Water Week

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Echoes of Eisenhower in new ‘security-industrial complex’: weak Western leaders fuelling paranoia

Posted by waterweek on 5 October 2007

Commentators have ascribed the chaotically belligerent aftermath of 11 Sep­tember to weak Western leaders crav­ing popularity in the glamour of war, wrote Simon Jenkins in The Sydney Morning Herald (20/9/2007, p.13).

Playing with fire: “I think more sinister forces are at work. America’s last true soldier-president, Eisenhower, warned of a ‘military-industrial complex’ in danger of running amok. Its wealth could bend democracy to its will, using paranoia to seize control of budgets and policies alike. The outcome would be ‘a tragic waste of resources … humanity hang­ing on a cross of iron’, with armies seek­ing war for their employment. Elected leaders, Eisenhower said, fed such a complex at their peril.

Insecurity-complex: “The growth of Islamist terrorism, always described as ‘al-Qaeda-linked’ (as international crime was always ‘mafia-linked’), meets Eisenhower’s thesis. With the threat of communism gone, the military-industrial complex needs a new cause. Allied to a booming police and intelligence bureaucracy, it has grasped eagerly at terrorism. It has no interest in keeping that threat in pro­portion, and every interest in exaggerat­ing it. To cover the bungles that led to 11 September, this security-industrial complex portrayed the terrorists as awesome and ubiquitous, capable of building vast bombproof bunkers in the Hindu Kush, fake plans of which were dumped on a gullible press. Seen in the light of history, I do not find Grayling’s alarmism out of order. It is simply true that in Britain and the US arms dealers, in league with security bureaucrats, have fuelled public debate with extreme paranoia.

Not appeasers: “Those who de­fend liberty are accused of appeasing an unseen enemy. Those who plead demo­cracy are accused of threatening the state. If the freedom show is to get back on the road, some battles must clearly be fought over and again,” Jenkins added.

Reference: This is an edited extract of a column that first appeared in The Guardian.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 20/9/2007, p. 13

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