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Wikipedia tells us that the concept of a "permanent war economy" originated in 1944. Such a war economy, it was predicted, would be one in which there would be a post-WWII arms race. It was argued at the time that:

the USA would retain the character of a war economy; even in peacetime, American military expenditures would remain large, reducing the percentage of unemployed compared to the 1930s.

The concept was also used by U.S. businessman and Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson to refer to an institutionalized war economy, a semi-command-type economy which is directed by corporation executives, based on military industry, and funded by state social spending...whereby the collusion between militarism and war profiteering are manifest as a permanently subsidized industry.

Wilson warned at the close of the war that the U.S. must not return to a civilian economy, but must keep to a "permanent war economy." Wilson was made Secretary of Defense under Dwight D. Eisenhower, and was largely instrumental in reforming the Pentagon as an instrument for facilitating a closer relationship between the military and industry.

The military, originally conceived as a small order fed by state militia, has now become an empire, the largest and most expensive feature of our government.

President Eisenhower, in a speech on 16 April 1953 said, "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children... This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

Back in 1956, C. Wright Mills a sociologist, wrote an influential book which brought attention to the interwoven interests of the leaders of the military, corporate, and political elements of society and suggested that the ordinary citizen was a relatively powerless subject of manipulation by those entities. The book title is The Power Elite.

The following is quoted from a review of Power Elite. The review was written by Jeffrey Leach for

According to Mills, these three institutions (military, corporate, political) now form a contiguous whole as far as managing the country goes. Moreover, people inhabiting any of these three structures often move between them with seeming ease. Isn't it funny that Colin Powell, a lifelong military officer, suddenly finds himself in the political world as Secretary of State? Or how Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld move between the corporate and political worlds with such simplicity?

Mills includes a couple of chapters about the role of society. In this section of the book, the author concerns himself with the concept of "masses" versus "publics". A mass is essentially a population that receives opinions from elites through controlled communication systems instead of expressing their own ideas... A public, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of a mass. Opinions are not received through media systems, but arise from open debate through open communications systems...

I think anyone with an iota of common sense knows where we stand today in terms of Mills's definitions. The United States, that great, immutable bulwark of freedom, is instead a mass of some 260 million souls effectively controlled through the corporate media systems.

Sure, one can argue that the people vote officials out of political office, but has that really changed anything? And sure, the Internet does allow nearly anyone with access to a computer a forum for virtually any topic, but it will take more than a few e-mails tacked on to the end of every news opinion program on the media outlets to convince me that we do not essentially receive our opinions... Every time you hear the word "democracy" fall out of an elite's mouth, just remember that democracy means "mob rule," in this case, the American mob ruled by the power elites.

Stephen Lendman writing on ZNet observes that the corporate media is in crisis, and that our free and open society is at risk. I would agree but argue that this phenomenon is nothing new but that it's only now becoming widely recognized, largely because of the information available to the "masses" by way of the Internet.

Fiction substitutes for fact, news is carefully filtered, dissent is marginalized, and supporting the powerful substitutes for full and accurate reporting. As a result, wars of aggression are called liberating ones, civil liberties are suppressed for our own good, and patriotism means going along with governments that are lawless.

The Power Elite Today

Journalist Joseph Kraft, a former member of both the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission, said the CFR "comes close to being an organ of what C. Wright Mills has called the Power Elite – a group of men, similar in interest and outlook, shaping events from invulnerable positions behind the scenes." Kraft worked at the Washington Post and the New York Times during the 1950s and became a speech writer for JFK. For this he was placed on Nixon's master list of political enemies.

This from Wikipedia:

A study by two critics of the organization, Laurence Shoup and William Minter, found that of 502 government officials surveyed from 1945 to 1972, more than half were members of the Council. Today it has about 4,300 members, which over its history have included senior serving politicians, more than a dozen Secretaries of State, former national security officers, bankers, lawyers, professors, former CIA members and senior media figures.

As for the Trilateral Commission:

The Trilateral Commission is a private organization, established to foster closer cooperation between America, Europe and Japan. It was founded in July 1973, at the initiative of David Rockefeller; who was Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations at that time and the Commission is widely seen as a counterpart to the Council on Foreign Relations. Other founding members included Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker, both eventually heads of the Federal Reserve system.

Other Influential Organizations

American Enterprise Institute:

The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) is a conservative think tank, founded in 1943. It is associated with neoconservative domestic and foreign policy views. According to the institute its mission is "to defend the principles and improve the institutions of American freedom and democratic capitalism — limited government, private enterprise, individual liberty and responsibility, vigilant and effective defense and foreign policies, political accountability, and open debate." AEI is an independent, non-profit organization. It is supported primarily by grants and contributions from foundations, corporations, and individuals. It is located in Washington, D.C.

AEI has emerged as one of the leading architects of the second Bush administration's public policy. More than twenty AEI alumni and current visiting scholars and fellows have served either in a Bush administration policy post or on one of the government's many panels and commissions. Former United States Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is a visiting scholar, and Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a senior fellow.

The US Chamber of Commerce:

The Chamber is staffed with policy specialists, lobbyists and lawyers. It is known for spending more money than any other lobbying organization on a yearly basis.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been criticized by some as being a Republican front group, promoting Republican candidates and becoming a driving force to support the right-wing policies of the administration of George W. Bush. In an article posted at the liberal political blog MyDD, Matt Stoller wrote that the Chamber "used to be a trade association that advocated in a bipartisan manner for narrowly tailored policies to benefit its members. Since 1997 or so, it has become a fully functional part of the partisan Republican machine," with CEO and president Thomas J. Donohue "raising its budget to $150M a year from corporate chiefs satisfied with his ability to move policy through a Republican Congress."

The Chamber claims on its website that its mission is to "advance human progress through an economic, political and social system based on individual freedom, incentive, initiative, opportunity, and responsibility." It describes itself as "the world's largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region."

However, the Chamber is "dominated by oil companies, pharmaceutical giants, automakers and other polluting industries," according to James Carter, executive director of the Green Chamber of Commerce.

There are numerous others. For the sake of brevity and bandwidth I'll list a few of them here with links. If your time permits I would encourage readers to check the links and look at the membership in these organizations. Check who supports them with funding. You will find overlapping membership. Check the board of directors of any international oil company and you will see their links to AEI, CFR and others.

Hoover Institute,  Heritage Foundation,  Hudson Institute,   AIPAC,  Manhattan Institute,  Team B

In his book Mills documents how WWII solidified the trinity of power in the US made up of military, corporate and government elites and how working in unison through "higher circles" that these power elite are those who decide whatever is decided of major consequence. Those higher circles include the influential organizations listed above. There is no conspiracy at work here. This is all done openly and legally but the message is also controlled by the corporate media and so we don't see or hear much about what goes on in the "higher circles".

If you've ever wondered why there are times when some of our elected representatives don't stand up and show some backbone and represent our interests, the interests of the people who elected them to office, perhaps this will help you to understand why, or at least to help in the process of connecting a few dots.

Originally posted to truong son traveler on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 01:55 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar (40+ / 0-)

    Hope to have illuminated a problem here. I don't have an easy solution but we sure as hell are not going to surrender. The fight will go on. Your thoughts welcomed.

    Patriotism lies not in blind obedience to authority, but in the desire to search for the truth. - Ramman Kenoun

    by truong son traveler on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 02:00:23 AM PST

  •  Eisenhower was more of a populist (5+ / 0-)

    than most of today's "Democrats".

    we're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression

    by Lepanto on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 02:38:56 AM PST

  •  in 1987 the deficit got so bad, there was a (5+ / 0-)

    budget summit, and Congress agreed to cut half from social spending while Reagan was going to get the other half cutting Defense.

    When the Congressional leaders got back to the conference with their half of the bargain, they found not only had Reagan NOT cut any, he increased the military budget.

    Cap Weinburger had to do the explaining, "spending on the military doesn't increase the deficit", because money goes into the economy and trickles down, then it has a multiplier effect, and the Treasury gets back more than it spends on the military.

    Folks still believe that bullshit.

  •  What was the DODs budget as a percent (3+ / 0-)

    of GNP in 1960.  What is it today?

  •  I had a one word reaction to this diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler, jimstaro

    entry.  "motherfucker" (in a eye opening good way)

    Bah! Clintobaward will devour all other candidates!

    by o really on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 03:34:53 AM PST

  •  "Justify My War" (5+ / 0-)

    ...a documentary film [to release in 2008] about our culture’s relationship to war. It re-examines how we rationalize it, our justifications for fighting it, what happens when our beliefs are shattered by the reality of it, and what we can learn from it.


    ~A govt lobbied, campaigned and selected by corporation... is good for corporation. Bad for people.~ -8.88 -8.36

    by Orj ozeppi on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 04:40:17 AM PST

  •  C. Wright Mills (7+ / 0-)

    — a broad-shouldered, motorcycle-riding anarchist from Texas who taught sociology at Columbia.

    Opening sentence:

    "The powers of ordinary men are circumscribed by the everyday worlds in which they live, yet even in these rounds of job, family and neighborhood they often seem driven by forces they can neither understand nor govern."

    His book remains a founding text in the continuing demand for democratically responsible political leadership.  ...The separation of powers in the Constitution, the story went, repelled the natural tendency of power to concentrate.

    Most Americans still believed the ebb and flow of public opinion guided political affairs.

    "But now we must recognize this description as a set of images out of a fairy tale," Mills wrote. "They are not adequate even as an approximate model of how the American system of power works."

    The trend in foreign affairs, Mills argued, was for a militarized executive branch to bypass the United Nations, while Congress was left with little more than the power to express "general confidence, or the lack of it." ...

    "For the first time in American history, men in authority are talking about an ‘emergency’ without a foreseeable end," Mills wrote in a sentence that remains as powerful and unsettling as it was 50 years ago. "Such men as these are crackpot realists: in the name of realism they have constructed a paranoid reality all their own."  NYT article

    ~A govt lobbied, campaigned and selected by corporation... is good for corporation. Bad for people.~ -8.88 -8.36

    by Orj ozeppi on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 06:04:36 AM PST

    •  That last blockquote ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, Orj ozeppi

      "For the first time in American history, men in authority are talking about an ‘emergency’ without a foreseeable end," Mills wrote in a sentence that remains as powerful and unsettling as it was 50 years ago.

      Amazing foresight. I must read his book.

      Patriotism lies not in blind obedience to authority, but in the desire to search for the truth. - Ramman Kenoun

      by truong son traveler on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 06:52:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  "An 'emergency' without a foreseeable end" (5+ / 0-)

      is exactly what Bush put in place in May 2007 with Presidential Directive 51:

      "Executive Directive 51" for short), signed by United States President George W. Bush on May 4, 2007, is a Presidential Directive which specifies the procedures for continuity of the federal government in the event of a "catastrophic emergency." Such an emergency is construed as "any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions."

      The directive specifies that, following such an emergency, an "Enduring Constitutional Government," comprising "a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government," coordinated by the President of the United States, will take the place of the nation's regular government, presumably without the oversight of Congress.[3] .... The directive specifies that the president has the power to declare a catastrophic emergency and does not specify who has the power to declare said emergency over.

      Thanks so much for an excellent comment, Orj, and another fine diary, TST. Wish there were more of this here!

      "This chamber reeks of blood." -- Sen George McGovern, 1970

      by cotterperson on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 07:30:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  House Hearing on the Cost of Operations in Iraq (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler

    ITS NOT THE TERRORIST THAT WANT HER its the BUSH CLINTON REGIME AND THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX THAT WANTS HER. The true terrorist are Bush and Clinton who have laid a scam on the american public, where now we are so deeply in debt that we will be paying forever to her chinese friends interest on our debt for the military cost that have put us there.

    ***House Hearing on the Cost of Operations in Iraq***

    Artist / Source C-SPAN
    File Name



    House Hearing on the Cost of Operations in Iraq
    Budget Committee Chairman Rep. John Spratt (D-SC) held a hearing on the cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Witnesses include: Amy Belasco, Congressional Research Service, Defense Budget Specialist; Peter Orszag, Congressional Budget Office; and others.
    10/24/2007: WASHINGTON, DC: 2 hr. 52 min.


    Hillary Clinton Piles on Pentagon Earmarks

    Weapons Industry Dumps Republicans, Backs Hillary

    The U.S. arms industry has all but abandoned its traditional allies in the Republican party and is putting their money on Hillary Clinton.
    .............................. ................

    •  It's clear that Hillary Clinton is the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      establishment's candidate of choice.

      The US arms industry is backing Hillary Clinton for President and has all but abandoned its traditional allies in the Republican party. Mrs Clinton has also emerged as Wall Street's favourite. Investment bankers have opened their wallets in unprecedented numbers for the New York senator over the past three months and, in the process, dumped their earlier favourite, Barack Obama.

      Mrs Clinton's wooing of the defence industry is all the more remarkable given the frosty relations between Bill Clinton and the military during his presidency. An analysis of campaign contributions shows senior defence industry employees are pouring money into her war chest in the belief that their generosity will be repaid many times over with future defence contracts.


      Patriotism lies not in blind obedience to authority, but in the desire to search for the truth. - Ramman Kenoun

      by truong son traveler on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 07:29:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bush and MSM today: (3+ / 0-)

    Chiding U.S. allies who have withheld civil liberties, Bush said governments will never build trust by harassing or imprisoning candidates and protesters. But his rebuke was general, and he did not single out any U.S. partner in the region for oppressive practices.

    "You cannot expect people to believe in the promise of a better future when they are jailed for peacefully petitioning their government," Bush said. "And you cannot stand up a modern, confident nation when you do not allow people to voice their legitimate criticisms."

    Bush's speech, reprising the call for democracy in the Middle East that he made in his second inaugural address, was delivered in one of the few countries in the region — the Emirates — where democracy has not been a vital issue.

    ...the U.S. Department of State notes in its annual report on human rights practices that numerous fundamental practices and policies exist to the contrary. Specifically, the UAE does not have democratically elected institutions (citizens do not have the right to change their government) or political parties; free assembly and association are restricted; and the rights of workers are limited. The use of very young foreign boys as camel jockeys continues despite government pledges to end these practices.
    Migrants, particularly migrant workers, make up a majority (approximately 80%) of the resident population of the UAE, and account for 90% of its workforce.[1] They lack rights associated with citizenship and face a variety of restrictions on their rights as workers.
    It is common practice for employers in the UAE to retain employees' passports for the duration of the employment contract to prevent expatriate employees from changing jobs. This is an illegal practice, but it is almost never investigated, let alone punished by the government. On termination of an employment contract, certain categories of expatriates are banned from obtaining a work permit in the country for six months.
    ...indentured servants... Trafficking and prostitution... Child abuse and slavery... An action filed in the United States in September 2006 accuses Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Dubai's ruler, of abducting, trafficking and enslaving thousands of young children for camel races. The children were said to be from Bangladesh, Sudan and southern Asia.
    Homosexuality... considered illegal and are punishable with the death penalty.

    Another Proud Subscriber to the Mariachi Mama Candidate Bickering Moratorium!

    by borkitekt on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 07:51:52 AM PST

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