Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.
The military-industrial-congressional complex (MICC) has a huge advantage over its critics. Its proponents are united by greed and power. They know exactly what they want. Like Johnny Rocco in “Key Largo,” they want MORE. More money. More authority. And obviously more weapons and more war.
Whereas critics of the MICC tend to approach the beast from different angles with different emphases. Tactical differences lead to fissures. Fissures prevent coalitions from forming. Unity is lacking, and not for want of trying. And so the MICC rumbles on, unchallenged by any societal force that is remotely its size.
A colleague of mine, Dennis Showalter, was fond of a saying that helps to explain the situation. Critics and intellectuals, he said, have a propensity to see the fourth side of every three-sided problem. Analysis leads to paralysis. The tyranny of small differences prevents unanimity of purpose.
Another key strength of the MICC is reflected in an alternate acronym: the MICIMATT, which adds the intelligence “community,” the mainstream media, academe, and various think tanks to the military, industry, and Congress. To that we might also add the world of sports, entertainment (Hollywood and TV especially), and the very idea of patriotism in America with all its potent symbols. I’d even add Christianity here, the muscular version practiced in the U.S. rather than the compassionate version promulgated by Christ.
When you focus just on the MICC, you miss the wellsprings of its power. It’s not just about greed and authority, it’s about full-spectrum dominance of all aspects of American life and society.
America hasn’t won a major war since World War II, but the MICC has won the struggle for societal dominance in America. Serious challenges to it will require Americans to put aside differences in the name of a greater cause of peace and sanity. The wildcard here, of course, is the ever-present hyping of fear by the MICC.
FDR told Americans the only thing we truly needed to fear was fear itself. Fear paralyzes the mind and inhibits action. Fear is the only darkness, Master Po said in “Kung Fu.”
If we can overcome our fear and our differences to focus on building a more compassionate world, a world in harmony with nature and life, then maybe, just maybe, we can see the foolishness of funding and embracing an MICC based on an unnatural pursuit of destruction and death.
William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools. He writes at Bracing Views.