In his final address to the nation, Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961, Eisenhower pointed to the power of the military industrial complex which even then was playing an increasingly dominant role in defining American politics. (emphasis mine).
Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.
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. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. 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 militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
The present discussion over Gate's proposed military budget shows how far we have come since then in accepting the existence of the military industrial complex as a given in any national debate. The discussion centers on the question of implementation of the policy and the implications of any cuts for the economy. The dirty little secret hidden in the national attic is the unspoken reality that it is military spending that sustains the real economy.