powerful Taft family, "Big Bill" graduated from Yale College Phi Beta Kappa in 1878, and from Cincinnati Law School in 1880. He worked in a number of local non-descript legal positions until he was tapped to serve on the Ohio Supreme Court in 1887. In 1890, Taft was appointed Solicitor General of the United States and in 1891 a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In 1900, President William McKinley appointed Taft Governor-General of the Philippines. In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Taft Secretary of War with the hope that he might groom Taft, his then close political ally, into his hand picked presidential successor.
"I accept responsibility for active intervention to secure for our capitalists opportunity for profitable investment."
"The Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico were formally declared to be U.S. colonies in 1898 and, while America gave Cuba its “independence”, that freedom came wrapped in the Platt Amendment; a document which declared that the United States would operate a naval base in Cuba forever, that the US Marines would intervene in Cuban affairs at will, and that Washington would determine Cuba’s foreign and financial policies. As U.S. presence spread throughout the Pacific, many Americans were drawn to the tropical paradise of the Hawaiian Islands and entrepreneurs soon developed expansive pineapple plantations there.
When the ruling Hawaiian monarchy refused to renew the “Reciprocity Treaty” with the U.S., because of a new amendment which would have allowed a permanent U.S. Naval base on the island of Oahu, America imposed what would become known as the “Bayonet Constitution”.
This new constitution stripped the Monarchy of much of its authority, imposed significant income and property requirements for voting, and completely disenfranchised all Asians from voting. A provisional government, headed by American pineapple entrepreneur, Sanford B. Dole, was put in its place.
As local resistance to this new government grew, America invaded the islands in 1893 to protect this new “democracy”. Hoping to avoid bloodshed, Queen Liliuokalani ceded authority to the United States."
Liliʻuokalani (2 September 1838 – 11 November 1917), born Lydia Kamakaʻeha Kaola Maliʻi Liliʻuokalani, was the last monarch and only queen regnant of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. She was also known as Lydia Kamakaʻeha Pākī, with the chosen royal name of Liliʻuokalani, and her married name was Kaolupoloni K. Dominis.
"Now to avoid any collision of armed forces, and perhaps the loss of life, I do this under protest and, impelled by said force, yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representatives and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the Constitutional Sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands."
"With the American empire now stretching from the Caribbean to the Pacific, the construction of a canal connecting the two bodies of water took on a new urgency. When Vice-President, Theodore Roosevelt, took over the Presidency at the assassination of William McKinley, he made the canal his number one priority. He offered to buy the isthmus from its then-owner, Colombia, and build the canal with the understanding of a permanent American presence in the canal zone. Colombia rebuked the offer but Roosevelt was determined to obtain the fifty-mile strip of land by any means necessary."
"I was prepared to . . . at once occupy the Isthmus anyhow, and proceed to dig the canal. But I deemed it likely that there would be a revolution in Panama soon."
"And a revolution there was. As soon as the chief engineer of the New Panama Canal Company organized a local revolt, Roosevelt sent in the battleship Nashville and a detachment of Marines to ensure that the rebels would be able to seize control of the isthmus. Once the American-backed rebels achieved the upper hand, this new ‘government’ quickly accepted Roosevelt’s offer to buy the isthmus of Panama and the canal was begun.
This American, military intervention was hardly an isolated incident in the Caribbean region. In the thirty-six years between 1898 and 1934, American Marines invaded Cuba four times; Nicaragua five times; Honduras seven times; the Dominican Republic four times; Haiti twice; Guatemala once; Panama twice; Mexico three times; and Colombia four times.
In many of these countries, the Marines stayed on as an occupying army for decades and, upon their eventual retreat, a brutal dictator, friendly to American business interests at the expense of the life and liberty of his own people, would often be left behind.
But the imperialistic ambitions of the United States were by no means limited to the Caribbean and Pacific. During this same time, the Marines invaded China, Russia, and North Africa.
In many of the newly-acquired territories, business executives quickly established plantations, oil wells, and mining claims and depended on the Marines to return in the event of a strike or rebellion at the often-slave-like working conditions.
The ultimate goal of securing American business interests through American military superiority was thinly veiled."
Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924) was the 28th President of the United States. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton UniversityGovernor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913. With Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft dividing the Republican Party vote, Wilson was elected President as a Democrat in 1912. He is the only U.S. President to hold a Ph.D. degree, which he obtained from Johns Hopkins University. from 1902 to 1910, and then as the
In his first term, Wilson persuaded a Democratic Congress to pass the Federal Reserve Act, Federal Trade Commission Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act, the Federal Farm Loan Act and America's first-ever federal progressive income tax in the Revenue Act of 1913. Wilson brought many white Southerners into his administration, and tolerated their expansion of segregation in many federal agencies.
Narrowly re-elected in 1916, Wilson's second term centered on World War I. He based his re-election campaign around the slogan "he kept us out of the war", but U.S. neutrality was challenged in early 1917 when the German government proposed to Mexico a military alliance in a war against the U.S., and began unrestricted submarine warfare, sinking, without warning, every American merchant ship its submarines could find. Wilson in April 1917 asked Congress to declare war.
"I support the righteous conquest of foreign markets."
"Beginning with Andrew Johnson, the U.S. had actively sought to establish a naval base on the island of Haiti. A military presence there was seen as strategic in America‘s efforts to control their defensive and economic stake in the West Indies. Fearful of foreign intentions, however, the Haitians continually refused American overtures. Several of the imperialist powers of the day were vying for economic and military control of Haiti and, to America’s great concern, Germany seemed to be winning. Many Germans were marrying Haitians in order to circumvent local laws denying foreign land ownership.
Political and economic instability on the island was enough to prompt President Wilson to send in the Marines in 1914. Once there, they promptly marched in to the Haitian National Bank, removed a half-million dollars and took it to New York for ‘safe keeping’.
The takeover was concluded with the Haitian-American treaty of 1915. This accord created a gendarmerie of both Haitian and American military personnel who were controlled by the U.S. Marines. The gendarmerie engaged in racial segregation, press censorship, and forced labor.
In addition, the U.S. had full control over Haitian finances and could intervene militarily in Haiti any time the U.S. deemed it necessary. Leaving nothing to chance, America forced the ‘election’ of pro-American President, Philippe Dartiguenave; a choice which did not set well with the Haitian people.
When President Wilson tried to strong-arm the Haitian legislature into adopting a new constitution which would allow foreign ownership of Haitian property, the legislature declined and began drafting their own anti-American constitution. Not to be outdone, the United States forced President Dartiguenave to simply dissolve the Haitian legislature, which did not meet again for twelve years.
While some few men were able to make vast fortunes under the new Haitian government, the vast majority of the people lived in dire poverty. Uprisings continued to be common and were summarily put down by the gendarmerie. In all, fifty-thousand Haitians were killed during the American occupation.
A reporter on the scene at one of the uprisings described it this way."
"American Marines opened fire with machine guns from airplanes on defenseless Haitian villages, killing men, women, and children in the open market places for sport."
"One of the Marines who was part of the US forces in Haiti was Major General Smedley Butler. General Butler also saw action in the Philippines, Mexico, China, and the first World War. By the time he retired, General Butler had become the most decorated Marine in history. But it was his reflections upon his time in the Marines which would be the lasting legacy of Major General Smedley Butler."
"I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service . . .And, during that period, I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. Thus, I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street.
I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1902 through 1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927, I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested."
"General Butler would not be the last celebrated American General to warn about the dangers of entangling the American military and industry.
As American industrialists expanded their holdings and investments beyond our borders during the early years of the twentieth century, the duty of the American military to promote and protect these private investments for the power elite became axiomatic in Congress, the White House, and board rooms across the country.
But the American government was equally prepared to flex military muscle within our own borders, if the stability of a corporate interest was at stake. Never was this “bayonet-capitalism” more in evidence than in the Ludlow Massacre of 1914. When workers went on strike against the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, complaining of unsafe mines and feudal living conditions, they were evicted from their company-owned homes. Hundreds of the striking miners and their families set up a tent city just outside of nearby Ludlow, Colorado. The campsite ultimately became a flimsy fortress in a standoff against armed militia who were ordered there to force the workers back in to the Rockefeller-owned mines. Late one night, militia forces doused the campsite with kerosene and set fire to the tents, gunning down men, women, and children as they fled the flames.
Hardly an isolated incident, the massacre would become emblematic of the draconian response from government militia throughout decades of labor and racial struggles in the first half of the twentieth century. Later that same year, President Wilson wasted no time in protecting the Rockefeller’s oil interests in Mexico when the Mexican Revolution threatened the stability of the petroleum-rich state of Tampico. On grounds which would later become known as totally fraudulent, the President ordered a U.S. warship to invade the nearby port of Veracruz, Mexico. The President hoped to control the flow of arms through the port and effect the outcome of the Revolution to America’s economic advantage. When the Mexican civilians resisted the American invasion however, a bloodbath ensued; leaving untold numbers of Mexican civilians slaughtered by the massive guns from the ship.
In 1916, Woodrow Wilson was elected to a second term as President on the platform that he had, “kept us out of war”. Ironically, six months later, he would ask Congress to declare war on Germany.
But the American people had developed a decidedly isolationist philosophy. The majority of the people wanted nothing to do with the latest imperialistic land grab in Europe. When the call went out for a million young men to put on uniforms, only seventy-three thousand showed up. Congress quickly passed The Conscription Act, a compulsory military draft.
A few weeks later, The Espionage Act was passed, allowing the Justice Department to pay private companies to spy on Americans, looking for disloyal subversives. Public speech against the war could lead to years in prison. Men who wouldn’t fight for religious reasons, Quakers, Amish, and conscientious objectors were imprisoned and often tortured.
Wilson’s, “War To Make The World Safe For Democracy”, struck American women as particularly ironic, given that they still did not have the democratic right to vote. Thousands banned together and the Suffragette Movement was born.
So why the sudden and dramatic shift in the President’s philosophy? Not surprisingly, the reasons were largely economic. While most Americans were firmly against involving the country militarily, most industrialists were quite happy with the fortunes pouring in from supporting the war effort against Germany.
As the war dragged on and the treasuries of the embattled countries dwindled, they looked to American banks to fund the effort and billions of dollars were sent to Europe. American munitions makers, manufacturers, speculators, exporters, and bankers were forced to extend large amounts of credit. So, when it was determined that, without America’s military involvement the Germans would win and all of the monies would be lost, the government became very pro war."
Gen. Smedley Butler
"Our boys were sent off to die with beautiful ideals painted in front of them. No one told them that dollars and cents were the real reason they were marching off to kill and die."
One-hundred-thirty thousand young American men lost their lives along the trenches of Europe.Meanwhile, back at home, twenty-one-thousand new American millionaires were made.
After the war ended, the oil-rich lands of the five-hundred-year old Ottoman Empire were divided up between, primarily, England and France. New boundaries were drawn and the countries of Iraq and Syria were born. The Arabs who had been living there for centuries were betrayed in the promises of post-war independence; a move which would have international ramifications for many years to come.
Less than twenty years later, Europe was once again embroiled in the horrors of war as Nazi Germany launched massive assaults against its neighbors in an attempt to avenge the perceived wrongs by the previous war’s victors in their divisions of territory and power.
In Italy, Mussolini’s Fascists had joined with Germany in their quest for imperial domination over Europe, Africa, and, eventually, the world.
Half way around the world, Japan joined forces, launching imperialistic ambitions of their own.
Despite the grim specter of global domination by foreign forces, most Americans were buried in the midst of the Great Depression and remained isolationists in their views of the conflicts elsewhere.
The U.S. often joined with England and France in their appeasements of Hitler’s demands. In 1936, a Senate resolution objecting to Germany’s treatment of the Jews was buried in committee at the request of the State Department.
Although publicly invoking the Neutrality Act, in March of 1941, the United States began secretly shipping armaments to, and providing military escorts for, the British and Russians. By 1941, three-quarters of the value of U.S. military contracts were handled by only fifty-six corporations.
While business was once again good for those few elite companies supplying the war effort, little was accomplished to lessen unemployment and poverty.
It would take the cataclysmic events of December 7, 1941 to coalesce the American government and people into a single-minded force, dedicated to eradicating the Nazis, Fascists, and Imperialist Japanese. Many historians have concluded that President Franklin Roosevelt and his military advisors knew of the strong possibility of a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor but decided to let history take its course and force the American nation into the war for the good of the nation and of the world.
In the end, the Allied Forces would prevail, thanks in part to the selfless sacrifices of millions of Americans, overseas and at home. By war’s end, over three-hundred twenty-thousand Americans would be killed or wounded in Europe, Africa, and the Pacific.
Back home, women manned the factories, kids collected tin and copper, and gardens were dug for the effort. Everyone performed their sacrifice for what would become known as, “The Last Good War”. Everyone sacrificed, that is, except for the ten corporations who would take in over forty per-cent of the one-billion dollars spent by the Pentagon.
For them, war was very good for business and peace became the enemy of the newly-created defense industry.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (pronounced /ˈaɪzənˌhaʊər/ EYE-zən-how-ər; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was a five-star general in the United States Army and the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961, and the last to be born in the 19th century. During World War II, he served as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe, with responsibility for planning and supervising the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944–45, from the Western Front. In 1951, he became the first supreme commander of NATO.
"This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government . . .Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, 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."
"Barely two decades after Smedley Butler’s chilling assessment of the rampant misuse of American military forces, another highly-decorated war General had delivered a stern warning to the American people; a warning which would go largely ignored as the military-industrial complex would continue to grow in size and political clout.
During the subsequent Cold War standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union, fears of imminent nuclear annihilation provided a “blank check” mentality toward military spending. The Pentagon’s budget would account for over half of the total federal budget for the entire decade of the fifties.
Fear of Soviet reprisal forced American imperialistic ventures to become covert. No longer would the President simply send in the Marines to fix the problem.
President Harry S. Truman
Shortly after World War II ended, the U.S. Government took steps to reorganize and consolidate national security. President Truman summarized the need in a message to Congress in December, 1945.
“Technological developments have made the Armed Services much more dependent upon each other than ever before. The boundaries that once separated the Army’s battlefield from the Navy’s battlefield have been virtually erased…. True preparedness now means preparedness not alone in armaments and numbers of men, but preparedness in organization also.”
President Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 and reorganized military forces by merging the Department of War and the Department of the Navy into the National Military Establishment (later the Department of Defense) and creating the U.S. Air Force. The act also created the CIA and the National Security Council.
From that time until the present, the CIA has secretly engineered dozens of coups around the world, designed to change the political climates of foreign countries to one more friendly to American corporate interests.
To this end, they have used every trick in the book: propaganda, stuffed ballot boxes, purchased elections, extortion, blackmail, kidnapping, beatings, torture, intimidation, economic sabotage, death squads and even assassination.
Often the “threat of communism” was cited as the rationalization for these interventions but to much of the rest of the world, they were nothing more than undeclared wars against the peasants of the various countries who were trying to wrest control of their natural resources away from foreign imperialists.
In 1951, the Parliament of Iran elected Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh as the country’s new Prime Minister. Seeking to establish a Parliamentary Democracy for Iran, Dr. Mossadegh became known as the Iranian George Washington. He was even Time magazine’s “Man of The Year” for 1952. When he nationalized the oil industry, which had been seized by the British at the end of the first World War, however, he quickly became an enemy of the vast petroleum industries of England and America and thus an obstacle to be removed.
And so it fell to the CIA to remove Mossadegh and make the oil resources once again safe for Western corporations. Coincidentally, at that time, the CIA was headed by Allen Dulles, who had recently worked as an attorney representing the Rockefeller Oil Empire which had vast holdings in those oil fields. Using every dirty and illegal trick in their play book, the CIA was able to stage a coup and have Mossadegh overthrown. In addition, they were able to remove the country’s ruling Shah and replace him with Shah Reza Pahlavi.
Only days after the bloody coup, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company was renamed British Petroleum and forty per-cent of the business was transferred to American oil interests. With American financial, military, and intelligence backing, the new Shah would rule Iran for the next twenty-six years. And, while his brutal, corrupt, and oppressive regime did keep the oil fields safe for his Western allies, it was a maneuver which would result in cataclysmic repercussions.
The following year, the CIA moved its clandestine operations closer to home. When Jacobo Arbenz, the democratically-elected President of Guatemala, proposed his plans to redistribute unused lands to the peasants of the country and upset the Rockefeller-owned United Fruit Company, the U.S. issued what would become a frequent rallying cry, “Communism was threatening to take over the world“. And, once again, CIA director, Allen Dulles, who just happened to be a stock holder in United Fruit Company, set in motion a series of covert operations involving organizing, arming, and training resistance fighters. distributing propaganda, bribing officials, kidnapping, murder, torture, and worse.
These tactic, which would become boiler-plate for the CIA over the next three decades, eventually brought down the Arbenz presidency; ending Guatemala’s first attempts at democracy; what was know as Ten Years of Spring. A series of brutal but corporate-friendly dictators succeeded Arbenz and, over the next four decades, tens of thousands of Guatemalans died or disappeared under their rule.
America’s actions were decried by her allies throughout the world with charges of “economic colonialism”.
Many of the Central and South American foot soldiers and commanders during this time were graduates of the School of The Americas; a highly-specialized program run out of Ft. Benning, an Army base in Georgia. For forty years following the end of World War II, the School of The Americas trained tens-of-thousands of Central and South Americans in counter insurgency warfare.
Throughout the region, well-trained and well-armed militaries were at the call of the CIA’s hand-selected leaders. Any and all insurgents, who may be demanding lands or rights which had been taken from them, were quashed by any means necessary. Allegations of human rights abuses were abundant. The region stayed safe for the free flow of business, however. In a public relations maneuver, The School of The Americas changed its name in 2001 to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.
The UN would denounce the thinly-veiled American aggression, but to little avail.
From 1954 to 1958, the CIA worked to overthrow the communist government of North Vietnam and to prop up the oppressive puppet regime in the south. “Fighting Communism” was once again the mantra as the CIA spent thirteen years trying to nullify the democratic elections in Laos.
The infamous Air America was born and clandestinely supported what is still the largest operation in CIA history. By the end, the U.S. secretly dropped more bombs on Laos than it did during all of World War Two. One-fourth of all Laotians became refugees. Many were driven to live in caves.
When American forces finally left Haiti in 1935, they were careful to leave it in the friendly hands of the National Guard and from that sprang the bloody reign of Papa Doc Duvalier. While his “Tonton Macoute” killed an estimated one-hundred-thousand Haitians during his reign, the United States never uttered a word about human rights violations. Papa Doc was careful to keep U.S. economic interests safe. When his son, Baby Doc, became President for Life upon Papa Doc’s death, there grew a groundswell of opposition in Haiti until, recognizing the inevitable revolution, President Reagan had Baby Doc whisked away to a retirement villa in France in 1986 and began talking about “the democratic process”.
In 1990, Haiti went to the polls and democratically elected Jean Bertrand Aristide president. This left-wing Catholic priest was not the candidate that the George Bush white house had in mind for the Presidency and, not surprisingly, eight months later, Aristide was deposed in a coup d’etat. He claims to have been kidnapped by U.S. soldiers who told him that, in order to save his life, they must remove him from the country. It proved to be a one-way trip.
In 1961 alone, the CIA staged the failed military action in Cuba which would become known as the Bay of Pigs, a coup d’etat in Ecuador, and presidential assassinations in both The Dominican Republic and the Congo, later renamed Zaire. In 1963, the CIA would once again orchestrate coups in Ecuador and The Dominican Republic and replace both Presidents with repressive, right-wing military juntas which would spend the following years in egregious human-rights abuses.
The following year, the CIA staged the overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Brazil, and replaced it with the bloodthirsty, General Castelo Branco. His CIA-trained death squads were responsible for thousands of deaths and tortures, all in the name of fighting communism. Many of those “communists”, however, would prove to be nothing more than Branco’s political opponents.
In 1965, the CIA overthrew the democratically elected Indonesian president, Sukarno. His successor, General Suharto, would go on to massacre between five-hundred-thousand to one-million civilians accused of being communists. The CIA supplied the names of countless suspects.
In that same year, when a popular rebellion broke out in the Dominican Republic, promising to reinstall Juan Bosch as the country’s elected leader, the revolution is crushed when U.S. Marines land to uphold the military regime by force. The CIA directed everything behind the scenes.
In 1973, when democratically-elected Chilean President Salvador Allende nationalizes American-owned firms, he is overthrown and assassinated by the CIA who replaces him with General Augusto Pinochet, a brutal man who would torture and murder thousands of his own countrymen in a crackdown on labor leaders, the political left, and anyone who would interfere with American business interests.
By 1979, resentment against the Shah of Iran had grown so massive that he had to be removed from the country. Muslim fundamentalists seized power in his absence and, as revenge for the brutal reign of the American-imposed Shah, kidnap fifty-two American from the U.S. embassy in Tehran. Working on the principle that, “an enemy of my enemy is my friend”, the U.S. pours millions of dollars of arms, training, and intelligence in to the Government of Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein. With U.S. encouragement and backing, Hussein invades Iran and an eight-year war ensues. Even knowing that Hussein was killing his own people, often with illegal poison gas, the U.S. continues to support and defend the dictator. It isn’t until he invades America’s friend, Kuwait, that the U.S. decides to step in, driving Iraq’s forces back in to their own country but leaving Saddam Hussein in power. He might have been a brutal dictator but he was our brutal dictator.
Also in 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and the CIA quickly set out to train and arm any-and-every Muslim fundamentalist willing to shoulder an arm against the Soviets. Among these fundamentalists were Abdel Rahman, mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and Osama Bin Laden, alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Also in 1979, the citizens of Nicaragua finally overthrow the brutal, CIA-backed dictator, Anastasio Somoza. The Marxist Sandinistas take over government and set in motion plans to provide more health care, education, and land to the peasants. The remnants of Somoza’s murderous and hated personal army called the National Guard would take to the hills and become known as the Contras.
For much of the following decade, the Reagan administration would illegally fund and support the Contras in their efforts to regain military control of Nicaragua. Strategic arms were illegally sold to Iran with much of those profits being diverted to illegally fund the Contras. The CIA would transport illegal drugs in to the U.S. and use the profits to provide arms to the Contras.
The American-backed President of Panama, Manuel Noriega, a School-of-The-Americas success story, had been on the CIA payroll and knowingly trafficking in drugs since 1966. When he became too independent and intransigent, however, he had to go. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush ordered American forces to Panama to remove Noriega and bring him to justice. In the process, thousands of Panamanian citizens were killed and quickly buried in shallow trenches by the American forces.
Fourteen years later, for reasons which may never be truly known, Bush’s son, President George W. Bush, declares Iraq an imminent threat to the U.S. and the rest of the world. Only a pre-emptive military strike against Iraq will prevent Saddam Hussein from unleashing his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, according to the Bush administration. So, in 2003, the U.S. launched an unprovoked military assault against the sovereign nation of Iraq.
It would once again be the US military which would provide some of the most outspoken critics of the war. While three, high-ranking, military personnel resigned on the eve of the American invasion rather than help prosecute this newest war, Col. Ann Wright would become the most outspoken."
Mary Ann Wright (born 1947 (age 62–63)) is a former United States Army colonel and retired official of the U.S. State Department, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She is most noted for having been one of three State Department officials to publicly resign in direct protest of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.
She was a passenger on the Challenger 1, which along with the Mavi Marmara, was part of the Gaza flotilla.
"I believe the Administration's policies are making the world a more dangerous, not a safer, place. I feel obligated morally and professionally to set out my very deep and firm concerns on these policies and to resign from government service as I cannot defend or implement them. In our press for military action now, we have created deep chasms in the international community and in important international organizations. Our policies have alienated many of our allies and created ill will in much of the world.
We should not give extremist Moslems/ Arabs a further cause to hate America, or give moderate Moslems a reason to join the extremists. Additionally, we must reevaluate keeping our military forces in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia. Their presence on the Islamic "holy soil" of Saudi Arabia will be an anti-American rally cry for Moslems as long as the US military remains and a strong reason, in their opinion, for actions against the US government and American citizens."
Months after the invasion, it would become clear that absolutely none of the reasons given for the war were true. That, however, was of little concern to Bush or his staff and advisors. The U.S. had gained control of the second-largest oil reserve in the world and was well on the way to establishing many permanent military installations in the Middle East.
America’s invasion of Afghanistan, which was to have captured Osama Bin Laden and destroy his network of terrorists, eventually became the longest war in US history. Although it was generally agreed that the Islamic-fundamentalist enemy had fled the country for Pakistan, the US, ironically, continued to build its military presence in the country.
A possible motive for this increased military presence came to light in 2010 when it was announced that, beneath the barren Afghan soil, lay trillions of dollars worth or ore and minerals. Perhaps even more alarming than the acceptance of Bush’s doctrine of pre-emption is the ever-increasing privatization of war. By the middle of 2009, well over half of the American personnel conducting the war in Afghanistan were private contractors and mercenaries. During the second World War, by comparison, only aboutfifteen per-cent of the American fighting force was comprised of private contractors.
No longer was war a burden to be shouldered by the country as a whole but rather a shining opportunity for a few select companies to make billions of dollars. Not surprisingly, most of those companies in Iraq and Afghanistan had strong ties to members of the Bush administration.
According to the National Priorities Project, with the over-one-trillion dollars allocated to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 to 2010, the U.S. could have provided full health care coverage for a year to over three-hundred-million Americans or, full, one-year college scholarships to over one-hundred-sixty million Americans or, we could have built over eight-million new affordable housing units.
Instead, America borrowed the money to pursue these wars and the young Americans who were fortunate enough to not be one of the thousands killed in Iraq and Afghanistan will spend the rest of their lives paying it back.
War has now become one of the few growth industries left in the United States and, as long as private corporations stand to make vast fortunes in pursuit of war, they will stop at nothing to make sure that those profit potentials aren’t disturbed by a catastrophic outbreak of peace.
In the last three months of 2009 alone, the top ten defense contractors spent over twenty-seven-million dollars lobbying Congress and the Pentagon. And for the contractors, it was money well spent.
While Boeing spent nearly ten-million dollars lobbying Congress in only six months, they would take in over twenty-three billion dollars in federal contracts for that year. Lockheed Martin did even better, spending only six million in six months and taking in over thirty-five billion in federal contracts for the year.
And the list goes on. So, while a few select companies continue to reap the spoils of war, it is still the American people who pay with their children’s blood and futures.
And so it shall always be until the American people unite in the belief that war must always be the option of last resort. And, when absolutely unavoidable, must be shouldered evenly by all.
Massive profit potentials must be removed from the execution of military conflicts and the total financial burden of wars must be shared equally by all. But most importantly, it must be the children of all, regardless of influence or lack of influence, who are called and must make the ultimate sacrifices, for only then can the real support of the people be gauged.
Interviews for “Making A Killing”
Lt. Col. Robert Bowman
Lt. Col. USAF, Retired
Former Director of Advanced Space Programs Development
Ph.D. Aeronautics and Nuclear Engineering
Anti-War Activist and Lecturer
Professor of Int’l. Relations Boston University
Washington Rules: America’s Path
To Permanent War
The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War
American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of US Diplomacy