America’s Perpetual War Machine: Money, Munitions, and Mayhem

Friday, October 26, 2012
By Paul Martin

Tim Kelly
October 26, 2012

On January 17, 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower delivered a televised farewell address to the nation where he admonished the American people saying:

We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions…we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. 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. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted.

Eisenhower was certainly not the first American to acknowledge the cash nexus between war and profit but he was perhaps the most prominent. His address channeled the conclusions of the Nye Committee, the U.S. Senate subcommittee chaired by Gerald Nye in the 1930’s that investigated the financial interests which underlay America’s entry into World War I.

During the interwar period (1918 to 1939), numerous books and articles were published arguing that arms manufacturers and certain banking interests, the so-called “Merchant’s of Death”, had conspired to draw the United States into war in order to protect and maximize their profits. Most famous of these was General Smedley Butler’s War is a Racket.

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