02 May 2011

The Military Nation and the Militarized University

Some rare, sober notes from the halls of power in Washington D.C.--from four decades ago, and because so many have learned so little, with the only change witnessed being one of magnitude, the words retain their resonance today:
"When the university turns away from its central purpose and makes itself an appendage to the Government, concerning itself with techniques rather than purposes, with expedients rather than ideas, dispensing conventional orthodoxy rather than new ideas, it is not only failing to meet its responsibilities to students; it is betraying a public trust."
--Senator J. William Fulbright
And, from Senator Fulbright's book, The Pentagon Propaganda Machine (1971), page 11, some observations on the transformation of a nation into a military nation, where war is an end in itself:
"It seems to me we have grown distressingly used to war. For more than fourteen of the past twenty-eight years we have been fighting somewhere, and we have been ready to fight almost anywhere for the other fourteen. War and the military have become a part of our environment, like pollution. 
"Violence is our most important product. We have been spending nearly $80 billion a year on the military, which is more than the profits of all American business, or, to make another comparison, is almost as much as the total spending of the federal, state, and local governments for health, education, old age and retirement benefits, housing, and agriculture. Until the past session of the Congress, these billions have been provided to the military with virtually no questions asked. 
"The military has been operating for years in that Elysium of the public relations man, a seller's market. Take the climate into which the Sentinel ABM program was introduced. Many people looked on it, as they now look on Safeguard, not as a weapon but as a means of prosperity. For the industrialist it meant profits; for the worker new jobs and the prospect of higher wages; for the politician a new installation or defense order with which to ingratiate himself with his constituents. Military expenditures today provide the livelihood of some ten percent of our work force. There are 22,000 major corporate defense contractors and another 100,000 subcontractors. Defense plants or installations are located in 363 of the country's 435 congressional districts. Even before it turns its attention to the public-at-large, the military has a large and sympathetic audience for its message
"These millions of Americans who have a vested interest in the expensive weapons systems spawned by our global military involvements are as much a part of the military-industrial complex as the generals and the corporation heads. In turn they have become a powerful force for the perpetuation of those involvements, and have had an indirect influence on a weapons development policy that has driven the United States into a spiraling arms race with the Soviet Union and made us the world's major salesman of armaments. 
"A Marine war hero and former Commandant of the Corps, General David M. Shoup, has said, 'America has become a militaristic and aggressive nation.' He could be right. Militarism has been creeping up on us during the past thirty years. Prior to World War II, we never maintained more than a token peacetime army. Even in 1940, with Nazi Germany sweeping over Europe, there were fewer than half a million men in all of the armed services. The Army, which then included the Air Corps, had one general and four lieutenant generals. In October I941, six weeks before Pearl Harbor, the extension of the draft law was passed by but a single vote. Many of those who voted no did so for partisan political reasons, but antimilitarism certainly was a consideration for some. Today we have more than 3.5 million men in uniform and nearly 28 million veterans of the armed forces in the civilian population. The Air Force alone has twelve four-star generals and forty-two lieutenant generals. The American public has become so conditioned by crises, by warnings, by words that there are few, other than the young, who protest against what is happening. 
"The situation is such that last year Senator Allen J. Ellender of Louisiana, hardly an apostle of the New Left, felt constrained to say: 
" 'For almost twenty years now, many of us in the Congress have more or less blindly followed our military spokesmen. Some have become captives of the military. We are on the verge of turning into a military nation.' 
"This militarism that has crept up on us is bringing about profound changes in the character of our society and government-changes that are slowly undermining democratic procedure and values."
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