In a January 17th, 1961 television broadcast, President Dwight Eisenhower gave his famous farewell address in which he stated; “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”. The United States has chosen not to adhere to the warning of the Supreme Commander of allied forces in the European theater during World War II. Instead, we live in a world where wars are waged not for national security interests but rather for the financial interests of a select few.
Today, many of our leaders in the “district of criminals” (DC) are fond of taking full advantage of what is commonly referred to as the “revolving door practice”, in which prominent elected officials serve as intermediaries between the government and private sector before reaping tremendous personal capital gains. Unfortunately the cruel reality is; the people who start wars are the same people who serve on the board of directors of powerful companies within the defense industry. Taking up ownership shares in businesses and implementing policy that positively impacts their personal investments has become perfectly acceptable for politicians in today’s day and age.
In 1987, Stephen L Norris, David Rubenstein and their associates began to meet at the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan to discuss the formation of a global private equity firm. When discussing the reasoning behind founding their organization in Washington DC, Carlyle Group’s co-founder Stephen L Norris states: “We saw simply an opportunity to take full advantage of Washington and the people here and the access people had to transaction”. Since headquartering the private equity powerhouse in Washington DC and aligning themselves with influential political figures, Carlyle Group has grown in epic proportions. The firm’s true potential was not realized until after joining forces with the Pentagon. In 1981 Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Defense, Frank Carlucci joined the ranks of Carlyle Group and helped facilitate rapid expansion by establishing defense contracts.
The Carlyle Group has since grown exponentially acquiring ownership of many household names including; defense manufacturer United Defense and Booz Allen Hamilton a firm that has recently been in the media spotlight following the infamous Snowden revelations. A classic case of capitalizing from the standard practice of utilizing DC’s “revolving door” is that of Booz Allen’s Mike McConnell. In 1996 McConnell left his position as Director of the NSA to become Senior VP of Booz Allen Hamilton, a company responsible for the work outsourced by intelligence agencies. After establishing himself in the private sector, the one time Navy Admiral took up the very prominent position as Director of National Intelligence and headed the entire federation of 16 government intelligence agencies. Of course, the cycle wouldn’t be complete if McConnell didn’t return to the private sector to garner tremendous personal profits, which he would go on to do in 2009. The fact that Carlyle group dominates both the defense industry and agencies that manufacture the intelligence which serves as justification for foreign invasions is a testament to how powerful the firm truly is.
How has this phenomenon come to fruition? On August 3rd 1992, Kellog Brown and Root a former subsidiary of Halliburton received a 9 million dollar contract to study the idea that the Pentagon should start using the private sector to support functions of the military. Then Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney was very instrumental in the process of intertwining government with private contractors as he would go on to serve as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Halliburton. In the process of doing so Dick Cheney would increase his net worth from less then a million dollars to upwards of 80+ Million. Now that is a return on investment! However… the question that must be asked, at what cost?
The geopolitical stage has forever been altered since the foreign policy written by think tank Project for a New American Century has become a reality. In recent years the United States has been engulfed in wars in which the number of private defense contractors outnumber the men and women from the US military. One of world’s oldest professions, perhaps not quite as old as prostitution, is fighting as a mercenary. An apparent irrelevant law however worth noting, is the UN considers all mercenaries illegal under the 1989 UN mercenary convention. The United States however currently allocates work typically done by the armed forces to private contractors and the corporations behind them. During a NBC Meet the Press interview war profiteer Dick Cheney states clearly “As Vice President I had absolutely no influence of, involvement of, knowledge of, in anyway shape of form, contracts”… Always believe your government officials!
The military industrial complex has evolved into a force that is driven by profit. Commonly referred to as the “Iron Triangle”, the merging of government agencies and special interest groups is undeniable. The truth of the matter is; corrupt war profiteers in power, who call for war; do not see the horror of the battlefield, they do not send their children to shed blood. It is the common American patriot who bravely answers his or her call to duty and too often returns home in a coffin draped in red white and blue. Given the circumstances we find ourselves in, it is safe to say former President Dwight D Eisenhower is rolling over in his grave.