Military industrial complex

Amal Chatterjee
7 min readJan 17, 2017
Source : Google photo of a bomb factory in the USA

Synopsis : The countries fight wars for various reasons and to support the war,they set up vast military industrial complexes to make war materials that later become their prime export earners to fuel other wars. Such complexes are never dismantled after the war in the name of preserving jobs so it comes under scrutiny here.

On a day of infamy on December 7, 1941, the skies over Pearl Harbor in Hawaii suddenly filled with fighter bombers with the emblem of the rising sun on their wings. No one knew what was happening but it did not take them long to find out when the bombers dived low over the navy yards and dropped their bombs like rain on unsuspecting sailors who were going about their routine of scrubbing the decks.

They looked up in horror and saw ships after ships ablaze and people dying all around them in very large numbers. This had never happened on American soil until then so there was panic everywhere. The fact that this attack on Pearl Harbor happened as a result of economic warfare that the US was waging on Japan was over looked by the uneducated and the patriots alike and a sense of outrage prevailed that led the US to declare war on Japan soon.

Up until then the war was being fought in Europe to contain or defeat Hitler but now another front opened up gobbling up resources that were meant to fight the war in Europe. The Americans realized for the first time that they had a worthy adversary in Japan that had brought war to their safe and secure shores and had destroyed in a short time the entire Pacific fleet of US war ships and planes on the ground without any inkling of what was to come.

The US government had mobilized their factories to produce war materials to fight the war in Europe which was taking its toll. The Nazi submarines played havoc on supply ships and made a graveyard of them in the Atlantic so they needed more ships, more guns , more bombs and more planes to drop them with. But now with the war with Japan starting in the east, they made more war materials , ships and weapons that McArthur needed to defeat the enemy so the factories worked 24, 7 to produce them in large quantities.

There was such a shortage of rubber, tin, steel and metals of all kinds that people were asked to collect them and the factories then melted them down to make weapons and munitions. The whole country woke up to this new reality that their homeland was under threat for the first time so they had to do what they could to protect it. The citizens of Japanese descent living peacefully were rounded up and placed under guard in concentration camps like Manzanar in the middle of nowhere and the rabble excited by these opportunities looted their beautiful homes and treated their fellow citizens in this abominable way that caused deep and lasting anguish among the people of Japanese descent.

Now let us see what happened after the war was over. Hitler was defeated and people hung Mussolini by the lamp post. But the Japanese were still fighting on in the Pacific and had to be dealt with so a secret group of scientists developed the ultimate weapon of war called the atomic bomb and the eager military men convinced the government that dropping the bomb on Japan was the only way to end the war because they were taking heavy casualties everywhere.

The rest is known. USA was the only country in history to ever use the bomb on civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and left a legacy of death and destruction a single bomb could cause. It ended the war surely so the soldiers could go home to their mundane lives in their backwaters somewhere.

But the military industrial complex that produced the war materials remained and were refurbished after the war to continue to make planes, tanks and bombs that has not stopped since 1945. If anything, it has grown to be the most sophisticated military industrial complex on the planet and has become the number one arms exporter of the country earning them billions of dollars in revenue and keeping hundreds of thousands of people in jobs of making bombs and bullets.

Selling of weapons, planes and tanks to countries that want them to fight their war with their neighbors has kept these factories going and even expanding, such are the demands. The weapons have become more sophisticated and lethal and demand a hefty price tag that many countries are willing to pay to acquire them but it also give USA the power to dictate its terms and conditions for the sale of weapons. If the clients want more of them then they must agree to the terms or else the spare parts and future deliveries might be in jeopardy.

USA has dominated this industry because it is so profitable. When the military hardware are destroyed in a proxy war somewhere, there is no problem. New shipment will be made albeit at a higher price. There is such a demand for the military hardware that the factories in the US cannot supply them fast enough.

The worker who makes bombs and bullets in these vast factories does not care where it goes and where it is used because that is not for him to know. He is just an employee who gets his paycheck on time that keeps him and his family in gravy. The fact that these bombs and bullets are raining down on civilians in the Middle East or somewhere else does not bother him because he just makes them.

If the US does not make war materials then someone else will and supply the clients. The governments make more money from the sale of planes and tanks than the shiploads of food that the poor countries can’t pay for anyway. One fighter jet can cost 150 million dollars that could build thousands of homes, feed a million people for a year or build scores of schools and hospitals but that is not the priority of the seller. It is just good business to make the hardware and sell it to those who want it. What they do with it is not the seller’s problem.

So the United States has not been able to move away from this business of making war materials after the last world war because it is just good business because there is always a war to fight somewhere. Yesterday it was Vietnam, today the Middle East and tomorrow who knows where but surely there will be always wars and it will mean windfall profit for the makers of war materials.

The logic is like what the godfather said in the movie. ” If we don’t sell it, someone else will so we might as well keep control of it”. They were talking about drugs but it could apply to military hardware as well. Many countries spend more money on war materials than on food for the poor, housing, schools and hospitals.

The Pentagon employees number in thousands who control this vast network of factories and what they make. They keep close tabs on the production, schedules, inventory, delivery dates, supply of raw materials to make these weapons and thousand other sundry items. They study new weapon systems, new technologies to make the bombs smarter and kill more people. They study how to automate the wars by the drones and the officers then visit the factories to see what is going on.

These military men who are responsible for the delivery of weapons and planes and tanks to the clients are wined and dined by them to get the most favorable terms and the most lethal of weapons.

People often resort to war to solve their problems of a bad dictator, bad neighboring country or bad something or other instead of talking and negotiating for a solution. Sometimes a war is brought to them even if they did not threaten the US like using the Gulf of Tonkin issue to start the war in Vietnam or using fake reports of WMD that Saddam Hussein was accumulating so he had to be stopped. Who cared if Hans Blix was right and they were wrong? A war had to be fought and money to be made in Iraq.

This is the logic. The money has to be made and the factories must keep on going to keep thousands employed. So as long as this logic is used, there will be always a client somewhere that will justify a new war, a new fake report of WMD or a new Gulf of Tonkin or Persia somewhere.

I could imagine a beautiful world without war, refugees, starvation and mutilation, destruction of once beautiful cities, schools and hospitals. I could imagine what a wonderful world it would be totally at peace where everyone had food, shelter, clothes, education and means to earn a good living. I could imagine a world where there will no more AIDS, Cancer, Malaria and other diseases. But I know that it is a utopian dream and will remain so unless the welfare of people comes first and money making from war comes a distant millionth.

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