Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 9. 1965.
Us Threatened By Militarists?
Us Threatened By Militarists?
It Seems difficult to believe that American democracy is being threatened by a power group that has come into existence in the short period since World War II. Yet there is an abundance of evidence which leads to this conclusion.
President Eisenhower, on making his farewell speech as President of the United States, stated that: "In the councils of Government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence ... by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
The President was referring to the power nexus created by the combination of interests in the armament industry with that of the military chiefs. The question now is, what was it that prompted Eisenhower to give such a grave warning?
When the President cut five billion dollars from the Air Force Budget in 1954, the Air Force protested to Congress and the Press. Consequently, Senators found that if they did not vote for the defence fund they lost votes in response to the pressures generated by the campaign.
In 1959 the Air Force claimed that it had perfected an antiaircraft missile called Bomarc; the Army also made similar statements about the Nike-Hercules.
There was, and is, considerable scientific opinion that neither of these systems were adequate. But the rival missile companies, with the approval of the Air Force on the one hand, and the Army on the other, with billions at stake, mounted intense propaganda campaigns to force production. This came at a time just when Congress was debating how many millions might be assigned to Nike and Bomarc.
Thus Eisenhower and Congress were being pressured to spend billions of dollars on missile systems of dubious value.
In January, 1960, there arose the so-called "missile-gap." This was started by General Power. He argued that Russia was so far ahead of America with missiles that it would soon have the capacity to wipe out the United States.
As a result, the whole country was agitated. Again, by coincidence, this came when General Power's Strategic Air Command was trying to get Congress to appropriate to it additional millions of dollars.
Eisenhower denied that there was any missile gap, and military opinion supported him. But Kennedy, in his Presidential campaign, charged that the Republican Administration had let down the country's defence, and he came to office committed to spending more on defence. Out of the 80.9 billion dollars 1962 budget as originally drafted, 59 cents of every dollar was allocated to military purposes.
The chief factor in bringing about the fusion of interests between the armament industry with that of the Military is that, since 1929 America has not had real prosperity except in a war economy. The effect of World War II on industry did not pass unnoticed by American businessmen.
Their view was expressed in 1944 by General Electric's Charles E. Wilson, who suggested an alliance of big business and the military in a "permanent war economy . . . the role of Congress is limited to voting the needed funds."
Stated here, this far in advance was the course that has become today's reality. Senator Douglas cited a graphic example when he accused the Air Force of flying important civilians to air shows at the Nellis Air Force Base at a cost to the taxpayer of 626,074 dollars. Senator Douglas said that the intent was "to help build up a body of permanent lobbyists for the Air Force ..."
Another example was given by Representative Herbert who exposed the function of Aerospace Industries Association which existed only to lobby, and it was financed by arms manufacturers. When the Herbert Committee investigated the Martin Company of Baltimore, it revealed a close co-operation between the arms industry and the military in the awarding of contracts.
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What the company had done was to fly 27 high-ranking military officers to the Bahamas and entertain them; some of whom within 30 days would appear before the Appropriation Committee in support of contracts for the Martin Company.
The Herbert Committee stated that "the Martin Company does not do a dime's worth of work for private business. Every nickel comes from the Government in subsidies. Why should they entertain their only customer, the people they did business with?"
The implications of such arrangements are fundamental to American society. The Air Force uses the taxpayers' funds to promote the Air Force: the air and missile manufacturers use taxpayers' funds to promote their products by assessing their costs to the Government; corporations spend the taxpayers' funds in lobbying and entertainment to promote goodwill and ensure contracts.
The way in which the military work to have their programmes implemented was revealed by a Congressional Committee headed by Forest A. Harness. It declared that the military had broken the law by "using Government Funds in an improper manner for propaganda activities supporting compulsory military training."
The Harness Committee analysed in detail the methods by which the military had sought to sell the programme to the people, with the hope that the people would sell it to Congress. Business leaders were called to "orientation" conferences and came away propagandists for the military. Comics idealising army life were published for children. A women's division was set up within the War Department to win the approval of the women for the conscription of their sons. The committee found that propaganda films were shown costing the taxpayer 85,537 dollars.
There was also an extensive radio and television campaign. Mr. A. Coutts, a New York civilian, was employed by the Army to tour "the country at the taxpayers' expense, conducting radio and television panels and speaking to groups. The panels were dominated by persons selected to speak for CMT" and officers in civilian clothing were planted in audiences to ask military leaders the right questions.
Despite this campaign for CMT, Congress rejected it in 1947. The military now made a different approach. Speeches were made to frighten people. Lieutenant-General Groves testified that in the first five hours of an atomic attack 40 million Americans would be killed. General Collins said that "we would have chaos, civil disorder and sabotage." The effect of this and similar statements was to convince Americans that World War III was upon them.
The insincerity of the military is revealed when one realises that military leaders had stated that Russia did not have the atomic bomb and could not make it for another 10 to 15 years; nor was there any chance of Russia attacking America with conventional weapons. Yet in defiance of this, the military kept picturing the imminence of an attack as a justification for CMT. In the end, the Compulsory Military Training Bill became law.
The significance of this, is that the military, historically limited to execution of policy, had now begun to influence public opinion and to dominate Congress. The military used public funds to convert them to the military view.
No longer could Congress hold a check rein on the military, for the military now went over the heads of state to the public, influencing by propaganda the electorate on whom Congressmen depend for votes. This has resulted in American foreign policy becoming a military one based on containment with the military technique of massive retaliation.—J. Gates.