“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.”President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961
General Milley’s recent comment suggesting that it was improper for the President of the United States to have him accompany him on a visit to St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C. is just one of a number of criticisms of the President leveled by senior military officers, although Milley does stand out as having made his comments while still on active duty. The so-called mainstream press, most of which up until virtually yesterday detested anything associated with the military, is now championing this “revolt of the generals.” Predictably enough, the implication in this analysis is that these senior officers are so offended by the “authoritarian” tendencies of the President that they have felt compelled to speak up in defense of democracy and liberty.
Just as predictably, that analysis is completely wrong.
No, the generals are not speaking up against the man who presided over record black unemployment and criminal justice reform, and enjoys historic approval ratings in the black community, because he is a racist.
No, the generals are not attacking a man who was targeted in the first attempted coup in American history, because they are now concerned for the integrity of our electoral system or the rule of law.
No, the generals are not now concerned about “corruption” after ignoring Joe Biden’s strong-arm tactics on behalf of his corrupt son in Ukraine and China, Hillary Clinton’s approval of the sale of a big chunk of our uranium stockpile to Russia and the blatant lies told to Congress to cover up the scandal surrounding the sacking of our consulate in Benghazi.
This has nothing to do with principle, conscience, or the rule of law. It has to do with one thing. Money. Lots of it.
The American military-industrial complex is vast beyond measure. Our defense budget for this fiscal year is $738 billion. That’s more than the combined defense budgets of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, the U.K., and Japan.
That’s just the beginning. American defense contractors don’t just sell to the U.S. military. They sell to the world. In 2018 the world’s top 100 weapons companies sold $420 billion in arms and military services. The top five companies in terms of sales were all American. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and General Dynamics made $148 billion in sales, equivalent to 35% of the total. If you add in the other U.S. companies in the top 100, American firms accounted for 59% of total sales worldwide.
All of this money is dependent on the United States of America, a nation that largely avoided foreign entanglements before the Second World War, maintaining the interventionist foreign policy it has followed in recent decades. To quote Donald J. Trump – it is dependent on “endless war.”
“Each of you begins your career in the Army at a crucial moment in American history. We are restoring the fundamental principle that the job of the American soldier is not to rebuild foreign nations but defend — and defend strongly –our nation from foreign enemies. We are ending the era of endless wars. In its place is a renewed, clear-eyed focus on defending America’s vital interests. It is not the duty of U.S. troops to solve ancient conflicts in faraway lands that many people have never even heard of. We are not the policemen of the world.”President Trump speaking at West Point in June 2020
President Trump is not an isolationist. Take a look at his deployment of forces to Poland and his weapons sales to Ukrain – a nation largely ignored by President Obama – and you will see exactly how forceful he is prepared to be when necessary.
President Trump is a realist, and he is laser-focused on ensuring that when, and if, the United States commits itself militarily we know exactly why and what our goals are. He does not believe in mission creep. He does not believe in nation-building. He does not believe in open-ended commitments.
All of that means a whole lot less money for the giant defense contractors that exercise so much influence in D.C. today. All of that means a lot less cash for the senior leaders who walk out the door at the Pentagon one day and take jobs at the world’s largest defense contractors the next.
Let’s take a look at just a few of the President’s new critics.
James Mattis, retired Marine general.
Mattis sits on the board of directors of General Dynamics. General Dynamics is the fifth-largest defense contractor in the United States. It manufactures the M1 Abrams tank in use with seven foreign militaries. It makes all U.S. submarines currently in service. It is developing the new class of ballistic missile submarines. The company made $19 billion in the first six months of 2019 alone.
John Kelly, retired Marine general.
After leaving the Marine Corps Kelly was on the board of DC Capital Partners – an investment firm. DC Capital Partners’ website shows investments in companies like SC3, proving “high-end mission support” to the federal government in “defense” and “intelligence” and IDS a “provider of integrated security solutions to the U.S. Government in support missions worldwide.” Kelly then became Secretary of Homeland Security. After once again leaving federal service, Kelly joined the board of Caliburn International, which operates detention facilities for Homeland Security. Caliburn is owned by DC Capital Partners.
Mike Mullen, retired Navy admiral.
Mullen sits on the board of directors of Sprint/Nextel, General Motors, Afiniti and is President of MGM Consulting, a company that provides counsel to global clients on national security and geo-political matters. General Motors, which already provides significant services to the U.S. military is in the midst of an effort to rebuild and expand its defense business. GM made over $32 billion in the first quarter of 2020 alone.
James Stavridis, retired Navy admiral.
Stavridis is an operating executive with Carlyle Group and the chair of the board of counselors at McLarty Associates. The Carlyle Group is a global investment firm with over $200 billion in assets. It has made vast sums of money buying, investing in, and selling defense contractors including United Defense. McLarty Associates, formed by former Clinton administration officials, provides what it calls “private diplomacy” services to international clients.
Richard Myers, retired Air Force general.
In 2006, Myers joined the board of directors of Northrop Grumman Corporation, one of the world’s biggest defense contractors. He is also now a director on the board of United Technologies Corporation (UTC). UTC merged with Raytheon earlier this year. The new firm is now projected to be the second-largest defense contractor in the nation with annual revenue of $74 billion. Amongst many other things, it makes all the engines for the new, fabulously expensive F-35 fighter.
The general officers speaking up against the President like to wrap themselves in the flag and speak as if they are talking on behalf of all the men and women who have served the nation. Strange then that none of those average men and women came home to seats on the boards of huge corporations, six-figure salaries, and lavish lifestyles. Most of them just went back to the small towns, farms and big-city apartments they left when they went on active duty.
None of them expected anything else. They didn’t do it for the money. They did it to protect the nation they loved.
The men speaking up against this President now may talk all they want about their concern for the Constitution and the Republic. The men and women who served under them know differently. They know this is the same old story.
Same as it ever was. Want to know why they really oppose Trump? Follow the money.