End of War: The Military Industrial Complex

Friday, April 06, 2012

William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy and author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of The Military-Industrial Complex, and Fred Kaplan, "War Stories" columnist for Slate and author of 1959: The Year Everything Changed, discuss the military industrial complex and whether cutting corporate influence could stop wars. 


William Hartung and Fred Kaplan

Comments [22]

Scorpiont from New York

Your program is so bias against the American Government and Industry, I have have to laugh every time you mention this and try to use it to bait your guests. You seem to ignore the actual military-industrial complex that supplies weapons to child-soldiers, rebels, terrorists, rogue nations(Iran, Syria, N.Korea just to name a few) with at the minimum, AK-47's and RPGs and possibly the deadly Grinch SA-24s(the Russian copy of the US Stinger shoulder-fired Surface-To-Air missiles all over the world and a threat to commercial aviation). Yes, there is plenty of money involved in US Arm purchases and deliveries but if you figure American items cost as much as 10x-20x more than Russian and Chinese equivalents, we are talking about volume. In volume the Russian and Chinese(plus former Soviet states that manufacture the same type of weapons) just overwhelms the Americans world-wide and in the hands of terrorists and their cohorts, they represent the biggest threat of war in the world and for a long time to come. Just look at all the present conflicts around the world and see what arms are used, I can guarantee you most are fought with arms that are not American-made(or Western-European for than matter).

Apr. 19 2012 12:13 PM
Mike Leffler

Great show but... I was in college during Vietnam. Remember taking a polisci course on the exact same topic. The 'military industrial complex" was also at the top of agenda. Well, unfortunately I have come to the conclusion after study and observance, war is a constant part of the human condition. There was no military-industrial complex during the time of the Greeks/ Romans / Egyptians, etc., etc. War has always been there and will always be there. We do not have the resources; material, intellectual nor spiritual to counterbalance.

Apr. 07 2012 10:28 PM
veronika from brooklyn

Thanks for a very interesting show. It's helpful to learn or remember that most war mongers actually believe, or more like believe they believe, they are acting for a righteous purpose; and sometimes there are very righteous reasons to fight those who we maybe even sometimes rightly feel are even less righteous than we are.

I'd like to offer the hypothesis though, that if their choices were — or are — tied into monetary gain, they'd never admit it to themselves. Rather, there would be — or are — complex psychological hedges. It seems to me that when we tossed out Freud, we tossed out another potential savior of the world with the bath water. Because that's just too hard to think about. Resistance sets in of which we ourselves are not aware. You've opened up a can of worms. If THEY are zombies, then maybe WE are zombies too.

Which relates (still on point) to the second question — why do I celebrate Easter and what good do I think such celebration does for the world. I celebrate Easter because the church I go to has the most exquisite music, and a dramatic bonfire in the garden, and it's sublimely theatrical. Plus before there's confession, and it's cheaper than paying for a shrink to remind me that, yes, despite a thin covering of rationality, mostly I'm a zombie, and we're all zombies.

Okay, it's dangerous, because then I could use this as an excuse, like most of the religious do, to do anything I want. But if the truth is dangerous, it's still the truth, and the truth is, by all accounts, we're all pretty much zombies under a thin veneer of rationality that begins to dissolve whenever our ego or physical wellbeing is at stake. I think it's yet more dangerous to deny this. Only in first admitting we're deeply irrational is there any hope for any depth of rationality.

Every lovely, showy church tower is reaching up to the stars in hopes of winning the lottery of salvation not just for itself but for everybody. It knows the odds are out of this world. That's why therein people, in NY mostly a spattering of poor people speaking Spanish, people with enough common sense to know there's no such thing — are inside are on their knees muttering — love (lord), have mercy on me. I suggest that without knowing you know it, it comforts and edifies everybody, such that slowly slowly slowly, in ways we don't know, it's dawning on people not to judge each other and to trust an invisible spirit that heals the world if we but follow, come hell or high water, the essential credo — love one another and be humble. So caller who celebrates zombie Jesus, you're right on point! Happy Easter fellow zombie! All hail the king of the zombies. All hail dada!

Apr. 06 2012 01:15 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

jawbone, nazi national Socialist Germanys defeat was not a certainty in 1944. Things could have turned out differently. There are no guarantees in war.

Do you think that if national Socialist Germany had the atom bomb they would NOT have used it on its enemies?

And jawbone, do you believe the words of the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran that there are no homosexuals in his Islamic Republic as he told the audience at Columbia University back in 2007?

Apr. 06 2012 01:01 PM

Der Speigel now has the English version out of an article on how and why Gunter Grass's poem is important.

Note: The controversy is not about the sub sale/gift; it is about Grass saying it should not be given to Israel, that Israel endangers regional and world peace. And because, as Edward's comment @ 11:28 shows, when he was 17 years old, in the fall (Ocotber?) of 1944, as the Nazi regime was facing utter defeat, youths Grass's age and younger were enscripted into the military and became cannon fodder. Some have not forgiven Grass for not telling about his being drafted until his old age.,1518,826180,00.html

Apr. 06 2012 12:11 PM
Jim Miller from Irvington, NY

I find all the above comments very interesting. I would like to comment about the naivete expressed by the guests and by Brian concerning the Arms Industry not being very active in talking up war before the Iraq 2003 conflict. Why would they have to act publicly after spending there money and influence getting their candidates elected to Congress? Did Haliburton have to publicly voice an opinion when Dick Cheney was the Vice-President?
As an aside: War will only be abolished when people stop emphasizing the natural aggressiveness of humans and emphasize as the ideal, the aspects of human nature that counter aggressiveness.

Apr. 06 2012 11:48 AM

The Guardian has a new English translation of the Grass poem. A rough rushed translation by a German is also listed below.

Apr. 06 2012 11:47 AM

I urge you to read "Report From Iron Mountain—On the Possibility & Desirability of Peace". It's a short book that was heavily and publicly debated when it first appeared about five decades ago because it introduced concepts that, although anathematic to us leftists, necessarily deepens our thinking.

However apt our (and your) diagnosis of problems and understanding of them, many of us continuously engage in politically correct "blue sky" thoughts about what might be next.

One metaphor from the book that I found compelling: Our economy is like a machine with many working parts that depend on a flywheel to keep it moving. It's the mass of the flywheel—military, defense, preparation for war (hot or cold) spending—that keeps our economies going, and it doesn't work unless it's wasteful. How else to explain how wars and war preparation have always pulled us out of depressions, not to mention war as the fundamental source of the technologies we live by.

It's never been any other way, so whoever advocates warlessness better know what they're talking about! That's what this book is about. It's easy to dismiss it as mere satire or parody, as some do in addenda to it, but is something less true because the Jester said it to the King? It's ONLY the Jester that CAN say it.

Apr. 06 2012 11:45 AM
qwert9 from Bronx

This program is one of the best examples of a symbiosis of the military-industrial complex with the propaganda-entertainment complex at our expense obviously.

Apr. 06 2012 11:44 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Mecca is smaller than Israel.

Apr. 06 2012 11:37 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Naw, no controversy....those Dolphin Class submarines do indeed constitute the 3rd leg of Israel's second strike nuclear umbrella. Duh, it's no secret. The torpedo launch tubes are wide enough to accomodate cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. And that's exactly what they are equipped to do.

Apr. 06 2012 11:32 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

"But in 2006 the author stunned Germany and the world by confessing that he had a buried past. In his autobiography '‘Peeling the Onion,’' he revealed that he had been drafted into the Waffen SS in the final months of World War II. It was an admission for which he was widely condemned because he had kept his Nazi service a secret for more than 60 years while urging other Germans to confront their painful histories."

Apr. 06 2012 11:28 AM

Also interesting is that I guess according to these guests Ike got it wrong?

Apr. 06 2012 11:26 AM

Gunter Grass has just stirred up controversy in Germany by writing a poem criticizing, among other things, Germany's government for selling a nuclear launch capable submarines to Israel. His contention is the main function of the sub would be to attack Iran...with nukes.

Apr. 06 2012 11:25 AM
john D

To what extent is Fred Kaplan's think-tank salary dependent on corporate contributions from the military-industrial complex?

Apr. 06 2012 11:24 AM
Robert Baskerville from mount vernon, ny

Dear Brian,

I'm listening to the comments of the your guests and am a bit bemused by their denials of the catalytic role the military industrial complex and their representative play drumming up support for war.

I will remind them of the expose that appeared in the NY Times in April 2008, entitled, "Message MachineBehind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand," a damning piece of journalism that suggest the military industrial complex paid ex-generals to pound the drums of war on American national tv.

Apr. 06 2012 11:23 AM

What would be the effect on the middle class if the government stopped spending on a global war machine?
½ the federal budget is related to “defense”
And think about all the poor men and women who enter the military to escape poverty. what would become of them?

Apr. 06 2012 11:20 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

M.A.D. (Nutual Assured Destruction) only works if both sides prefer life over death and destruction.

For Islamists, M.A.D. is just a ticket to 72 virgin paradise.

Apr. 06 2012 11:19 AM
antonio from bayside

Are companies like Kellogg Brown and Root included in the MIC?
Because if a f-22 doesn't work, well you can't make it work, but logistical engineering, procurement and construction that a company like the aforementioned KBR bring to the discussion makes me think that they are the problem.

Apr. 06 2012 11:17 AM
Ed from Larchmont

"War is a punishment for sin." Mary at Fatima.

Apr. 06 2012 11:14 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

"discuss the military industrial complex and whether cutting corporate influence could stop wars"

Just as the HEALTHCARE industrial complex and cutting corporate influence could stop ILLNESS.

Apr. 06 2012 11:12 AM

The sad thing is that our economy now is dependent on the provides "good manufacturing jobs."

Coming out of a Great Recession, does anyone seriously believe we'll get rid of it??

Apr. 06 2012 11:11 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.